The 2nd Annual Big Gamey’s: My Awards for Super Bowl Commercials. Again.

big_gameyWelcome back to the Big Gameys – where the awards are made up and the points don’t matter. For the 2nd year of my awards, I’ve got some repeat categories mixed in with some new ones. Let’s do this.

Oreo Lights Out Award: Totino’s Live Tweeting the Super Bowl…a Day Early

The real time social media engagement inaugurated by this award’s namesake is now common place. It’s harder to have that breakthrough tweet, vine, snap with everyone doing it now (link to monster). So Totino’s delivered their realtime campaign before anyone else could, on the day before the game. The ridiculously #sparts mocking campaign was pretty clever, my only knock was that (gross generalization warning) mostly sports mind males eat Totino’s products, so coming across as not knowing football seems a little off brand. But still, it was unique.

Runner Up: Monster “Congratulations Seattle!

What the Heck Just Happened? Award: Nationwide “Make Safe Happen”

So much has been said already about where they went astray. It wasn’t the message, it was the messenger. We can debate how altruistic Nationwide’s intentions where (Hint: this backlash didn’t surprise them). What they could have done was made a PSA that was a little less sales pitchy or even a little less morbid. Adding a tagline to dead kids is just bad.

Runners Up: Loctite “#WinAtGlue

Troll Award: Chevy “Blackout”

Some may have missed it as it aired right before kickoff, but this was one of the rare ones that tried to sell something – Wi-Fi in a truck. So in a way it is a troll on two counts. Actually trying to sell something during the Super Bowl and making people think their cable just went our right before the game. It was timely, clever and tried to sell me something.

Runner Up: Budweiser bidding other brands keywords on twitter

Bourne Identity Crisis Award: Nationwide

They went from Mindy Kaling being invisible to that dead kid one. It doesn’t get much more polar opposite than that. The Mindy commercial was ok, but was completely overshadowed by the dead kid one.  Mindy’s ad hence became a waste which is unfortunate because it was the only one that delivered the brand message.

The Budweiser Puppy Overrated Award: Budweiser “Lost Dog”

The Budweiser puppy wins 2nd year in a row – first repeat award so I named it after him/her.  The cute, cuddly canine wins this year for the same reasons as last, so I’ll just copy what I said last year:

“I know why people like this commercial – the warm fuzzies. I get that Budweiser was telling a ‘buds’ story utilizing their iconic Clydesdales. But the horse took a back seat to the dog (as cute as it may have been). The ad is receiving attention for reasons other than the product or the brand. In contrast, last year’s [2013] ad featuring the Clydesdale and its trainer told a similar story, but with more brand-centric warm fuzzies.”

Tried Too Hard to be Cool Award: Nissan “With Dad”

Cool this year were emotions and dads. Nissan went heavy on both and whiffed. The commercial had a breakneck pace which made the story hard to get. Only thing help me grasp the story was the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” playing in the background- which as several have pointed out, may not have been the best choice.

Runner Up: Toyota

Newcastle Best Campaign by a Non-Super Bowl Advertiser Award: Newcastle “Band of Brands”

Once again this award’s namesake created an elaborate marketing campaign around the Super Bowl without being an official advertiser. Last year’s target was the hype and epic quality of Super Bowl ads. This year, the target was more specific – Doritos popular “Crash the Super Bowl” ad crowdsourcing campaign. For the “Band of Brands,” the beer brand used Aubrey Plaza to pitch the idea of several brands pulling their money to create an ad with all of them in it. A total of 37 took Newcastle up on their offer. The idea and Plaza both fit Newcastle’s “No Bollucks” brand. See the whole campaign at www.newcastlebandofbrands.com.

Runners up: Totino’s

Best Laugh Award: Snickers “The Brady Bunch”

Not as many to choose from this year’s somber bowl. Snickers took their popular “you’re not you when you’re hungry” ads up a notch with Danny Trejo as Marsha Brady. It was weird, but probably accurate. They then topped it off with a Steve Buscemi as Jan zinger.

Runner up: Fiat “Blue Pill

Haters Gonna Hate Award: GoDaddy “Working”

GoDaddy had to scramble after its original ad had been pulled, and as many critics pointed out, it showed. In a vacuum, it’s a great ad. It empathizes with a key target audience – those small business owners, working when others are partying. While it was a little underwhelming for the spectacle of the Super Bowl, it is still a great ad.

