Reflecting On Tremendous Bowl 56’s Promoting Touchdowns & Fumbles


With 36+ million US households — greater than 1 in 4 US houses — tuning into the Tremendous Bowl, manufacturers that may afford to spend round $6.5 million for the common 30-second spot take pleasure in an unprecedented alternative to speak instantly with a large swath of shoppers.

Additionally they face unprecedented scrutiny and expectations, figuring out full properly that many media shops will totally and sometimes brutally assessment their adverts. At the very least those who weren’t already previewed within the week previous to the Tremendous Bowl ( a pattern that diminishes the joy of showing the Tremendous Bowl commercials.)

As I do annually, I come to my opinions each as a longtime former international advert man and a longtime purpose-led model advisor. So, my opinions embody each conventional promoting in addition to the brand new period of purposeful storytelling I name, Lead With We.

This entails a radical reimagining and reengineering of enterprise — and the promoting that makes it attainable — primarily based on the thought of collectivized function, displaying how we dwell, work, and develop collectively in new ways in which restore and defend the social and residing programs on which all our futures rely.

As such, Lead With We commercials deal with an organization’s elementary function (why it exists, relatively than what it does or makes alone), and its position and influence on actual folks in the actual world. It’s storytelling greater than promoting, and movement-making greater than advertising.

As wider context, for the primary time in human historical past now we have collectively created a confluence of crises — environmental, financial, and sociopolitical — that threaten our personal survival. And throughout the latest pandemic, all of us realized firsthand that when these of us in influential positions, e.g., enterprise leaders and shoppers, exert a large, shared effort, there’s little we are able to’t obtain. We should now lengthen the pressing and obligatory response we undertook within the face of Covid-19, to resolve our different, equally crucial challenges, beginning with the local weather emergency and financial inequality.

At the moment’s firms greater than ever ought to benefit from the chance and rising demand on the patron’s half that their favourite manufacturers talk with them instantly in regards to the issues they care about most. That’s what I’m on the lookout for in a blockbuster advert.

On that entrance, the Tremendous Bowl commercials this 12 months contrasted latest years that featured extra purpose-led adverts. As such, most manufacturers did not leverage a big international platform at a vital inflection level in human historical past.

I’d go as far as to argue it’s not only a missed alternative, however negligent for firms and types to not talk their influence, problem-solving, and targets and aspirations. Failing to showcase enterprise normally as a robust and obligatory pressure for good.

However many firms did perceive just a few elementary new guidelines:

  • Manufacturers ought to share the optimistic influence they’re co-creating with their prospects to encourage them to purchase their product and construct their enterprise with them.
  • Manufacturers should place themselves because the celebrant, relatively than celeb, of their communities to make sure they don’t appear self-serving, and viewers have interaction with and share their commercials.
  • Manufacturers ought to place their efforts as half of a bigger motion to resolve urgent issues or wants most related to client’s lives.

Celeb will not be a silver bullet and over-production can result in dense and complicated storytelling. For these causes and the brand new guidelines outlined above, listed below are commercials that stood out within the combine:


The worldwide model has succeeded earlier than in showcasing athletes overcoming hardship, though it’s additionally confronted criticism for that includes disabled folks triumphing over adversity. This 12 months’s 60-second advert was a easy, compelling, well-told story of brothers Brian and Robin McKeever, who teamed as much as prepare Robin to win 10 paralympic snowboarding medals after he contracted a degenerative eye situation. It’s a human — not a brand-centric story, doubtless unknown to most viewers. Coronary heart-wrenching when it comes to the battle the brothers endured to succeed in their aim of Olympic gold — and seen partially by way of Robin’s (disconcertingly blurry) POV. It’s a robust demonstration of a real story conveyed in emotional however not saccharine phrases that better of all aligned totally with a core function of Toyota, to tackle difficult targets, goal excessive, and work and obtain collectively.


The ladies-focused medical tech firm leveraged hip hop icon Mary J. Blige to advertise the significance of breast most cancers screening (maybe particularly to ladies of colour, who usually tend to miss common screenings). Sure, Blige is a celeb’s celeb — however the 60-second advert depicts her as busy, pressured, and anxious about her breast most cancers standing. It’s an necessary demonstration of how a model can make the most of a celeb’s platform to scale its attain in service of a robust preventative message. The advert has almost no dialog however ends with Blige telling her physician, “See you subsequent 12 months,” driving dwelling a easy however essential message in regards to the consistency of testing.


The 60-second advert featured a vibrant, bouncing QR code, which when scanned, directed viewers to the web app, providing $15 in Bitcoin to those that register for an account inside 48 hours. The everyday Tremendous Bowl advert tends to be narrative- and character-driven, celebrity-centric, advanced, and condensed into a brief time frame (thirty or sixty seconds). Coinbase’s QR code was as a substitute massively disruptive not just for its simplicity however its interactivity. It was highly effective as a result of it demonstrated dwell — with the viewer within the driver’s seat — the convenience with which any individual can purchase cryptocurrencies, basically shifting pondering, motion, and tradition multi function fell swoop. Actually, the advert was so profitable that the Coinbase app crashed for about an hour from overuse. In brief, Coinbase leveraged the large Tremendous Bowl platform to democratize the attain and use of digital currencies, cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain extra broadly — in a single minute that may someday appear as pivotal as some early Apple spots.


