When you’re not particularly enamored of either team in the Superbowl, and hockey is more your sport anyway, what’s a gal to do when football’s biggest game of the year is on? DVR it so I could watch just the commercials, of course! (And the Sandy Hook Chorus sing "America the Beautiful" – that was not to be missed).
Though after zipping through the game to catch this year’s ads, I was kind of wishing I’d skipped the whole thing all together – these are some of the most expensive ads to be purchased throughout the year, and for me, there were almost no standouts. Where have all the good marketers gone?
But, since I need to choose *some* good commercials to discuss, here are my top picks for this year – I’ll cover the "really good" today and the "pretty good," the bad and the ugly later in the week.
The Really Good
Out of all of these really good commercials, my favorite would have to be Jeep’s Whole Again commercial – I’d admit to be totally biased here, because I sent my brother-in-law, my cousin, and numerous friends off to war in the army and marines for an eight year period, so this spot especially hit home for me:
It was the first commercial to give me chills and to make me cry, so I’m giving it two thumbs up. Jeep does a nice job of celebrating our heroes, partnering with the USO to showcase a great organization to contribute to if you’re so moved, all while threading their product throughout the spot. I don’t normally associate jeeps with the military, but it’s a smart partnership and something I’d much rather watch than a typical hawking of a product. Plus, who can resist a good Oprah voiceover?
The next commercial to bring tears to my eyes (boy, I was sappy this year!) was the Budweiser Brotherhood commercial. Up until this spot aired, I was again sorely disappointed in the beer commercials, which was true last year as well. Historically, they’re some of the most brilliant spots of the Superbowl, but not so lately. This ad redeemed my faith a little bit:
The Clydesdales are intrinsically linked with Budweiser, so although they do have some product placement in this ad (good), they almost don’t need it, as we all know what they’re selling. Anyone who’s ever raised an animal from a young age would be touched by the idea of losing that animal – in this case, it happens when he sells his horse to Budweiser – and that the horse remembers him and races to see him at the end just tugged at my heart strings. Well done, Budweiser.
Oreo Whisper Fight
Another favorite of mine was the Oreo whisper fight, although, let’s be honest, everyone knows that the cream is the best part so it’s doubtful whether people would really fight over cookie versus cream.
I couldn’t stop chuckling over the intense, yet quiet, fighting – and especially when the police arrived and were whispering over the megaphone. The commercial is smart for a few reasons – one, it’s funny and memorable, and two, it gives you a call to action at the end that makes you want to be part of the conversation around Oreo. I like Oreo’s invitation to use Instagram to choose a "side," which is a social media tool that most consumer companies haven’t gotten their heads around yet. I would have liked to have seen a hashtag suggestion included, but at least they included their username.
If you’ve ever been the nerdy kid in school (ahem), this commercial would really appeal to the underdog in you:
Even as adults, cars still seem to have the power to make you cool or not, so I think we can all identify with the Audi giving this young guy the confidence to claim the prom as his own – and then extrapolate from that that having an Audi would make us each bold and confident. Well done, Audi, well done.
Tide Miracle Stain
The Tide Miracle Stain commercial was a fan favorite, and it was even more excellent because of the game’s outcome (had the Ravens lost, it might have just felt awkward).
Anyone who is a sport fan will appreciate the mystical good luck sign foretelling a certain outcome that the stain indicates, and we all know that one person who would embark on a pilgrimage for something like this – but the commercial is made even better by his wife’s washing of the jersey (Tide gets their point across without being obnoxious) because she’s a Ravens fan. Brilliant.
Old Spice Wolf
I’m a sucker for weird commercials:
I mean weird in a good way though – there were plenty of bad weird commercials that we’ll touch on later in the week. Old Spice does a good job here – the spot would just be strange, if it weren’t that their new product scent includes "wolf" in the name. The subtext is that it makes you as mysterious and brave as a man who wears live wolves as a cape. It skates a little close to the same feeling as "The Most Interesting Man in the World" Dos Equis commercials – but the best marketers copy others’ ideas and make them their own, so I’m digging it.
Lessons for Lawyers
So what are the lessons for lawyers that can be taken from these ads?
- Highlight your charitable partnerships: There’s a fine line here between being icky and being supportive, so it’s important to understand where that is, but especially these days, people want to know about the good you’re doing out in the world – both as lawyers and as a firm – so you can showcase the firm’s charitable work in a way that really promotes the good causes you’re working for.
- What’s your icon? We all know that the Clydesdales represent Budweiser, but what’s iconic for you and your firm? Please don’t say the scales of justice… Figure out what your icon is, and work to intrinsically link it with your brand.
- Incorporate social media: Social media isn’t just for broadcasting – it’s a way to engage with people, and also to help shape the conversations that people are already having about you and your firm. How can you get people thinking and talking about your firm or your practice on social media in a positive way?
- What’s your feeling? Much like my "what’s your icon" point from above, figure out what the feeling surrounding your firm or practice is – are you the "cool" firm? The quirky firm? The all-business all the time firm? The creative solutions firm? We’ve all heard that doing good work is what gets you to the table, so it no longer differentiates you – so is there a characteristic of your firm that’s memorable? Figure out how to share that.
What were your favorite commercials? What lessons did you learn and can you apply to your own marketing?