Jeremy Schwartz, Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer at Truth Collective gives his predictions about upcoming Super Bowl ads
Super Bowl LII is days away, and up until this week, I thought the industry was finally fatigued from the past few years of social hype ahead of the game. I was quickly proven wrong. Now that marketers have opened the floodgates and full-length spots are coming out at an almost hourly pace, one thing is clear: emotion will take centre stage.
But I’m not just talking about the emotion behind the 60 minutes of play that could lead to Brady’s sixth Super Bowl ring (can you tell I was raised in Boston?). Each year we see brands leverage entertainment through humour and physical comedy — or even unforgettable oddities (think Mtn Dew’s “Puppymonkeybaby”) and provocative, heart-string-pulling pleas laden with more serious overtones -- and this year will be no different.
Celebrities will be an easy executional device brands utilise to amp up narratives with the intent of making them stand out in this saturated, hyped media environment. PepsiCo enlisted Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage in its 60-second spot to promote two new lines for Doritos and Mountain Dew, through a lip sync battle -- likely a reference to the now viral idea behind Jimmy Fallon’s old segment that now airs on network TV every week and picks up millions of shares online.
And while celebrities will be popping up in spots all game long (Amazon’s star-studded spot features Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson, Anthony Hopkins and even Jeff Bezos himself), some brands have taken to capturing the stories of real life people to tell an emotional tale. This year, the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales won’t make it to the brand’s TV spot -- although there is a new online spot dedicated to the horses -- as the brand chose to feature employees who helped deliver drinking water to cities impacted by natural disasters. Set to the tune of ‘Stand By Me’ by Skylar Grey (when people download Skylar Grey’s song, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross), it’s sure to pull at least a few heartstrings this Sunday.
Like the Budweiser spot, and a similar one starring Matt Damon from sister brand Stella Artois as it seeks to highlight an ongoing partnership with Water.org, brands will look to stick to messages centred by purpose. Consumers are increasingly looking at campaigns and asking, “Does someone who looks like me -- who knows my experience, can empathise for my situation -- sit at that table?” People don’t want to be a target, they want to be part of the conversation. Seeing as this industry produces culture, we have a great privilege in leading social change. Super Bowl advertisers have an opportunity to use this monster platform to take on that voice and they’re going to use it.
Aside from the social discourse, brands are going to attempt to maximise the impact of their financial investment. Teaser activity seems to have intensified, helping Super Bowl advertisers build audiences for their brand messages in advance, creating richer storytelling leading-up to the Super Bowl. It will likely continue, following the big game, given the required media commitment that comes with securing these spots.
And then there’s Skittles, who’s maximising its finances in a completely distinctive way. The candy brand long-known for its offbeat approach to garnering attention, is using a one-of-a-kind strategy to leverage their investment this year. They’re trying to make the most exclusive Super Bowl ad ever by showing their ad to a single Californian teen. The teasers, of course, are entertaining, and the brand will use its airtime to show the teen’s reaction to their spot, but not the spot itself. It’s brilliant — and their brand track record gives them the courage and license to turn Super Bowl advertising on its head, which will likely create an incredibly authentic moment for its young brand loyalists (while taking advantage of platforms like Facebook Live in that process). Well done, Mars.
Come Monday, when the ad meters are out, I know the emotion-savvy brands will come out on top. Making people feel something, whether it’s a hearty laugh, or a teary eye, will always create a deeper connection, and there’s no better time to do that than on the biggest stage in advertising. Happy watching, and go Pats!
Jeremy Schwartz is Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer at Truth Collective