05 Feb What Super Bowl LIV’s most liked ads tell us about us
With almost 2,000 commercial TV stations in the country, declining network TV ratings, streaming services offering commercial-free TV and internet ad blockers, Americans are not used to seeing the great advertising creative that once helped unify the country and shape the national zeitgeist.
Except for once a year during the Super Bowl – when Americans of all persuasions from all walks of life and all parts of the country come together for a single broadcast event.
This year, nearly 100 million people (99.9 million, to be exact) tuned into Super Bowl LIV. That’s almost a third of the entire U.S. population of 327.2 million.
Advertising’s national showcase.
With the largest captive audience of the year, advertisers spare no expense to deliver commercials they hope will break through the clutter of the rest of the year. According to Adweek, this year’s Super Bowl earned the Fox network a record-breaking $435 million in game advertising revenue.
With the cost to run a 30-second Super Bowl LIV spot up to $5.6 million plus hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in production costs, the Super Bowl is THE national showcase for the best TV commercials of the year, some of which will run only during the Super Bowl. Of course, the ones that go viral are worth way more.
Despite the hopes of advertisers and their agencies, what they think is great advertising doesn’t always win with viewers. How viewers respond to the lavish spending tells us what was and wasn’t worth the expense. It also tells a lot about us as people.
Creative excess doesn’t equal high ratings.
As the creative arbiter of the industry, Adweek ranks the spots and also uses Intagram to get the people’s ratings. Before discussing the viewers’ most loved spots, I admit I was puzzled by the huge number of spots featuring high-priced celebrities with no organic relationship to the brands. Stats show celebrity endorsements do boost sales, but only if the celebs already have a relationship with the audience or the brand. But I confess I didn’t recognize even half of the celebrity pitch people.
And then there were the many spots featuring bilious colors, rampant CGI, head-spinning editing and undecipherable or non-existent plots. I guess the assumption there is that more of anything and everything is better, whether it’s relevant to the brand or not.
The winners and losers – the people’s choice.
According to Adweek, the two most liked Super Bowl commercials were the Bill Murray Groundhog Day spot for Jeep (89% liked) and the Google spot “Remembering Loretta” (87% liked).They were my favorites too. What their popularity tells us about us is worth thinking about.
On the surface, they have nothing in common. The hilarious action-packed Jeep spot parodies the beloved iconic movie based on its obvious link to the fact that the game was being played on Groundhog Day. The tear-jerking Google spot is a simple compilation of text being typed across the screen with photos and videos of the now-gone Loretta, narrated by the sad voice of her grieving husband. Under it all are the simple sounds of typing and an understated music track.
All is not lost.
What these two most liked spots have in common is that both tell a story – each a good-hearted, honest take on what it means to be human. Is it not good to know that in this era of division, craving for fame and constant need to acquire the latest and greatest new devices, more enduring values matter to us more? Obviously, there’s no substitute for a good story. But both spots are more than that.