Living in America means certain days of the year are a time for embracing American traditions. Thanksgiving is like Christmas without the presents, and it’s all the better for it. The Fourth Of July is like Guy Fawkes night but with more beer, fireworks and guns but without the relentlessly grim PSA adverts where a child gets scarred for life because a sparkler went out of control and burned it’s face off.
Then there is the Super Bowl. Unlike English sporting events I’ve grown up with where the adverts are the time when you go put the kettle on, this American sport is designed with maximising profit potential in mind by fitting as much advertising in as possible. This becomes hyper apparent on the day of the Super Bowl, the climax of the American Football season where advertising slots cost around $160,000 per second.
This has lead to some amazing creativity over the years as companies use advertising agencies to make use of the millions upon millions of eyeballs and make as much impact as possible for the money spent. Many iconic ads have debuted at the Super Bowl and the ads have become as much of the entertainment as the sport itself. This has lead to the phenomenon of non sports fans watching the Super Bowl for the ads alone.
This year was an odd year as of the current political climate many companies went for showing how diverse they are or just flat out promoting diversity. As this is about the car adverts, let’s look at how this particularly showed in Audis advert:
Networked Insights is a research firm that mines social media sites and pointed out that of th 4,580 comments made about the Audi commercial on social platforms as of Thursday (the pre-released the ad) about 25% of the comments were negative while 13% have been positive.
Some “disliked the ad because they believed it was pure political propaganda,” while others thought it to be “disingenuous coming from a brand that has never taken a stance on the topic in the past,”.
Positive commentators, according to the research firm, found the ad to be “uplifting and praised Audi for addressing the issue of gender.”
Misogynist haters just hated in the YouTube comments. Because that’s what mysogynists do rather than have girlfriends or wives.
Personally I think Audi just over compensated for criticism of last years advert which centred on a retired astronaut who rediscovers his lust for life with the help of the R8 V-10-plus supercar his son hands him the keys to. Like any thinking person I understand equal pay should be a given by now, and this advert felt patronising to say the least. That’s because it wasn’t a message directed at heavy browed club carrying cavemen in suits, it was a saccharine filled message you can boil down to “buy an Audi, please, we’re not sexist”.
Kia opted for a more traditional Super Bowl advert and went with full blown comedy and a hot property superstar in the shape of Melissa McCarthy. They boldly weaved in acknowledgement of environmental issues and then showed some humility in knowing their place and selling the fuel economy of their Niro model.
They also hit their demographic hard by using Bonnie Tylers “I Need A Hero” as a soundtrack, which if you are over thirty years old you can’t fail to know. If you are me though, you have a somewhat weird and deep love for the welsh songstress and recently found yourself singing along to this very song at the top of you voice and at a set of traffic lights next to a busy sidewalk.
Having forgotten the windows are down.
Anyway, I’ve beaten pretty hard on Kia recently for their careless advertising but this one had all the right beats and did it’s job well.
Lexus went straight for their demographic by using the incredibly talented and lithe professional dancer Lil’ Buck to compare him with the 2017 Lexus LC. Then they soundtracked it with Sia’s “Move Your Body to make a video.
This whole video was no doubt conceived in a boardroom where phrases such as “Appeal to youth”, “it needs to pop!” and “it needs to look clean and contemporary” were batted around in front of a couple of music video directors that had already booked the talent, got the rights and were on to the planning how to spend the check stage of the deal.
Slick and full of talent but an odd choice to throw down for a Super Bowl advert where the aim of the game is to be a topic of discussion at the waterco-
Wait. I mean to be a hashtag on Twitter and a trend on Facebook.
I suspect they will get their mileage out of this one by airing it on a couple of TV channels for a few months
Ford threw down a solid home run this year. They went for the ingredients that make a crowd pleasing Super Bowl advert – have people wondering for a bit what this advert might be for, then make them smile with some gentle comedy and make sure to drop in something super cute. Then mix the emotion before having the perfectly picked soundtrack kick in and hammer the brand message home.
No demographic in particular was aimed for, the aim of the game was simply to put the Ford brand positively in your head.
My only complaint is, well, it’s more of a question actually:
Did the cat ever get it’s head out of the box?
Before we get into this, it’s worth noting that Alfa Romeo is part of the FIAT-Chrysler Automobiles group which includes the American based brands of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram. All of these offer vehicles that are a staple of the key demographic served by American football – ‘Muricans!
The Dodge RAM truck, the Dodge Challenger and Charger or any Jeep you stick a pin in while blindfolded… these vehicles are steak to the meat and potatoes football watching Americans that took their hats off and put their hand over their heart for a country and western superstar singing the national anthem at the beginning of a sports game.
Throwing down a very costly trilogy of adverts for an Italian sports car to that audience is a bold move.
Yep, that was the first one of three adverts that broadcast during the game. It’s a statement letting us know that after 20 years away, Alfa Romeo is back. Masculine and feminine. Sophisticated and modern. Strong and agile. Perfectly balanced.
And all that good stuff.
The second piece was a letter addressing the concept of predicability with contempt, and showing off the sites and sounds of an Giulia hammering along a windy road.
Great stuff and excellent branding.
Finally they went full Italian and played the stereotype for all it’s worth. The accent narrating, the music, the style, the passion and that exhaust note.
Welcome back Alfa, we hope you stay this time.
Finally (ish) we come to Mercedes who went full U.S of A on us and wrote a fat check for Peter Fonda, the right to use Steppenwolfe for the soundtrack and the Cohen brothers to direct and advert for the AMG GT Roadster.
This one is obviously directed at all of America, but aimed at the guys in the executive boxes.
I get the the Coen brothers turned the whole youth and rebellion schtick on it’s head with a crowd pleasing face and piece of music, but it left me a little cold with it’s lack of real humour or warmth.
It didn’t leave me as cold as the Buick advert though, which was cute but failed by telling me that the car is good looking and desirable because it really isn’t. It looks like an MX-5 ate all the pies then melted a little on the tanning bed after some plastic surgery.
Ok. For completion sake, I’ll drop the commercial here – but promise me you’ll go back and watch those Alfa Romeo Adverts again because exhaust note.