Best Rip-off of Another Super Bowl Advertiser Award:  Esurance

I liked the concept even though Snickers sorta has done the same thing for awhile now and did it in the Super Bowl. In a vacuum, it’s a great concept that makes a more logical point than the original. It also had pretty good star power. Sorta like Snickers.

Lost in Translation Award: Toyota

It’s hard to translate incredible feats of determined amputees to a car brand. Sorry, can’t do it. The people are inspirational. The shiny new Camry that they drive is not.

Warm Fuzzies Award: Always “Like a Girl”

Unusually large crop of ads this year that made you feel all kinds of feels. Dads. Puppies. Overcoming disabilities. Dead kids. As a dad of a daughter, “Like a Girl” takes the cake. Sure I’m biased, but everyone has different emotional triggers (puppy’s just don’t do it for me). The message is powerfully delivered and made me a little uncomfortable in a good way. Despite my feelings, it still falls into the doesn’t-really-sell-anything trap, but the cause is a natural fit (I don’t think you can get a much more feminine brand).

Best of Show: Mophie “All-Powerless”

It didn’t really strike me at first, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it. I had never heard of the brand before, so that helped its cause here. It captures that feeling – as trivial as it may seem – that everyone gets when their phone dies. THE WORLD IS ENDING. It then introduces its product as a solution to a problem, which as I have said before, is a rarity in the Super Bowl.

Like I said before, my Super Bowl viewing was limited so tell me what I missed.

My Super Bowl Winners: Oreo, GoDaddy & Social Media

It was the Super Bowl. This is marketing blog. This post had to happen. My winners are:
Oreo

Volumes are being written about Oreo’s tweet during the blackout and rightfully so. With a single tweet, Oreo stole the Super Bowl. The tweet is overshadowing the fact that they also had a pretty good commercial themselves. The “Whisper Fight” was entertaining as people quietly “disagreed” on their favorite part of the Oreo – the cookie or the creme. The end featured a curious call to action asking the audience to follow on Instagram. Not the first social media platform you think of, but it worked. Oreo’s Instagram account went from 2,000 followers to 15,000 in a matter of seconds. As of this posting their account is over 48,000.

And this wasn’t just a grab for followers in order to spam their feeds, there was a purpose. Oreo asks followers to tag a photo as #cookiethis or #cremethis and will recreate your image with that part of the Oreo. They weren’t interested in a shot-in-the-dark hashtag conversation. With Oreos and artists standing by to immortalize Instagram photos in cookies or creme, this was a plan for real action. Oreo played smart with their social integration and were looking good before their famous tweet was sent.

GoDaddy

I never, ever thought I would have anything positive to say about GoDaddy advertising. I also never thought this Steelers’ fan would cheer for the Ravens, but it was that kind of night. GoDaddy’s “Perfect Match” still resorted to the brand’s sex sells approach and was hard to watch. However, the way that squeamish feeling was created was what made this ad work brilliantly. GoDaddy didn’t settle for the lowest common denominator of sexual exploitation of scantily clad women this time. Bar Refaeli actually had some clothes on. The uncomfortably close camera angle and almost nauseating smooching sounds were well crafted and thus succeeded in making a memorable ad.

This well-executed ad was paired with the tamer “YourBigIdea.co”. This was one of the few Super Bowl ads that actually tried to sell something by illustrating the consequence of not using GoDaddy. They were also able to sneak in a little urgency too. With two ads that didn’t completely scream sex, GoDaddy seemed to grow up a little bit.

Social Media

Social media didn’t win because of the numerous calls to action featuring Facebook liking and hashtags. Seriously, the only time I use a hashtag from a commercial is to make fun of the brand for their overblown sense of self-worth  Social media won when a few brands acted like their followers do – human. The timely tweets from Oreo, Walgreens and a few others contrasted strongly with the ones that were carefully timed and scrutinized before being cued. The blackout threw wrenches in many plans. However these few brands used twitter like normal people used twitter – spontaneous reactions to what was happening around them. (See how Oreo did it)

Engagement can’t be manufactured. In my experience managing my employer’s social media presence, I have seen much more engagement when the company acts more human and less corporate. With a case study on successful integration of television and social from advertising’s biggest stage, hopefully brands start taking more risks and participating instead of strictly promoting. It would make them easier to follow.

The Favorites

To wrap this up, here are my top 10 ads in no particular order, and in some cases no particular reason: