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Super Bowl

Super Bowl 50: What Ad Club New York marketers are expecting from this year’s game


By Minda Smiley, Reporter

February 2, 2016 | 9 min read

With Super Bowl 50 now upon us, most advertisers in the big game have either unveiled their spots already or have at least rolled out teasers to give viewer a taste of what’s to come.

Ahead of the game, The Drum asked some of Ad Club New York’s members to reflect on what they’ve already seen and what they hope to see during the game this year.

As brands increasingly try to appeal to both millennials and Gen Z, we asked marketers to sound off on how they think advertisers can best appeal to these coveted audiences and how they can continue to generate buzz after the game ends.

See their responses below:

Vito Zarrillo, executive creative director at Gyro New York

Anticipation for the Super Bowl is off the charts as newcomer Cam Newton will square off against first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. For advertisers, it’s a golden opportunity to get in front of millions of consumers’ screens during one of the most-watched events on television. As brands seek to make more noise than ever, the trend of an increasingly younger (i.e. Millennial) and female-tilted audience will be top of mind.

Let’s start with the younger generation. MiniUSA recently launched a spot that is part of its “#defylabels” campaign, which is on-trend for a couple of reasons. First, younger people are on a growing quest for self-identity as they look to define themselves on their own terms. With a generation that is increasingly defined by individuality and uniqueness, brands that highlight this kind of humanly relevant thinking are brands that will resonate the most. From Tony Hawk to Abby Wambach to Serena Williams, brands that tell stories of defying and overcoming labels will truly speak to this generation and ultimately stand out during the big game.

Second, with more women watching the Super Bowl than ever, messages around the empowerment of individuals and, more specifically, women, are going to stick with audiences. Role models for younger women are fantastic and need to become part of the message. Gone are the days of super models and celebrities. Coming from an agency whose lifeblood is about creating humanly relevant ideas, I believe that meaningful messages of empowerment will stick with audiences much longer than superficial ones. And, as a man whose wife is a successful executive in her own right and a major advocate for the empowerment of women in business, I personally love it.

I am also looking forward to seeing what pieces of culture has become borrowed interest for marketers this year.

Andreas Dahlqvist, chief creative officer of Grey New York

I think we'll see less tear jerking stuff and more upbeat, fun entertainment this year. I hope to see some bold moves that really break into pop culture on their own merit - ideas that transcend what you think of as advertising and that makes the rest of the industry envious. I'd like to see more unconventional ways of grabbing attention, i.e. our work last year with Volvo Intersection, which never even appeared on network television, but essentially hijacked the conversation around cars and Super Bowl through social media."

What overarching themes or strategies do you think will be employed this year as marketers increasingly try to appeal to Millennials and Gen Z?

Purpose-driven marketing is not going away, but it's changing. The key trend is that Millennial aspirations are meeting the 'real' world. So while they remain idealistic (wanting to change the world and seek experiences over material goods), the reality of their lives now dictate that this must be lower cost, lower effort and lower impact. They now have families and bills to pay. Time is not entirely theirs. So they can no longer unconditionally follow the dream, or cause, or experience without consequence. That's why purpose and interaction at the heart of marketing will still play a big role, but it now needs to be served up with lower demand on what the level of personal commitment and involvement has to be. The brands that tap their inherent desires but recognize their stage in life will be the ones that win.

Thom Gruhler, CVP apps and services at Microsoft Corporation, and former president of The AD Club of NY Board of Directors

At around $5 million per 30-second spot and over 114 million viewers, this big stage for breakthrough is too irresistible for many marketers to resist. This year promises to be no different. Elite celebrities, comics, movie stars, sports heroes, even Doritos with another run at user generated ads, are vying to be the one that gets the air. The competition for entertainment value in these ads is escalating faster than the actual impact they may or may not have. With so much hype around 'which ad won the Super Bowl,' I am faced with this nagging question that if your ad ends up being ranked in the middle of the pack, did you really get your money's worth? What we do know is that with all the celebs, comics and sizzle in the lineup, we have seen the viewers pulling for a more human story to break through. Last year it was a puppy. Curious to see what gets us this year...

Kirk Olson, vice president of Trendsights, WHY Group at Horizon Media

Have you seen any Super Bowl campaigns that have already launched that you think are particularly good or not good?

There are a few campaigns that really stand out from a cultural trends perspective. The way Intuit is reimagining consumer participation through the lens of small business is really smart. By mashing up the UGC notion of Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” idea with the philanthropy of Chase Community Giving, Intuit is giving its small business owner customers a shot at a marketing pot of gold. Self-reliance and entrepreneurship are timely topics in post-Great Recession America. The election will keep jobs, the economy, and empowering U.S. business on people’s minds. It’s a smart alignment with quintessentially American values and it’s well-timed. In fact, Intuit could extend it beyond the big game by opening up the vault on more of the submissions. Let ordinary people vote in social media for a few more business to receive the $25,000 runner-up rewards. The earned media would be well worth a greater investment in their idea.

Colgate’s cause-centered spot is also on trend. Today’s cause marketing is about simplicity: “Give me something that’s easy to do, related to something I’m doing anyway, that will help make the world better.” That’s why one-for-one programs with brands like Toms and Warby Parker are so popular. It’s so easy to do good. Just buy this instead of that. We call it CAUSE-sumption: cause baked into the primary act of consumption. In Colgate’s, it’s actually about NON-consumption of water while doing one of the most ordinary things every human does. But that simplicity is why it has the potential to engender a lot of good will for the brand.

What Coca-Cola has in the works this year is less inspiring. The “taste the feeling” anthem feels a bit fuzzy and marketer-created compared to the straightforward and concrete messages other brands are putting forward. Snickers is about satisfaction so you can be yourself. Butterfinger is about bold taste. Budweiser is getting back to basics with the craftsmanship behind the product. How exactly are consumers meant to interpret an abstract idea like “taste the feeling?” Togetherness, sharing and experience are all solidly on brand. It just feels a bit expected for Coca-Cola. It’s not clear yet how the brand is going to make it special for the biggest event in advertising. Maybe there will be something akin to “share a Coke with _____” that will blow everyone’s minds. We’ll see.

What overarching themes or strategies do you think will be employed this year as marketers increasingly try to appeal to Millennials/Gen-Z?

Social media is critical for keeping the momentum going with millennials and Generation Z. It’s where they have a voice. It’s where they can most easily participate in the conversation. Finding ways to get them speaking the brand’s message in their own voices is the way to make the messages resonate beyond game day. Butterfingers 'bold’ message is perfect for Generation Z expressions on Instagram, Snapchat, or Vine. Both Snickers and Mini connect well to the “you do you” theme native to social media. Snickers does it in a funny way and Mini in a more earnest way. But the key is it can’t feel too forced. It needs to feel organic to what’s already being discussed.

We can also expect marketers to use mystery in compelling ways. They’re already doing it in the lead up. Taco Bell’s redacted press release, Hyundai’s car-free chase teaser, Skittles Steven Tyler motion gif or Kia’s pic of Christopher Walken with a sock puppet. There’s even a term for this intentional vagueness in social media posts -- “vaguebooking.” In a way, it’s like gamifying advertising, inviting consumers into the story but challenging them to figure out what’s going to happen. And it’s perhaps easier to do in the lead-up and harder to continue afterwards. Brands that can figure out how to do it, though, will benefit from continued brand resonance.

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