Illumine8 After Hours: Super Bowl commercial winners & losers

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As we stated in our last Illumine8 After Hours recap, with over 100 million people watching this year, the Super Bowl is the place for brands to showcase their best ads and ad campaigns. Whether they made you laugh or cringe, if you watched the Big Game this year, you probably noticed some ads that stood out.

It’s clear that while some of these commercials hit their mark, others missed it completely. We review the winners and losers of Super Bowl LII, as well as the most creative techniques, in our latest episode of Illumine8 After Hours.

Watch the full episode here:

Most Creative Approaches:

Tide Ad:

So, is it or isn’t it a Tide Ad? The #1 selling detergent brand in the US aired a series of four ads starring Stranger Things actor, David Harbour, during the Super Bowl, which all initially appeared to be different types of commercials. There were even cameos by Mr. Clean and Isaiah Mustafa from the Old Spice commercials, both brands being subsidiaries of Procter and Gamble.

The strategy of the ad series was to make viewers second guess whether or not every commercial that aired during the game was, in fact, a Tide ad, since almost every ad features actors in clean clothes. Their plan was successful, and if you found yourself questioning whether or not each commercial you saw was a Tide ad, you’re not the only one.

Disney Ad:

This ad wasn’t technically aired during the Super Bowl, but instead, on the Today Show the morning after. The amazing feat that earned this ad a spot under our “Creative Techniques” category, is that Disney World compiled game footage from the night before, as well as postgame clips of winning Eagles quarterback Nick Foles answering the classic question, “What are you going to do next?” with “I’m going to Disney World!” In mere hours, they were able to produce and air a full commercial.

Chances are, you’ve heard this catchphrase before, as The Walt Disney Company has used this slogan in a series of television commercials since 1987.

Kraft #FamilyGreatly:

Kraft was able to crowdsource an entire commercial in just a matter of hours, which aired during the Big Game. A teaser ad about the Family Greatly campaign aired a week before which featured “real families” and the hashtag, which cleverly turns a noun into a verb. This campaign focuses on parent concerns about not being perfect when it comes to raising their children. It is also an effort for the brand to distinguish Kraft from the Heinz brand as well as connect the brand with the modern definition of family. The hashtag received over 20,000 submissions for Kraft to choose from on Instagram alone.


Diet Coke Mango:

Unfortunately, this was one of those ads we just did not understand. It was actually described as “cringeworthy,” and “like watching a slow motion trainwreck” by our team.

This ad was never supposed to be a full commercial, but instead, just a 6 second social teaser featuring Australian actress, Hayley Magnus. Director Paul Feig of Bridesmaids and Freaks and Geeks thought it was funny enough to be a Super Bowl commercial and Diet Coke decided to air all 30 seconds of it.

Overall the experience was uncomfortable.

The Bud Knight:

After promising teaser ads featuring the catchphrase, “Dilly Dilly,” which began in December, this ad was a bit of a disappointment for us all. The campaign started out positive, netting roughly 1.1 million Google searches of “Dilly Dilly” per month, according to Bud Light, and the brand has earned more mentions on social media in the past four months than in the previous nine months. However, these positive insights have not affected sales, and Bud Light actually saw a 5.7% drop in shipment volume last year.

Squarespace Starring Keanu Reeves:

Another uninspiring disappointment, which initially had a lot of potential. The spoken words in the commercial are Will Powers’ 1983 track “Adventures in Success,” but the commercial itself was not successful in making us want to check out Squarespace. The most inspiring part of the commercial, which is not outrightly communicated, is the fact that Reeves has been a Squarespace customer since 2015 and uses the platform to design a site for his custom motorcycle brand, Arch Motorcycle. He also did his own stunts.

Honorable Mention:

Alexa Loses Her Voice:

A favorite for our team and this year’s USA Today Ad Meter winner, this commercial series featured celebrities like Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, Cardi B, as well as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Thankfully, Alexa turns out to be fine in the end (and she’ll even tell you that if you ask her).

Australia Tourism/Crocodile Dundee:

Similar to the Tide Ad, this ad started as a movie trailer, and eventually became self aware as an Australia tourism ad. This ad cost $36 million to produce, so they should go ahead and make a whole film of it. This campaign was successful from an engagement perspective, as Tourism Australia was the brand with the most Super Bowl ad related digital content engagement globally, according to Amobee.

Doritos Blaze/Mountain Dew Ice:

Our last honorable mention features Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rapping to Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll want to further research the conspiracy theories which site this ad as proof that Tyrion Lannister is, in fact, of House Targaryen.


NFL Dirty Dancing:

Eli Manning and Odell Beckham perform the classic Dirty Dancing lift in this NFL ad, which was unexpected and comical. The only downside to this ad is that it promotes endzone celebrations, while in 2016 alone, the NFL fined its own players over $300,000 combined over different celebrations.

This year’s Super Bowl ads brought NBC about $414 million, which is down about $5 million from last year. That’s about the cost of a single Super Bowl ad. The top trending questions on Google during the game were "Where was Prince from?," "How old is Steven Tyler?," "What is the Super Bowl score?," "Is Justin Timberlake married?," and "How old is Justin Timberlake?"

Did this year’s commercials meet or exceed your expectations? If there are any ads that we did not cover that you enjoyed, let us know with a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

If you have any topics you would like us to cover in future episodes of Illumine8 After Hours,contact us.

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