News & Views
Did anyone win at Super Bowl LI?

Last night marketers and creatives all around the world had their eyes and full attention on the U.S. (and no, it wasn’t because of Trump!) as Houston lit up the stage for Super Bowl LI.

Since last winter, we’ve been waiting for the largest advertising budgets, greatest film directors and biggest celebrities to come together and bring to life the most exciting ads of the year. So let’s get straight to it.

There were winners and losers with multiple celebrity appearances, some brands taking their TVCs into the digital-sphere and some even having their say about trending social issues. But was it all worth the spend?

For us, Snickers really nailed it by shooting the first live Super Bowl commercial, moving from the home screens and sparking social conversation. The ad features Adam Driver in what seems to be a failed attempt at shooting a TV commercial, but what’s really interesting is the reactiveness of the brand, citing live game results and supported by a 36-hour live stream on both Snickers’s Facebook and Twitter channels that included several sketches such as “Cowboy Comebacks” – a clear take on Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities reading mean tweets”.

We also had T-Mobile mock Verizon by parodying a scene from Fifty Shades of Grey and prompting consumers to go with Verizon if they were into “that sort of thing”. They weren’t alone on that one, though, as Sprint showed a consumer faking his death just to get out of a Verizon contract.

Now here’s what we liked (and didn’t) from the brands that touched on the global outrage unleashed by President Donald Trump in the last few months:

Audi, Expedia and Airbnb shared messages of egalitarianism, but they felt flat and rather forced. In particular, Audi’s ad caused viewers to cringe with its sickly sentimental message and a car shoehorned in at the end. In our opinion the NFL got it right; it resonates with anyone who’s watched or played the sport. It didn’t feel forced and matched its audience with a message that inspired unity. Whether you’re pro-Trump or anti-Trump, the message of a united America comes through in a powerful way.

On wider current issues, Budweiser delved into its past reminding everyone that the beer of America was founded by an immigrant from Germany. However, Lumber 84 took it a step further, depicting the journey of two immigrants who are greeted by Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border. The banned advert, for us, is a stark defiance in the face of Trump and shows a brand who acts strongly on what it believes.

Both ads have divided opinions between the political right and left but are startling examples of brands that stand behind their purpose. This year brands have a huge opportunity to stand up for what they believe is right, and to make their mark on the world. It’s no longer about making ads to showcase products, it’s not about beautiful award winning ads, it’s not even about storytelling. It’s about making brands matter and making them matter in this upside down world.

PS. Really, Justin Timberlake? #BaiBaiBai ?

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