The Super Bowl … But With Purpose

Okay, so the 2019 Super Bowl wasn’t exactly a Super Smash. In fact, it Super Sucked. When it came to this year’s biggest day in advertising, though, we did get to learn a lot of interesting things: Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude are switching from their signature drinks to Stella Artois; Cardi B thinks that Pepsi is more than OK, it’s “Okrrrr”; Luke Wilson is a close talker but it’s okay, because Colgate.

Most interestingly to us, though, was the reality that brands spent over $5 million each to get just one advertisement into the Super Bowl, for a chance to provide audiences with 30 seconds of laughter – all of which will likely be forgotten by the end of the week.

Given the current political climate in the United States, it’s not surprising that the majority of ads run during America’s biggest game played it safe. Sticking your neck out and taking a stand for something takes bravery, and many brands still worry (falsely) that a values statement might run the risk of a boycott from middle America. However, there were a few companies that picked up on the increasing demand from consumers for brands that align to their values and used yesterday’s game to celebrate their purpose, and we think we’ll be talking about them far beyond yesterday’s game.

Coca-Cola was the first out of the gate, with a spot about diversity and inclusion that ran prior to the game. While the ad steered clear of overtly political messaging, we couldn’t help but notice the fact that Coke moved their ad out of the regular in-game line up and decided to specifically place it prior to the singing of the national anthem. Was that a subtle nod to the protests and boycotts that have plagued this year’s game? That’s for you to decide.

Budweiser’s ad was quite literally blowin’ in the wind, with a sustainability commitment to ensuring that all their beers would now be brewed with 100% renewable electricity from wind power. Using the power of a pup’s ears blowing free in the breeze, the spot didn’t debate climate change or talk about science, but simply stated that the time has come to help build a better tomorrow. With over 17 million views thus far, their purpose has already paid off.

Hulu surprised us all by teaming up with the infamous Instagram Egg account, which recently dethroned Kylie Jenner for the most liked photo on the platform. Initially teasing audiences with posts on the infamous account promising a big reveal after game day, their mental-health in the digital age focused spot – broadcast after the game itself, hidden behind a pay wall – was likely one of the most successful and interesting parts of the evening. After a lacklustre game and mildly entertaining halftime show, all of the online attention after the game shifted to talk of the #EggGang, what was behind the pay wall, and their affiliation with Mental Health America. Whatever that partnership cost them (some estimated the reveal could have been worth as much as 10 million for brands), the amount of people talking about the brand and their commitment to mental health matters was no yolk.

Lastly, Kia decided to use the power of silence to great effect this year, opting to use the budget they normally reserve for celebrity endorsements and big game commercials, to launch The Great Unknowns Scholarship. The program promises to “help young people in need get a foothold in higher education”, and ends with Kia asking us all, “What If, this year, all these ads were in some way about the rest of us?”

What if these ads were about something more than just a cheap laugh?

That’s the question we’ve been asking all along.

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