Social Media Lessons from the 2018 Super Bowl Ads
Cover image source: AdWeek’s “Every Ad is a Tide Ad”
Yesterday, over 100 million people were paying attention to one TV show at the same time. Not only were they watching, they were tweeting, posting and sharing the experience with each other.
Advertising is the business of buying attention — magazines, Facebook, transit, TV, they’re all just ways to exchange cash for eyeballs, so while the rates for Super Bowl ads are bananas, it would be more surprising if they weren’t.
That means that the big game attracts the best of the best — it’s the day that agencies and marketers plan for all year, and where they roll out all of their latest tricks.
Each year I write up a rundown of Super Bowl campaigns not only so that I can write off my bar bill as a business expense (clever though, right?) but also because the Super Bowl ad campaigns are one of the best indications to all of us of where marketing is headed. Back in 2011, Audi became the first major advertiser to put a hashtag into a TV ad, marking a massive shift towards integrated digital/traditional campaigns.
Since then, we’ve written about the following trends kicked off by the Super Bowl:
- 2016’s Super Bowl 50 was all about Snapchat, AR (lenses & filters) and PuppyMonkeyBaby.
- 2017’s Super Bowl 51 was about the “leaking” of traditional ads to cause online conversation, signalling a year of campaigns that no longer saw digital as a standalone channel, but as an essential element of a successful campaign.
2018’s Super Bowl 52
There were some beauties this year, and a few that would have been better off leaving that $5-million in the bank. The major trend this year was this: The internet is no longer a gimmick or a tactic, it’s a deeply rooted foundational element of every campaign.
Where 2011-2017 dropped hashtags, handles, and Shazam integrations all over their ads, 2018 went back to smart, beautiful, or shocking advertising. and used their digital platforms in parallel. Here’s a few examples of what I mean:
Michelob partnered with Chris Pratt to put together a beer/fitness lover’s anthem.
In the weeks leading up to the ad, they teased the spot by partnering on a running joke on both Pratt’s social channels & their own, and they kept the conversation going through his Instagram, no call-out necessary on the ad itself. Influencers are valuable because they give us authentic access to an audience. If we’re using our ads to drive attention to their accounts, we’ve got it backwards.
The other thing that I love about this campaign is that it’s unashamed. Influencer collaborations work so hard to be coy or subtle, that the message gets completely lost at times. This Michelob campaign is a paid partnership and it isn’t afraid to be, because it has a clear message with well shot content made specifically for social. When our campaigns are really good, we don’t need to pretend that they’re not ads.
In the age of influencer overload, sometimes the most authentic collaborations are between brands. They also need content, you may have crossover in your audiences, you rarely have to pay to collaborate, and as long as the message works for both of your brands, you end up spending half as much to make the content.
Also, anyone catch the subtle allusion to the third brand in this video?
Hint: It’s a Song about Fire and Ice
It’s hard to top the natural marriage of pop & chips, but how about fast cars and superheroes?
We all have brands like these that have complementary stories to tell and opportunities to collaborate, even if it’s as simple as an Instagram Story takeover.
Bud did it years ago with Wasssssup, Dos Equis did it with the Most Interesting Man In The World and Captain Morgan keeps trying to make “Captain’ing” a thing. When it’s good, it’s so good.
Bud Light didn’t create anything new this year, they’re running with the Dilly Dilly meme that they created last year, and threading it deep into their ads so much so that it feels like a natural part of conversation.
Pringles tried really hard with their Wow campaign, pushing it into Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook feeds, really trying to spark some sweet internet flavour creativity. They’ve even launched a goofy landing page where you can stack chips by clicking cans: wowyoucanstackpringles.com. It would have killed in 2012.
The Real MVP
A great idea is just a great idea, and Tide smashed this one.
How does a detergent beat out beer, chips, and superheroes? They called back some of the greatest ads of all time to make a really good point: Just about every great ad has really clean clothes. So, in effect, every ad is actually a #TideAd.
I actually jumped off my couch when I saw this one. The concept is just so brilliant, the casting, the placement, and the execution nailed it.
Then, it’s another Tide ad:
And yet another Tide ad:
When the ad is that good, you don’t even need a social campaign (see: every Apple launch), but they ran some great, well targeted followup ads from the campaign across social channels, and created organic content that extended the conversation.
While there’s no tidy bow that we can put on the 2018 Super Bowl ads as the trend of the year, what we definitely know now is something that you and I have been talking about for a while: Social is here to stay, and it’s best when it’s not a quirky novelty off to the side, but when it’s just a natural part of the story.
Did you have a favourite that I missed? Check out the full rundown on AdAge, and if you disagree/have feedback, shoot us a tweet: @JunctionYVR. Dilly Dillys always welcome.
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