Villing & Company

Piling on: Observations about the 2016 Super Bowl commercials

When it comes to advertising, I will admit I am a purist.  Years ago, I was visiting the agency that does Budweiser advertising and I was shocked when the creative director said their number one goal for the brand was to create the top ranked commercial in the Super Bowl.  Strategy be damned.  To hell with the sell.  Anything for a cheap laugh and a big splash around the water cooler Monday morning.

OK, I get it.  There are benefits in creating a buzz.  But to my way of thinking, creativity for the sake of being viewed as cute, clever or comedic is one of the reasons the advertising profession is not respected in the c-suite.  Especially when you really can have it both ways.  True creativity doesn’t get in the way of effective advertising.  It enhances it.

That’s why I was pleased to see that at least some of the commercials at the top of the so-called rankings made a legitimate attempt to actually sell something.  Case in point: Hyundai’s Genesis spot which topped the USA Today Ad Meter rankings. 

The classic scenario of the daughter going on a date with a young man and the over-protective dad is usually good for a laugh and Hyundai delivered big time.  Kevin Hart was hilarious as the paranoid papa, but the primary message still came through loud and clear – and that was the car’s trackability feature.   

In my humble opinion, a surprisingly high number of spots this year were more effective than in previous years.  I especially liked the Audi Commander Commercial with its brilliant use of the late David Bowie’s song, Starman. 

And even though the Budweiser “Simply Put” spot with Helen Mirren went on a bit too long for my taste, it provided a creative platform for an important message.  While I have never heard of Death Wish Coffee, the storyline was certainly intriguing.  And as goofy as they are sometimes, I believe the Snicker’s spots are generally strong.

I cannot be so kind about some of the other entries in the Super Bowl advertising sweepstakes.  Sorry, Heinz and Honda, but I am not feeling the love for your bun-wrapped dachshunds and weird and wooly singing sheep. Skittles and Steve Tyler hit a sour note with me as well. 

So to the winners, congratulations and we hope to see you back in the Super Bowl next year.  To those who came up short, well, there’s always next year.

Filed Under: Advertising, Branding

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