Super Bowl 2021: The Ads

As has been my tradition for most of the time this blog has been around, I will comment on this year’s Super Bowl ads. As a reminder, my perspective is that these ads should be a “big deal.” At $5M for 30 seconds, the production value needs to be “super.” I also believe the ad needs to have a message that resonates with the target customers. It can be to affirm loyalty with current customers, to attract new customers, or both. And, of course, we have no idea whether the ad was actually effective because we don’t have the metrics that matter. Our question is often: Does the advertiser?

This year’s Super Bowl, like the year it represents, was unusual in terms of the # of fans allowed to watch in person, as well as the stated intentions of some major brands to “sit out” the game in lieu of donating the money to a “cause.” My question is why are those two activities mutually exclusive? Certainly, these huge companies can do both and many donate to worthy causes all the time, and advertise in the Super Bowl. Was the point to denounce the Super Bowl as a capricious event in this time? If so, why? And I then have to ask when a parent company like Anheuser Busch advertises but Bud does not, why? Again, I am not privy to their inner decision-making process, so I don’t know, but it seems illogical.

Now to the ads themselves. As I have noted many years now, these ads are just not “super.” I had people speculate that the current crop of creative managers just aren’t that creative. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Maybe we have reached a point where fear of offending anyone makes edgy communication worrisome. Regardless, again, this year, the ads were mostly mediocre.

The top ads as rated by the audience were the two Rocket Mortgage, “Certain is Better” ads. I agree they are on point and clever. And Rocket can easily determine if it made their “phones ring.” My other two ads that I felt were on message were the GM ad for electric cars challenging Norway, and the Huggies ad. The ad I felt had the best “non-product” message was the “meet in the middle” ad sponsored by Jeep. Unfortunately, the ad was pulled from You Tube because Bruce Springsteen, who was featured in the ad, was arrested for a DUI. So maybe offending someone is a bigger deal than lack of creativity.


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