The US cloud-based software program firm Salesforce used a extra conventional 60-second spot to speak a robust message that transcended customary promoting. It employed a recognizable character, Matthew McConaughey, to thumb its nostril at different billionaires and their firms and industries which have garnered much-earned media of late owing to their aspirations of an extraplanetary future for humanity. The advert offers a well timed and artistic reinforcement of an necessary and widely-shared philosophy: “Some of us as of late are fascinated with the metaverse and Mars. However right here on #TeamEarth, now we have our gaze mounted a bit of nearer to dwelling. We imagine that enterprise is the best platform for change, and success ought to be for everybody on Earth and the planet itself. Due to the brand new frontier? It’s proper right here.” So, Salesforce is arguing that we ought to guard the endangered Earth earlier than we go hovering off to populate — and possibly pollute — one other dwelling. The hashtag #TeamEarth is a self-evident device that may unlock a lot alternative throughout different media channels, with a number of types of associated content material, aimed toward completely different audiences world wide to have a good time the restoration and regeneration of the planet. This is a vital and constant message when you think about the general public and vocal position that CEO Mark Benioff has been taking part in for some years, most notably at Davos, whereby 2020 he declared that capitalism, as we all know it, is useless.


Google’s Pixel 6 digicam business that includes musician Lizzo was compelling not solely as a result of it sufficiently demonstrated the “Actual Tone” characteristic that its new digicam software program offers, however as a result of it additionally exhibits how significant such a characteristic is in actual lives of these with pores and skin tones aside from white. “The model’s 60-second spot opens with a collection of poorly shot pictures of individuals of colour, their faces obscured or shaded as numerous narrators specific how cameras by no means appear to seize them correctly,” Adweek writes. I’m impressed by this advert (and product) for 2 important causes: Most likely each particular person of colour understands this as an actual drawback. But in addition, doubtless 99 p.c of all White folks don’t even know this drawback exists. Google offers each teams a significant product that may absolutely play a robust position in all lives by honoring and enhancing the recollections that imply probably the most to all of us.


GM’s 60-second “EVerybody In Now” spot, reprises the villainous forged of the “Austin Powers” franchise to advertise its electrical car (EV) line. Having infiltrated GM’s Detroit headquarters, Dr. Evil schemes to take over the world, however his henchpeople persuade him to as a substitute first take care of the local weather emergency — “arguably the №1 menace to the world now.” Dr. Evil will do it — albeit solely to reclaim the highest spot. The business leverages the huge and common cultural enchantment of “Austin Powers” to make sure GM’s message — “Everyone In! We’re going all electrical!” — will seize folks’s consideration and hold them engaged, all of the whereas engendering affection, loyalty, and curiosity for the model. It jogs my memory of the early Mac v. PC commercials of the mid-aughts, the place Mac man was the plain cool one.


It was additionally heartening to see the Unilever model proceed to sort out meals waste (“Make Style, Not Waste”) by leveraging NFL coach, a former linebacker, and conveniently named Jerod Mayo. “If you happen to’re pondering of throwing away meals — bear in mind, there’s all the time Mayo!” Mayo actually knocks some sense into us — by way of SNL star Pete Davidson — when it comes to how we are able to waste much less meals. What’s so highly effective about this business is that it exhibits the rising position manufacturers are taking part in not simply in making higher merchandise (doing much less dangerous and extra good), however in nondidactically educating shoppers about new attitudes and behaviors. Such manufacturers, I prefer to say, are “strolling the discuss,” and Unilever’s going out of its method over the previous few years to rid itself of all non-purposeful manufacturers.


The lately troubled Korean carmaker presents an exciting trendy story of a “boy and his [robot] canine” to focus on its all-electric Kia EV6. It’s a really efficient demonstration of how properly a easy, participating, charming, and emotional narrative story can convey a purpose-based message (“Motion that conjures up”). It helps to have an interesting everyman and cute “canine” as protagonists — and a well-choreographed Hollywood chase dimension.

The Halftime Present

Seen by 29 million folks, the star-studded halftime present — maybe particularly now the NFL is starting to confront its inside racism — was a “business” in and of itself, for the range the league is missing on the high. Eminem’s taking a knee in solidary with Colin Kaepernick despatched a particular message in regards to the reckoning the NFL is about to bear.

Extrapolating from this listing, three tentpole methods that inform these profitable Tremendous Bowl adverts — and that are notably absent within the “fumbles” — are as follows:

  1. Manufacturers must place their services or products as social proof of the foundational function of the corporate.
  2. Model loyalty is constructed when all stakeholders are given a significant position to play in a motion bigger than themselves.
  3. Manufacturers that self-disrupt and place themselves as options to a challenged future will profit from recent relevance to younger demographics, rising market forces that reward optimistic influence, and a rising variety of stakeholders that wish to put money into, work for and purchase from firms which can be doing good.

Do you agree? And right here’s to extra manufacturers and commercials that Lead With We in subsequent 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl.

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