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Superbowl 2017 Ad Critique



The odds were 3 to 1 that Britain would remain in the EU before the Brexit vote:

Odds makers showed 75% to stay, 25% to leave.

The world was stunned with the outcome.

But if the 3:1 odds for Brexit were stunning, consider the odds in August of 2015 that Donald Trump would become President of the United States – 25:1.

I confess, I considered his candidacy a virtual impossibility when he first announced.

The outcome of the 2016 Presidential election was literally jaw dropping for the vast majority of Americans – even for those who favored Trump over Hillary.


Courtesy abcnews.go.com


But neither of these upsets come close to Sunday’s upset. If you were traveling off planet Sunday and didn’t catch the Super Bowl, you missed one of the greatest sports comebacks of all time.

With the score 28 to 3 in Atlanta’s favor in the third quarter, according to one source, the Vegas odds on New England winning the game were 1300-1!

Or, as you can see on this graph on ESPN’s Facebook page, Atlanta had a 99.6% chance of winning the game in the third quarter. (The red line is New England’s chance of winning, which is essentially non-existent in the 3rd quarter).



As exciting as the game was on Sunday, the other “game” – the television commercials – never really got off the ground.

Not that there weren’t some good commercials, but what has happened to the creativity that brought us the iconic Apple commercial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axSnW-ygU5g, or Wendy’s wonderful, “Where’s the Beef?” commercial (I love this one) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0, or as readers of this annual article know, my favorite of all time, the great Eminem, Chrysler commercial.?


I confess to not having watched all 51 Super Bowl commercials, but I watched several and eyeballed my way through several top 10 lists (various magazines and high-profile websites offer their opinion of the 10 ten best – and in some cases, the worst).

I also confess to not understanding how businesses can spend $5 -$10 million dollars to promote their product or service and so desperately misfire. (The price for Super Bowl ads this year were $5 million for a 30 second spot. That’s $166,666 per second. But that is just for the air time.)

“And then there’s the cost of producing the Super Bowl commercial itself, which often requires celebrity appearances, special effects and pop-song soundtracks. Overall costs these days can easily top $10 million.”


 If the commercial was 60 seconds, air time was $10 million + production.

The purpose of marketing is to create want, some desire, for your product. You want to put someone in the frame of mind of I should get one of those or I’m going to check them out or When I look for a new car in the Fall, I’m going to test drive that Audi. You want some kind of reach for what it is you are selling.

But while there were exceptions, which we’ll cover below, many of the Super Bowl commercials…simply weren’t.

Since I mention it above, let’s take Audi as an example. The commercial, which you can see at the following link, is a father’s musings about what he should tell his daughter about unequal pay for women while the video footage shows the young girl winning a go cart race.


It’s essentially a political statement about gender equality. There’s nothing “wrong” with a corporation taking a position on a social issue. But that is political PR and they would do a much better job of getting their message out writing an op ed for the Wall Street Journal or have their PR people arrange some interviews on Bloomberg, or Charlie Rose or…

Why spend $11 million dollars on a “commercial” to market their auto brand, and not sell their cars? (It was a 60 second commercial – $10 million plus – production costs.)

Adding insult to injury their position or how they presented it was not surveyed – always dangerous.

“The 60-second Audi ad, which aired during last night’s Super Bowl, meant to demonstrate to viewers that the German automaker is committed to gender equality in the workplace.

 Instead, the ad’s downbeat message turned off more people than it inspired… And it highlighted the perils that come with an attempt to hitch a corporate identity to a controversial social issue. The You Tube video of the ad has logged more dislikes (59,000) than likes (47,000). ‘Some of that [negative reaction] comes from a perception of a manufacturer and seller of products trying to grab an issue and align with it for their own gain,” says Julie Hennessy, a marketing professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.’”


 The Super Bowl carried other “commercials” pushing social issues, trying, perhaps, to mimic the Golden Globes or other celebrities who are falling all over themselves these days playing Hollywood’s most recent game of cool – Dis The Donald.

I suppose if a corporation wants to spend $166,666 a second to move their brand into the political arena, it’s their call. But it is not marketing.

And even the actual marketing fell short. One of the most heralded commercials appearing on several top 10 lists was the Skittles commercial. https://youtu.be/f8X8Ygy5VjI

Sorry, I don’t get it.

Why didn’t they show the girl becoming so enamored with the Skittles after a few throws, that she sneaks out the window, slides down the drain pipe and the two of them walk into the moonlight sharing their Skittles.

Okay, it’s not Scorsese, but at least it would justify the title of the commercial, which the Skittles people labeled, Romance.

 But as an often challenged “conspiracy theorist”, this one made me laugh. https://youtu.be/poTk4Pymu5c

 The battle for top spot seemed to be between two firms: Square Space and Wix. Before I tell what these companies do, watch the two commercials and tell me which of the two you think is the better one in terms of getting the message across.



Me? I love John Malkovich. But more than that, it was only a short time into the commercial before I knew what was being sold. I mean “What the ___?


 I’m also a big fan of Jason Statham and the Israeli actress is striking; but 90% of the commercial is the fight. And while I’m an old Kung Fu drop out and enjoy seeing Statham in action, my question, like the old lady in the Wendy’s commercial is, “Where’s the Beef?”


So, my pick for the top Super Bowl commercial of 2017 is SquareSpace.

Hope you enjoyed.

And of course, if I can help you with your market research, surveys or marketing of any kind, give me a call.