Super Bowl 2017: What Did We Learn?

Maybe you sat on the edge of your seat and watched every second of the game. Maybe you watched SNL episodes on your computer and later Googled the best Super Bowl ads (not naming names). Whichever way you watched, there were lessons to be learned, and no we’re not talking about the ones on the field. That’s for a whole other blog post!

No, today we’re not talking football, we’re talking about the ads. Clinching one of the coveted Super Bowl ad spots is, well, the Super Bowl of marketing. So what lessons can we learn from the tone, messages and style of the most popular Super Bowl ads from 2017?

84 Lumber “The Entire Journey”

In this six minute long commercial spot for 84 Lumber, we see a mother and daughter making a long and arduous journey together. At the end of their journey we see them, filthy and exhausted, confronted by a giant and intimidating wall. We see other scenes of people at a construction site, though it is not clear what they are building. The mother and child are devastated by the sight of the wall, as it means the end to their journey. But then they notice it, a door in the wall. A beautiful well-built giant wooden door, that presses open when they push it.

84 Lumber wasn’t subtle with their message, in fact it was spread across the screen at the end of the commercial: “The will to succeed is always welcome here.” 84 Lumber took a very literal approach to their message. With the inclusion of Mexican immigrants and a giant wall, there was no room to misinterpret their message; they clearly took a stand on the immigration issues facing our country. We think their straightforward and to-the-point message was bold and strong.

Coca Cola “It’s Beautiful”

Coke’s Super Bowl Commercial was short, simple and completely powerful. We see a white cowboy on a horse, somewhere out west and “America the Beautiful” begins to play. Then the music subtly changes as the lyrics are sung in several different languages, showing images of all different cultures and ethnicities enjoying the American experience. The commercial ends with the written statement “#AmericaisBeautiful .

We think Coke’s message was incredibly powerful and heartwarming (though we’re sure some took issues with it). You could say it was somewhat controversial, but its message of inclusivity was positive and hopeful.

We also really like how they incorporated a hashtag in the commercial, which encouraged others to get involved and helps spread the message.

Audi “Daughter”

We really loved this one. This commercial shows a dad cheering on his daughter during a soapbox derby. She’s the only girl in the race and the video angles show the grit and determination on her face as she passes by each of the boys. We are privy to the thoughts of the dad, as an audio narrative. He’s wondering what he can tell his daughter, if he will have to explain to her that she is not worth as much as the boys. She nabs first place at the end of the race, and afterwards, she and her dad climb into his shiny black Audi. The dad says “Or maybe I’ll be able to tell her something different.”

Just like the other two commercials mentioned, Audi puts their message on on the screen so we can’t miss it: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Progress is for everyone.”

Like the 84 Lumber commercial, we really like how Audi wasn’t afraid to take a stand on a social issue. We also like that they’re making a concrete promise about their company for all to see. They are taking clear action.

Every year, the best Super Bowl commercials are the ones that elicit some kind of emotional response, usually either laughter or tears. There certainly were no shortage of tears this year.

What’s different about this year was the tone of activism present in so many commercials. So many brands and companies took a stand on the important issues and did it in a bold and obvious way, eschewing subtlety.

The tide is changing on marketing and advertising and it’s no longer good enough to say “We’re better than Product X because . . . “. Now more than ever, people want to support causes with their pocketbooks, and they’re more and more conscious of what their favorite brands are representing.

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