Post-Game Summary: The 2014 Ad Bowl

February 03, 2014

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While the game clock may have hit zero, advertisements are still running at full speed, thank you #BrandBowl and #AdBowl. Here’s NorBella’s best, worst and most memorable!

The brands that traded in their normal go-to crude humor for more heartfelt stories, patriotic messages and family-friendly vibes this year produced some of our favorite spots. Antigone Smith, a NorBella Digital Buyer, loved Coca Cola’s, “America the Beautiful” spot. Noting, “It was a touching reminder that America is a melting pot and that Coke is part of our culture, which ties us all together.” Another one of our favorites (as we predicted!) was Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.” NorBella’s Media Director, Greg Angland called the spot, “a feel-good highlight, although it was a fairly predictable approach that mimics earlier Bud spots.” The spot aired towards the end of the game when viewer interest dipped, which may have impacted its popularity.

PicMonkey Collage

Photos from for Budweiser,
for RadioShack, and for T-Mobile

Some ads that shined unexpectedly for us were RadioShack’s “The Phone Call,” Cheerios “Gracie” and T-Mobile’s “No Contract.” RadioShack’s spot was attention-grabbing and clever. Pam Caputo, a Media Supervisor at NorBella commented, “RadioShack’s 80’s approach definitely made me laugh – way to own up to their business issues and introduce their goal of rebranding through a creative spot.” Cheerios “Gracie” had a simple and cute plotline. Greg Angland noted, “I enjoyed the Cheerios spot, and probably would have liked it more without all the controversy surrounding it.[1] It was a good, simple and genuine message, with a bit of child humor thrown in. It didn’t feel like Cheerios was trying too hard, as with some of the large production commercials trying to one up each other.” T-Mobile’s “No Contract” campaign with Tim Tebow, showed him in a new light and got their brand messaging across. “T-Mobile cleverly utilized the Tim Tebow machine, knowing he’d draw a response, good or bad. Moreover, he humorously poked fun at himself for a full 30 seconds,” shared Ali Weitzner, a NorBella Media Planner (and huge football fan!).

Here’s a quick list of all our favorites:

  • Coca Cola
  • Toyota
  • RadioShack
  • Volkswagen
  • Budweiser
  • Maserati
  • Esurance
  • Cheerios
  • Audi
  • Chrysler
  • Pistachios
  • Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

Some disappointments for us included, which we predicted would be one of the most talked about ads. For a company that has made their name on some risqué spots, the storyline of a woman quitting her job on-air didn’t live up to their famous reputation. Some other ads that we didn’t think maximized their $4 million dollar spots were SquareSpace and Subway. “I think Squarespace’s commercial was good and on point to their brand but their ad got lost in the shuffle,” remarked Steve Hmura, a NorBella Broadcast Media Supervisor. Subway’s “Fritos” sub, on the other hand, did not appeal to the taste buds of our group at all.

As projected, Twitter was very active with more than 24.9 million Tweets sent during the game.[2] While more than half of the commercials incorporated hashtags, we think Esurance was one brand who was innovative in their placement to engage viewers with paid, owned and earned media. Promoting a clever $1.5 million giveaway through a hashtag sweepstakes, fans were told they had 36 hours to tweet #EsuranceSave30 for a chance to win the money. Ali Weitzner stated, “As an advertising nerd, I loved what Esurance did with their spot and connecting different media vehicles to extend branding via organic social lift and earned media, announcing the winner on Jimmy Kimmel.” However, it seems like the sweeps is running a little wild, and more focus is on the buzz of a sweeps vs. actually connecting folks with Esurance’s brand message.

For 2015, one thing that we can be sure of is that Super Bowl spots will sell for even more money and will continue to be the largest platform a brand has available, reaching 100MM people in a single shot. This year, we’d love to see more positive vibes, brands owning who they are, and smart ways to connect paid, owned and earned media within the ever-changing digital landscape.