BrandBowl XLVI: The Good & The Gripes

So should I start out with the good or the gripes? Because last night’s BrandBowl brought a lot more gripes than it did good in my book. Which is a low down dirty shame when you consider the ridiculously ridiculous amounts of money marketers spend on these TV spots. We’re talking upwards of $3.5 million for seconds of airtime. I can’t even fathom how many Jimmy Choo’s that could buy.

I guess I’ll start with the good – with a caveat that none of the spots this year wowed me. I’ll get to why later. But the two commercials that rose to the top for me were Budweiser’s “Return of the King” and Chrysler’s “Halftime”.

Budweiser “Return of the King”

I live in St. Louis and the Anheuser Busch heritage is a concept that I’m very familiar with. It’s something that people here have long admired and appreciated. But after the Belgian beer giant, In-Bev, took hold of the company reigns a few years ago, you could easily say that Anheuser Busch’s reputation had swiftly become tainted.

That said, you still can’t deny the history and the legacy that a brand like Budweiser has built. And “Return of the King” celebrates that legacy by telling a story that was a real part of Budweiser history.

I’ll admit I’ve been entranced by the craft beer boom and haven’t cracked a can of Budweiser (err, let’s be honest, Natty Light) since my college days. But there was a heavy dose of nostalgia that washed over me when I saw that commercial. Because no matter how many of these hot new modern microbreweries pop up, their stories will never be the same as Budweiser’s. Telling a story that’s uniquely yours is what separates you from the competition. And the more that Budweiser can share and celebrate their real-life stories, the better off I think their advertising will be.

Chrysler “It’s Halftime in America”

If you read my BrandBowl recap from last year, you’ll remember how I raved about Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit”. Well, this year’s follow-up, “It’s Halftime in America”, featuring Clint Eastwood, was pretty good, too. It’s a raw reflection of what our country is going through right now. But more importantly, it’s a raw call to action that our country has, can and will endure.

What’s so commendable about this commercial is that Chrysler is being a thought leader, a lighthouse. They’re becoming the brand that represents Detroit and is positioning it as a city to look up to because of its struggle and hardships and lessons learned. Making the connection that America is in the same boat is actually really smart. And so is the copy. This is the kind of copy that copywriters dream about!

So why wasn’t I wowed?

Maybe my expectations are too high, but when I see a SuperBowl commercial that costs more than your average arm and leg, I don’t just want to laugh or be entertained. Commercials that cost that amount of money have to mean something. They have to say something about your brand that’s not only memorable, but meaningful to your audience. A chuckle isn’t enough to get someone to buy your product.

That may be why I tend to lean towards the more serious SuperBowl spots. They evoke feeling and have a message that I find relevant. And those are characteristics that are often lacking in spots like Bud Light’s “Rescue Dog” or Doritos’ “Sling Baby” or the scum of all SuperBowl commercials, Go Daddy.

As much as we criticize these ads though, it must be said that this line of business is incredibly hard to do. That’s why not everyone can do it. And as easy as it is for us to say how bad they sucked this year, it’s a million times more difficult to be the creators behind the commercials.

Oh well, better luck next year.

 

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