Our blogWell said:
Insights in health & wellness branding
8 February

Picking This Year’s “Hypothetically Most Effective” Super Bowl Commercials

We’ve all heard it many times. Advertising awards are great, but if great creative does nothing to move market share or change thinking or behavior toward a brand, it becomes meaningless beyond reinforcing an agency’s creative reputation.

More and more agencies are employing real-time analytical engines to verify the effectiveness of campaigns and ideas, changing the definition of what constitutes “great creative.” Several years ago, before the onslaught of analytics, a procurement officer (yes, procurement) told me, “I like agencies that produce ideas that wear their strategy on their sleeve.” In essence, she was saying, I’m looking for agencies where a marketing team can “see” the strategic intent as the creative is being presented, because in my experience, those types of ideas turn out to be more effective than those where the strategic intent is harder to see.

That statement pointed out that great creative can only be great if it is effective. But since campaigns are measured post introduction into the marketplace, assessing effectiveness while the work is being created remains a major challenge.

Specifically, how do you evaluate creative work as being effective or having the best potential to be effective (outside of research) when the work is being developed?

I was pondering this question when I found a Dispatches article by Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney, who posit a way to hypothetically evaluate the effectiveness of the Super Bowl commercials. It’s very interesting. Not only as a way of evaluating Big Game commercials beyond likeability or humor, but also as a potential way for agencies to evaluate their own creative while it’s being produced and reviewed. Determining which ideas are most likely to be effective helps determine which ideas should be shared with clients.

So I’m putting this methodology to the test in viewing this year’s Super Bowl commercials, while also making it an agency contest, like a one-man Super Bowl pool, by selecting my choices for the most effective commercial per quarter and best of game–hypothetically.

Below are the results of my analysis. Hopefully, you “hypothetically” had the same ones on your pool spreadsheet

First Quarter

Chipotle: Can A Burrito Change the World
• Effective-Very Effective

Communication Strategy
My guess is that Chipotle was employing a strategy of targeting parents with children who are concerned about taking them to regular fast food chains too many times. So I’m assuming their hypothetical communication strategy was feed your kids good food while doing something good for the environment (sustainability).

Communication Behavior Objective
Get parents (and children) to choose Chipotle over other fast food chain options.

Campaign Idea
Siblings argue over the idea of how eating a burrito can change the world

Execution
The execution brings down the overall score because while it utilizes beautifully directed intercutting scenes of local farmers, seed planting, crops, irrigation, with the brother and sister arguing in the kitchen while eating their Chipotle burritos, it’s not unique.

Second Quarter

Inuit TurboTax: The Tax Experts are Coming
• Very Effective

Communication Strategy
The coronavirus has affected everything, including how we do taxes. Stimulus checks, working from home in a different state from your employer/business, and other changes in the world have many implications in not just how we get our taxes figured out but where. So it’s easy for me to picture TurboTax coming up with a communication strategy along the lines of: Only TurboTax brings unmatched local tax knowledge and expertise directly to your locale.

Communication Behavior Objective
Select TurboTax as your local tax advisor

Campaign Idea
By communicating TurboTax’s knowledge of a variety of tax information across different scenarios in different states, the company can demonstrate how it brings that expert advise to you live, online.

Execution
TurboTax breaks through the clutter using humor and distinctive visuals, showing an advisor as an individual on a computer screen on a desk, rolling through a sampling of states with very specific information that can affect tax claims in those same states, concluding with an army of computer screens on desks coming to your neighborhood.

Third Quarter

Redditt: 5 Second Commercial
• Effective to Very Effective

Communication Strategy
Redditt, known for its passionate user base, wants to capitalize on its anti-establishment success from their subreddit groups behind the GameStop stock squeeze but communicating that good things can come from disruptive social groups and initiatives.

Communication Behavior Objective
Get both those who are familiar and not familiar with Redditt to their site to invest more time and energy to participate in Redditt.

Campaign Idea
The medium is the message. Disrupt the established, high-priced Superbowl commercial medium of :30 spots with a :05 ad, where individuals have to rewind, pause and read a “social post” from Redditt.

Execution
A :05 ad may seem like a stunt to get some free media buzz, but not one that would be very effective. However, in addition to aligning itself with Redditt’s unique audience, I saw this household rewind to read the message. If that would have been all that was accomplished, then I wouldn’t have considered it effective. But in addition to the rewind and reread, I also witnessed in my own home (and subsequently discovered through follow-up conversations with others) that individuals were jumping on Redditt’s site to read and learn more. In that way, it would seem that the commercial not only gained Redditt awareness, but also made individuals take the next behavioral step of going to their site.

Fourth Quarter and Best of Game

Anheuser-Busch: Let’s Grab a Beer
• Very Effective

Communication Strategy
I started this article about “seeing ideas that wear their strategy on their sleeve” and being able to guess their effectiveness. In Anheuser-Busch’s corporate spot, it’s stated right there on its “sleeve” right before the logos come up, “that simple human truth, we need each other.” In a year where almost everyone lives in isolation, or at least in very socially distant ones, the desire to belong, laugh, consult and bond makes us ache for those days where a simple activity like “grabbing a beer” and all that can imply returns to us all. My hypothetical communication strategy, that beer has the ability of connecting us, when we can connect again.

Communication Behavior Objective
Build loyalty to Anheuser-Busch by reminding audiences that their beer plays an important role in social connectivity.

Campaign Idea
Define what it really means to “grab a beer.”

Execution
A series of short, emotionally authentic story vignettes connecting individuals around Anheuser-Busch beer products, with interspersed narration about how it’s a simple activity that brings us together because we need each other. Now more than ever.

Stephen Neale About the Author

After 25 years and more than 75 creative awards in healthcare advertising, including 4 Rx Club Golds and 3 Med Ad News Ads of the Year, Stephen is highly respected throughout the health and wellness advertising community. As strategist and leader, he’s even more respected throughout the agency.