The Super Bowl is the event with the most expensive ad space in the US market. The companies that vie for and get spots to be aired during this game reap major rewards, as long as the commercials are well done. Many Americans, myself included, view the commercial (as well as the halftime show) the points most worthy of our attention. To change things up a little bit here’s our selection of our five favorite ads from Super Bowl LI:
Audi #DriveProgress- “Daughter”
While the video currently has more down votes on YouTube than up votes, we’re on the side of those who found this 60-second spot to be incredibly inspirational. Even if Audi does not directly sell the car, the spot was used to highlight its Corporate Social Responsibility and efforts to give men and women equal pay for equal work. In many countries, the United States included, this is not the case. The story centers on a girl competing in a race, the only one in the field with her father, as the voiceover, pondering what he would have to tell his daughter about how for simply being a woman she is seen as less valuable than any male. After she wins the race, the copy ends, “Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.” The camera work immerses you into the view of the racer, making you feel as if you’re right on the track with her behind the camera.
Anheuser Busch- “Born the Hard Way”
While Budweiser and Bud Light are today considered as American as apple pie, this spot works to remind the American people, in the face of rhetoric that might be distancing the country from its origins as a nation of immigrants, of how a brand many regard now as American was really an immigration story. Using the fictionalized account of Adolphus Busch making his way from journey from Germany to St. Louis to achieve his dream of brewing beer in 1857, the company sought “”to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream,” said Anheuser-Busch InBev marketing VP Marcel Marcondes in a statement. “This is a story about our heritage and the uncompromising commitment that goes into brewing our beer.””. Busch’s reception into the country could easily be one said today because, as the spot shows, “[u]pon arrival in America, Busch is greeted by an angry mob shouting “You’re not wanted here, go back home.” As the spot ends with his chance encounter with Eberhard Anheuser, the man who would be his business partner, it shows that while trying to hint at the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that has been the historical added value for coming to the United States, it was able to become increasingly relevant in this new era in American history.
A 10 HairCare- “It’s A 10 Hair Care Super Bowl Commercial”
This short and sweet 30″ spot comes from A 10 HairCare, one of the brands debuting on the air this Super Bowl. Using black and white photography highlighting a wide spectrum of hair lengths and styles, its call to action is incredibly simple: “America, we’re in for at least 4 years of awful hair. So it’s up to you to do your part by making up for it with great hair.” It was a perfect, quick jab at Donald Trump without appearing too controversial as A 10 invites everyone and all hair to unite under one product line intended to suit everybody.
Airbnb- “We Accept”
Using closeups of people from all different backgrounds and motion graphics changing the faces and the text, Airbnb created a spot in 3 days that was able to perfectly bring home why it has been in deep opposition to Trump’s executive order. This montage-style video looks like it took weeks and weeks to prepare, making the execution on the part of the Airbnb head of marketing Jonathan Mildenhall in conjunction with founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk even more remarkable.
With copy that stated “[w]e believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept[,]” Airbnb was able to navigate around the limits that plagued other advertisers to bring home the overarching theme of the night, unity.
84Lumber- “The Entire Journey”
In speaking of censured ads, 84Lumber‘s original version its spot was initially rejected by the NFL. Why, you may ask? It has to do with the end of this brand film, in which a Spanish-speaking mother and daughter, after making a harrowing journey through Mexico, have made it to the border with the United States. When initially frightened at the sight of the wall, the camera cuts to them discovering a door to this wall that lets them past. This was the point of contention which had the original version banned as it was seen to be a direct critique of the planned wall at the US/Mexico border. To get around the censors, part of this nearly six minute branded film was shown and users were led to Journey84, a website where the full version (with the original end) were to be highlighted. The website was so overwhelmed with traffic that night it crashed, but fortunately for us, it’s available straight on YouTube. The creative director at Brunner, Robert Schapiro who led the ad’s creative team, said that in spite of what the ban insinuated, “[n]o, the ad isn’t about the wall, it’s about opportunity.”
Why these five?
At the end of the day, the common root behind all these commercials was effective storytelling, which we just lauded as the most effective way to engage. Even if these commercials have a deeper message behind them than some of the more lighthearted offerings from Tide, Kia, Nintendo, or even the trailer for season two of Stranger Things, these videos are perfect primers for where effective storytelling can take you, and even stand out from the rest of the crowd on the biggest advertising night of the year.