For years, I watched the Super Bowl in amazement of all the work each team put into their season and the work all of the journalists did while covering the event. Because after all, that’s what the Super Bowl is: An event.
That’s why it’s such a prime opportunity for brands to tell their story and connect with consumers all over the world. Since I made the switch from journalism to strategic marketing, I still enjoy the game but my focus is on the commercials. Watching how a brand takes advantage of such a captive audience brings me great satisfaction when it’s done right.
Over the coming days, you will see many other Super Bowl ads reaction blogs or videos that call out the “winners and losers of Super Bowl LV.”
This isn’t one of those articles.
I don’t believe you can judge an ad on how it performs in the first 24-48 hours of it running. Instead, all of these ads should be judged on the business results over the next 6-12 months. However, we can give a quick assessment on the storytelling ability of a selection of ads from Sunday night.
Here’s how the assessment works
We are judging the 2021 Super Bowl ads on a scale of 1–5 in each of the following categories: Storytelling, Buzzworthiness, Creativity and Call to Action with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. A perfect ad will receive a score of 20. Here are the questions I am asking as I watch.
Storytelling: Did the commercial effectively tell a story, tie in the audience and showcase its solution? Was the problem the brand solves for the customer clear?
Buzzworthiness: Will this commercial be talked about tomorrow at the (virtual) water cooler? What about two months from now? Did it spark conversation or was the audience waiting for the next commercial?
Creativity: Did the commercial stretch their imagination or was it just like every other commercial we see throughout the year? Was it too creative and not easy to understand?
Call to Action: At the end of the commercial, was there a call to action that a captive audience was supposed to take? Was it a philosophical CTA or was it something that urged us to act now?
Indeed’s Commercial on The Rising
This was one of my favorite Super Bowl ads of the night. Indeed did an incredible job of telling a story in a creative, yet simple way. The lack of voiceover is always a risk, but by showcasing the actual people who are using their platform, Indeed hit the mark on storytelling and creativity.
As for buzzworthiness, it has an appeal for some. But for others, they likely will watch the beginning of the commercial and wait for it to be over. Still, it has over 62,000 views on YouTube so it’s doing its job. Lastly, the CTA here is clear for those that need work. But, it’s a soft CTA, without a true next step for the audience. All in all, this was a great 60-second spot for Indeed during a time where their services are greatly needed.
Call to Action: 4
General Motors and Will Ferrell team up to take on Norway
Is there anything else to say other than Will Ferrell is always a good decision? This ad from General Motors featured everything you need from a storytelling perspective. It had a fantastic cast starring Ferrell, Keenan Thompson and Awkwafina. Then, it instantly identified the villain, which in this case, is Norway.
Creativity and buzzworthiness were off the charts putting this ad near the top of the charts for the night. The only reason it dropped from a perfect score was the lack of a clear call to action for consumers. Still, this represents a beautiful opportunity for GM to continue telling a story through this series.
Call to Action: 3
Bass Pro and Cabela’s call us back to nature
My favorite ad of the night, without a doubt. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s showcased incredible footage of the outdoors, while addressing a feeling we all have right now: being stuck. It featured a diverse cast of ecstatic outdoors enthusiasts and hit the mark on something that we can all connect with.
The ad received a little backlash online for including the phrase “In these trying times” but it effectively placed that phrase in the voiceover from the narrator. The narrator finished with the best call to action of the night: “We need nature to help us heal and reconnect with the ones we love the most. So when you can, get back to nature. Get back to each other.”
Call to Action: 5
M&M’s come together with Dan Levy
Simplicity. That’s the word that came to mind when watching M&M’s “Come Together” commercial featuring “Schitt’s Creek” Dan Levy. It was an ad that featured dry humor, including when a woman apologized to another woman for calling her Karen. Then, it turned out her name was actually Karen. So, a second gift of M&Ms was given out, of course.
Call to Action: 3
“It wasn’t me:” Cheetos utilizes Shaggy, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis
Leave it to Cheetos to have the funniest ad of the night, which featured a star-studded cast of Shaggy, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. To set the scene, Kunis continued to get caught stealing Kutcher’s Cheetos. And, of course, he was singing Shaggy’s “It wasn’t me.”
Shaggy, naturally, was sitting on the couch in the living room and suggested Kunis reply “It wasn’t me.” The next minute made for hilarious comedy. Shaggy remixed his famous song to revolve around Cheetos, and its climactic finish pits Kutcher finally confronting Kunis on whether or not she stole the Cheetos.
After Kunis responded by saying it wasn’t her and Kutcher accepts it, the ad ends with Shaggy saying “Well, that’s the first time that’s ever worked.”
Call to Action: 4
AB tells everyone: “Let’s Grab A Beer”
Much like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, Anheuser-Busch’s “Let’s Grab a Beer” commercial was flawless in terms of a call to action and creating an instant feeling of life before and after the pandemic. Without needing to say “In these trying times,” the 90-second commercial showcased difficult moments of all shapes and sizes and how coming together is the way to solve it.
It also marked the first ever Super Bowl commercial for AB InBev’s Anheuser-Busch, and the first corporate-level commercial which featured a plethora of their products. As the commercial closes, it ends with beautifully-written text on screen: “It’s never just about the beer. It’s about being together.”
Call to Action: 5
Want to talk Super Bowl ads or how your marketing can create a buzz? We’d like the chance to give you an overall score of 20. Chat with us.