Big Game Ads: Some Were Super, Others “Meh” [VIDEO]

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Tide rolls with humor, Ram’s MLK spot backfires.

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Companies spend millions of dollars to buy commercial time during the Super Bowl every year. How do they know if it pays off? 

WDET’s Pat Batcheller asked Cathy Cuckovich, a teaching fellow at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, for some insight into what works—and what doesn’t—when it comes to advertising during the NFL’s championship game.

What metrics do companies use to know if their spots work?

There are several. USA Today’s Ad Meter is one of them where consumers rate their favorite ads. Companies now are also using social media metrics. As you know, most of the companies release their ads before the game, and this helps to drive online traffic and engagement.”

What goes into a successful Super Bowl ad?

A successful Super Bowl ad is designed to make an emotional connection with consumers. We saw that this year with humor and social awareness messages, humor being the most frequently used emotional connection.”

Which spots did you think were the best, and why?

I really like Amazon’s ‘Alexa lost her voice’. It was funny. And I thought Tide did a fantastic job with the parody of Super Bowl spots. And not just the parody, but the way they were able to integrate throughout the show. They were constantly able to repeat their message in a humorous and unexpected way.”

Which ads “fumbled the ball”?

I was really confused by Ram. They ran a Viking spot, and then they ran the Martin Luther King ‘Born to Serve’. Aside from the social criticism that Ram is receiving—several people felt they co-opted King’s message—from an advertising and marketing standpoint, you want to build a consistent image for your brand. You want to run one campaign at a time. [Fiat Chrysler, which owns Jeep and Ram] ran two different campaigns in the same show, which I don’t think was effective.”

When the public hates a specific ad, how much can that hurt the advertiser?

There’s a saying that ‘there’s no such thing as negative publicity, but in today’s arena of social media, I think that’s evaporating. I think Fiat Chrysler and Ram are going to have some explaining to do.”

Click on the audio player to hear the conversation.

MORE from NPR: Super Bowl Ads 2018: The Best, The Weirdest, And The Most Complicated 

Pat Batcheller, Senior News Editor

Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician. Follow @patbwdet

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