The coveted 18-35 demographic is the target for most of the Super Bowl ads out there, so at The Drum we thought it would be a good idea to hear from the younger end of that demo to critique this year's crop of Super Bowl ads.
Students in the University of Oregon's ad program sat down to watch the game, and more specifically, the ads that brands paid over $5m per spot to run. Each of the 10 students picked one spot to critique, giving their opinions on what worked, what didn't and why.
Toyota, 'Good Odds'
Billy Manggala, senior, copywriting, said that the game's first spot by Toyota was inspiring, giving it four out of five stars. In 'Good Odds' a girl is born without legs or a left hand and statistics flash about how the odds are stacked against her winning a gold medal. As she moves through life, her odds become greater as she works hard as a skier and eventually wins gold.
"It was well shot, the snow felt like it was coming right at me. It's really cool to see somebody overcome so many things. I'm not sure what it had to do with Toyota," he said. "They relied entirely on an emotional factor to get the message across. We weren't sure it was a Toyota commercial until the very end. I think it put Toyota in a good light because it shows Toyota cares about paralympians and cares about making prosthetics for people without limbs."
Toyota: Good Odds and Mobility Anthem by Saatchi & Saatchi and DentsuAdded 02 February 2018
Kyle Heiner, senior, copywriting, gives the first quarter ad by Pringles with Bill Hader a solid three stars. In it, Pringles showcases its diverse flavor line by having two members of the crew of a fictional Bill Hader movie stacking the different chips and exclaiming "wow" at the even more exciting flavors they create. The camera cuts quickly between the three men as they say "wow" in even funnier ways, until an extra joins in and is told to quiet down.
Heiner thinks the commercial could have been just as strong in a home setting. "The commercial would work the same if everyone was sitting at home. However, the humor of the 'wow' is potent... it's reminiscent of Owen Wilson and the viral Vine, and can quickly become quotable. It does help show their flavor potentials and hits the important fun shape of their chip, however, I feel the commercial will get lost in the crowd as it is just a little too safe. The ad helped bring Pringles back to the mind of Americans, especially who for a game like this when people are probably sharing more party size bags, such as Lays or Doritos."
Ben Knauer, senior, copywriting, thought Sprint's attempt at using artificial intelligence (AI) missed the mark.
In the 'Evelyn' spot, an engineer's AI creation accelerates its learning rapidly, and a crew of AI bots end up making fun of the man who built them, questioning him why he uses Verizon instead of Sprint and laughing at him.
"The fear of missing out was the focal point of the ad. While that strategy is useful for experiences, phone services are all very similar and the strategy was not effective. The ad highlighted the power AI has over people. The man in the ad switched to Sprint from Verizon because of the influence if the AI. People are becoming so reliant and even addicted to their phones. Showing how technology has influence over human purchasing power without any human resistance or questioning does not reflect well on the brand," he said.
Avocados from Mexico, 'GuacWorld'
Topacio Beerhalter, senior, copywriting, thought the second quarter ad for Avocados from Mexico catered too much to millennials.
We see a group of people in the desert under a clear, utopian dome. The leader states that all the bad has been sealed out and they have everything they’ve always wanted in an idyllic paradise, including Chris Elliott signing autographs, for some reason. But the ideal society unravels once they see the chips are left outside.
"I think the concept was interesting, however, I could tell they were targeting millennials by focusing on avocado toast and wifi. It was funny but if anything it was forgettable. The ad was funny but didn't connect with me long enough to leave a lasting idea because they did the obvious way of portraying the mindset of millennials that was slightly skewed," said Beerhalter.
Tide, 'It's Another Tide Ad'
Travis Kim, senior, copywriter loved the effectiveness of the second quarter Tide ad, giving it four of five stars.
"The Super Bowl Tide TV-spot exploits the fact that many commercials tend to fit into categories that are excruciatingly predictable and unoriginal. David Harbour, the Stranger Things actor, takes us through these different scenes including a luxury car ad, a beer ad, and even a smart-home assistant advertisement. Throughout the spot, Harbour exclaims that this is a Tide Ad because of the clean clothes that are worn throughout," said Kim.
"The concept was incredibly successful. I immediately was able to identify the kinds of commercials that Tide was mocking, even able to name brands such as Lincoln for the luxury car ad, because of how well-executed the concept was. It also came with a bit of a shock factor, as our entire watch-party erupted upon realizing that this was, in fact, a Tide commercial. It was quick, witty, and self-aware."
