As a marketer by passion, one of my favorite things to do at this time of year is to hunt for the connective thread across Super Bowl ads. It’s not as if advertisers intentionally co-conspire, but, more often than not, patterns of uniform thinking emerge. Last year, we saw a lot of emotional work — celebrating dads, for example. This year, I think the dominant theme is “out of the box” or “out of the ordinary.” It seems like most advertisers are putting out spots that are a little bit edgier, a little more “out there.” For some brands, this approach is a natural fit, like Taco Bell showing elderly people getting tattooed and sporting bling, or Mountain Dew Kickstart’s pug/monkey/baby creation.
For other brands, this slant is a little more unexpected, like the Apartments.com campaign with George Washington palling around with Lil Wayne or Marmot’s, well, marmot “relieving” itself off the side of a mountain. If you haven’t seen it, take a look here.
Marmot is just one of many rookie brands who will take the stage this year. Out of the 41 total advertisers, 14 newcomers are looking to leave their mark, including LG, Pokémon, Colgate, Persil ProClean, Marmot, Amazon, Apartments.com, Shock Top, Bai, Buick, PayPal, SunTrust, SoFi and Quicken Loans. As a fan of Super Bowl marketing, I’m really excited to have some new blood in the running this year.
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the mainstay brands of years past are sitting out this year. Nissan, Ford, VW and Mercedes are hitting the bench. While many speculate about implications, I really don’t believe it’s any indication of Super Bowl ad interest declining. All of these brands had specific reasons to opt out this year. Nissan is leaning heavily into their college sports partnership. Ford, VW and Mercedes simply didn’t have any new news to justify the high price tag.
Will this new wave of far-out humor driven by a new crew of brands win with consumers? We’ll just have to wait until game day to find out. Oh, and go Panthers!
Here’s where my stats came from, in case you’re interested: