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What The Super Bowl Taught Us, About “Us”


Alex Tutungi - March 1, 2019

Where were you, when the Bud Light Knight died? I was 12 chicken wings deep and somehow, also on my second piece of cake, when the world saw the tragic end of a hero we had only just begun to understand. A ruthless blow from advertisers banking on a huge crossover marketing appeal. The risk paid off.

There is maybe no other event that offers so unique an insight into social trends as the Super Bowl. Throughout its 4 or 5 hours run time, viewers are treated to a thorough case study of political, social and market trends. Nothing is done without a good reason…at least we hope considering the costs of running an ad.

Here are a few things we learned this year:

AI and Data on everyone’s mind…

Ads Featured: TurboTax, Simplisafe, Pringles, Michelob Ultra, Sprint, Amazon,

It’s safe to assume you’ll see a consistent theme or two with the ads each year That said, BOY was AI an easy target–it was the universal punchline.

Ranging from the absurd, the creepy, and the comical; to the legitimately fearful, distrust was at the center of it all.

To me, this was the most telling trend of the day. Not only how it was ridiculed, but how easily many of those ads played on fear. For all the advances AI is making, and for all the ways that we know it’s application will revolutionize our daily lives, it has a clear PR battle ahead of it.

Now, excuse me while I go try and wash the haunting sound of “RoboChild’s” laugh/cry from my mind forever with some music…Alexa!

Green is the new flex   

Ads Featured: Toyota Rav4, Audi

Lots of companies brought important social issues to the table. Bumble and Microsoft put equality and inclusion at the center of their campaigns, with excellent spots that were empowering and inspiring.

Audi and Toyota ran ads highlighting new hybrid and electric models, communicating that these products are dream-worthy and justice-oriented, respectively. Hybrid and Electric vehicles have always been a rallying cry of environmental advocates, but companies like Audi are cementing the idea that they are the pinnacle of luxury as well.

Toyota specifically, tied their Hybrid Rav4 commercial to “expectation shattering” female athlete Toni Harris, who became the first female athlete to receive a college football scholarship. If owning a hybrid/electric vehicle is as “expectation shattering” as the issues they were tied to, is for you to decide, but the message is clear: this is the vehicle of pioneers.

Don’t embarrass yourself by flexing horsepower on people. Flex lower emissions.

Race to Zero Cals, Zero Sugar, and Zero Corn Syrup

Ads Featured: Bubly, Bon & Viv, Budlight

Last year, Pepsi dished out a cool 3.2 BIL to acquire Israeli “Fizzy-Soda” company “SodaStream.” This, on top of their already existing sparkling water line, Bubly. It’s a solid indication of where the soft-drink market is: give it natural flavoring, add some bubbles and take away EVERYTHING ELSE.

From water, to soda, hell, even ALCOHOL, nothing is safe from the sparkling revolution. Speaking of alcohol, Budlight and MillerCoors are showing just how serious those healthy optics are. Clearly feeling themselves, Bud Light decided to dunk all over MillerCoors, by calling them out for still for still using high fructose corn syrup. Obviously, MillerCoors took issue with this attack and thus, the twitter beef we never knew we needed was born…

Many would argue Bud Light had no reason to make that move, given their position as the undeniable market leader. What Bud Light and others are showing us is that health, isn’t something you can be too loud about.

Nostalgia sells

Ads Featured: Stella, Planters, Doritos, Sprint

I’m a millennial. You don’t have to remind me that the ’90s were a thing–every other millennial on earth already has that covered. Still, nothing sells quite like nostalgia.

As a result, Carrie Bradshaw, “The Dude”, Charlie Sheen, The Backstreet Boys, and Bo Jackson (to name a few), all found their way to our screens on Super Bowl Sunday. The thing is, I’m not mad about it. I enjoy shameless reboots as much as anyone.

Speaking of, in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” moody bad-dude Kylo Ren declares, “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.”

As long as Superbowl Ads remain, he won’t be getting his wish any time soon.

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