Pepsi, 'Pepsi Generations'
Brandon Reichelt, junior, production, thought Pepsi played it too safe with an ad that brought back Cindy Crawford, her son Presley, plus Michael Jackson, Jeff Gordon and other stars for a generation-spanning ad that displayed that Pepsi is meant for everyone.
"Coming off their disastrous campaign with the protests and Kendall Jenner not too long ago, it was going to be interesting to see how Pepsi responded and if they could get public opinion on their side again. The fact is, the concept was there but the execution wasn't. I can see where they thought that if Pepsi was meant for nobody, there could be no misconstrued message or piggy-backing on a social issue. It was meant to be more entertaining than emotional, but no emotion was produced from the commercial. It was bland," said Reichelt, who gave the ad three stars.
Kia, 'Feel Something Again'
Bailey Jiminez, junior, strategy, thought the third quarter ad where Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler reversed a Kia Stinger around a track and went back in time was just mediocre.
"I don’t think it was really that amazing of an ad. If you are an Aerosmith fan you would probably get a little pumped to see Steven Tyler but I think it was nothing extraordinary. It was okay but not Super Bowl quality," said Jiminez.
Kraft, 'Family Greatly'
Terrence Lewis, senior, strategy, thought the family concept of the Kraft ad played it safe and was too simple for the Super Bowl, giving it three stars.
Before the game Kraft used an audience-focused idea, asking for people to send pictures showing "how you family." It was meant to drive home that fact that families are great because there are so many ways of being one and get viewers involved so that they might see their picture in a Super Bowl ad. The resulting ad was a collage of images, with a voice over that stated that all the images received were great because of their family focus.
"The concept was too simple and had relatively no difference from other family food products," said Lewis. "The most compelling idea was too emotion-centered and did not address the product benefit in a compelling way. People already know that all families are different. Kraft had an opportunity to do more with that."
Groupon, 'Who Wouldn't'
Zoë Haakenstad, junior, found this ad starring Tiffany Haddish simple and effective, and educated people about the brand, even if the ad relied heavily on Haddish's brash personality.
The ad drives home that Groupon supports local businesses, with Haddish posing the question, “Who wouldn’t want to support a local business?” The scene cuts to a rich guy coming out of his mansion, saying he doesn’t support local businesses. He then is hit in the gut after a football player kicks a football at him.
"I think it was simple and effective, but it also heavily relied on the personality of Haddish. The ad played on Tiffany’s 'sassy black woman' demeanor, and although for many it might produce laughter, the trope is still overly misused and problematic in media. However, the concept was easy to follow and meant to be lighthearted and humorous. Both Tiffany’s personality (particularly her laugh at the end) and the rich guy getting hit in the gut by the football were utilized to evoke laughter."
Groupon: Who Wouldn't by O'Keefe & Reinhard & PaulAdded 25 January 2018
T-Mobile, 'Little Ones'
Sydnie Johnson, senior, copywriting, strategy, thought this T-Mobile ad was a great one to spark social change, giving the spot a five star rating.
The commercial made children the main focus, panning over them with a message at the end saying "Change starts now. Are you with us?" Johnson thinks it's something America needs to hear. "We are all equal, and it's time we start treating each other that way.
"Making children the main focus of this ad was a great way to get their message across. We are born completely innocent and without any bias, we learn the stereotypes imbedded in society as we grow up. There were babies of every ethnicity shown and they addressed social issues that affect everyone in America. They acknowledge the difficulty of our current social climate while still keeping the tone hopeful and focused on the future."
Amazon, 'Alexa Loses Her Voice'
Stacy Yurishcheva, senior, design, said this celebrity-laden Amazon ad (with a Jeff Bezos cameo) was as funny as a Saturday Night Live sketch and worked well for the brand, especially watching as stars like Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson and Sir Anthony Hopkins take over after Alexa loses her voice.
"I think the concept definitely worked, as the ad was funny, witty and memorable. Each of the celebrities brought in their own flavor, from Gordon Ramsey's aggressive shouting, to Cardi B' rapping Bodak Yellow after being requested country music, to Rebel Wilson's hilarious and slightly inappropriate jokes. I thought the idea of Alexa suddenly losing her voice was great and original. I think they did a great job of playing around the idea of Alexa breaking all of a sudden, especially with Amazon being a tech company. Them solving it quickly and creatively is to reflect the quality of Amazon's service. The funny and light-hearted attitude definitely puts Amazon in a good light," said Yurishcheva.
To see more of The Drum's Super Bowl coverage click here.