Super Bowl may have different connotations for many. It is a matter of pride for the zealous teams, a fair reason for excitement and shouting out loud to get refreshed for the fanatics, an occasion for friends to get together, and climaxing sales for the ‘well-behaved’ pizza stores that wait for the day of the game like kids waiting for Santa in front of the chimney. Yet, for marketing and advertising people, it is a visual feast that results from the sweet rivalry among completely different players: brands and ad agencies. To bring the cup back home this year, different brands seem to have employed different strategies and tactics. As one of those too impatient to wait for Sunday night to see the commercials, I watched the participants on YouTube and briefly analysed the three that I found most creative below.

As the gold medallist in my heart, Budweiser seems to have maintained it 2014 strategy of bringing forth the emotional benefits by implying that its product is consumers’ lifetime bud. To realize this point, the brand has wisely leveraged the popularity of its “Puppy Love” commercial by having its agency Anomaly develop a sequel which highlights the no-matter-what friendship between the brand’s adorable Golden-Retriever puppy and Clydesdale horses. Apparently, the brand follows a safe path by keeping loyal to what actually did achieve the desired emotional effect and brand awareness level intended last year.

As the long-lost participant and the silver medallist, McDonald’s does just the opposite: The brand adopts a strategy that is based on change. To specify, the chain works with Leo Burnett Chicago, changes it’s ‘I’m loving it’ slogan to ‘Choose Loving’, probably as an attempt to make consumers opt for it (the ‘loving’ brand) over competitors to resolve its recent drop in sales. Perfectly illustrating the choice for love and peace in its slogan, McDonald’s pacifies and reconciles die-hard enemies such as Batman and Joker, Mario and Dragon, Smurfs and Gargamel, and many more through McDonald’s products in cartoon format. Inferably, the brand positions itself as a mediator of love and peace, implying that it is perceived similarly attractive even by opposite consumer profiles and offers the same value to anyone regardless of extreme differences between consumer profiles. Thereby, McDonald’s utilizes Super Bowl to announce that it still maintains its standardized service which is claimed by some parties to have been compromised long ago.

As for the copper medallist, Toyota finally shows up with its agency Saatchi LA, adopting a completely different strategy: resorting to customer engagement and user-generated content via leveraging on digital. Through the social media competition, the brand has had interested parties post ‘bold fathers’ themed videos on its Facebook page and the video receiving the most likes has been chosen to be aired on Super Bowl. The choice of an emotional theme such as fatherhood implies that the brand probably intends at increasing brand awareness; whereas, the choice of digital as the main tactic suggests that Toyota does want to increase the level of interaction between the brand and people interested in it. All in all, the winning video does touch hearts, exhibiting a father-daughter relationship that is ‘bold’ (courageous and hearty) enough to make one burst into tears upon witnessing the true story of a Paralympic athlete. Although the commercial highly resembles the one developed by the agency BDDO-New York for Guinness Beer’s Super Bowl spot in 2013 and, thus, falls short of uniqueness, it seems to be strategically successful in the sense that it has provided Toyota with the brand-consumer interaction sought.

Considering the above explications, one can suggest the moral of the story as follows: The Super Bowl commercials seems to have reached such a point that one can not help checking out the commercials once brands announce their participation and release teasers. The most fascinating issue is that brands and agencies are aware of the enthusiasm awaiting their commercials, and they use this as an opportunity to engage their targets, who, this time, are the impatient marketers and advertisers themselves. Although each brand adopts a different strategy that suits its unique need and works with the agency that it trusts to satisfy the need in question, at the end of the day, Super Bowl becomes a platform for brands to justify their most human parts by focusing on brand awareness and emotional benefits at some point to eliminate their abstractness for at least 60 seconds.  

Notice: Please notice that the names of ad agencies mentioned above have been learnt and derived from a brief reading of  the article found in the following link: