Ahead of Super Bowl 51, The Drum has asked some of the industry’s most influential people to reflect on their favorite Super Bowl ad of all time and discuss why it stands out to them.
We’ve also asked them to give their thoughts on whether they think social media has helped or hurt the effectiveness of the coveted Super Bowl spot. Over the past few years, many brands have chosen to leverage the power of social media by teasing or releasing their Super Bowl spots online days before the game in hopes of garnering additional buzz and maximizing reach – but a good number of brands still prefer to take the traditional route of surprising viewers on game day.
Up until the Super Bowl, we’ll be featuring responses from agency founders, creatives and CEOs. Today we feature Ari Weiss, DDB North America's chief creative officer. Below, find out why FedEx's 1998 "We Apologize" spot is one of his favorite Super Bowl ads.
What is your favorite Super Bowl ad of all time?
There have been too many great Super Bowl commercials to pick a favorite. So I’ll go ahead and pick one of the bravest. In 1998 FedEx ran 30 seconds of color bars with some beautifully simple copy.
Why did you love it? What made it stand out? (Technique? Narrative? Humor?)
The Super Bowl is all about standing out and what braver way to stand out than running a Super Bowl commercial with no production value, no special effects, no celebrities, no puppies, no babies and next to no production budget. Just a beautifully simple idea, simply written, that pays off the brands purpose. It was breakthrough before breakthrough became a catch phrase.
In your opinion, was it ultimately a success for the brand?
I think it was incredibly successful for the brand because the brand’s benefit was so insanely clear. Too often the flash and sizzle of Super Bowl commercials outshine the message. If the brand benefit isn’t at the core of the narrative then you’re just wasting your money.
What do you hope to see from this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads?
In a word: bravery. A lot of Super Bowl commercials start to feel the same. Really looking for the commercial that stands out, takes chances and serves the brand that was brave enough to go for it.
Social media has changed the way brands approach their Super Bowl advertising strategies. Do you think social media has helped or hurt the effectiveness of Super Bowl spots?
Social media is just another media channel. I think we tend to want to champion or poo-poo the latest media channels but they’re only as good or bad as the creatives, com architects or media buyers working with them. Newcastle used social media brilliantly to hack the Super Bowl a few years ago. A great team with a great integrated idea should use all media channels to help further their brand's purpose and narrative.
To read the other interviews in our series, click here.
To find out which brands are advertising in the Super Bowl this year, visit The Drum's dedicated page here.