If Christmas is the time for British brands to splash their advertising cash, the the Super Bowl is the equivalent across the pond. Costing upwards of $5million for a 30-second slot, you really want to make sure you nail it. Sadly, no-one seemed to tell these brands that. Just like Tom Brady dropping that catch in the big game, here are five ads that fumbled their big opportunity.
Using Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s words to help you sell trucks? No. Just, no.
Peyton Manning: Vacation Quarterback
For those of you who don’t follow the NFL, the chap in this ad is Peyton Manning, who used to play quarterback. He was pretty good. Very good in fact.
Unfortunately, his on-field talents clearly don’t extend to acting. This is everything it looks like; a middle-aged dad trying to be cool. Also, if he’s a ‘vacation quarterback’ then why is he acting like a coach?
Stick to football, Peyton.
Not only is their rousing, defiant, politically-nodding message coming 12 months later than most other brands, I just find this effort cringeworthy and unappealing (although that could be because I just don’t like babies). However, that’s not it’s biggest problem. The real issue here is using a twinkly, lullaby version of arguably the best song Nirvana ever wrote as a soundtrack. Stop it.
There was a lot of fuss around this one in the build up to the game, as Pepsi were due to be riding the nostalgia train home and throwing multiple nods to some of their big ads of the past. But, it seems like the hype was too much, as this is just, well, dull.
Still, at least it was more entertaining than the Pepsi-sponsored half-time show from Justin Timberlake. Every cloud.
Budweiser and Stella Artois
I totally get what Budweiser and Stella Artois were thinking with these spots; audiences today – especially younger ones – care about more than just a brand or product. They want brands to have a conscience. They want brands to be ethically sound.
But, for me, these two attempts fall flat. The Bud one is too ‘holier than thou’ for my liking while Stella Artois could surely just send that money to the developing world without requiring us all to buy a branded glass – sorry, chalice – that anyone desperate enough to want one would probably just half-inch from their local pub anyway. Make that behaviour something you just do, rather than making it tied to how much crap you sell.
What we can learn?
We saw in yesterday’s roundup of the better Super Bowl LII ads that humour was very much in vogue this year. That’s a big problem with the ads gathered above – none of them are funny. Even the poorly acted one starring the ex-NFL pro, which they probably intended to be funny, doesn’t cut it. It needed to be ‘so bad it’s funny’ but instead was just bad and not funny.
Also, these ads really highlight how difficult it is to do the whole ‘sincere, worthy and ethical’ thing well. It takes a lot more than patting yourself on the back for helping out at times or crisis or simply using the words of a real hero as the soundtrack to your shop window. It takes a lot more than that.
Lastly, stay the hell away from using Nirvana as your soundtrack. In fact, stay away from twinkly, dreamy versions of big songs all together. John Lewis, you have a lot to answer for.