Beyond the Bowl: Nostalgia, social consciousness and other brand experiences

February 4, 2019
6 min read

The game may be over and the snacks put away, but the buzz around the much-anticipated Super Bowl advertisements continues to grow. Mintel Comperemedia’s digital team has watched all of the advertisements from last night’s big game and analyzed the flighting strategies of every brand that participated in Super Bowl advertising in 2019. From nostalgia to social consciousness, here we share the overarching themes of the night and highlight best practices for brands to keep in mind for high-profile advertising.

90’s nostalgia

Nostalgia marketing is even more relevant as Millennials become parents and look to share parts of their childhood with their own kids, as highlighted in Mintel’s research on marketing to Millennials. Nostalgic ads extract more emotional appeal from brands and generate earned media as fans and viewers share memories with their own social networks. An omnichannel approach to this nostalgic content only makes it easier for viewers to share and engage with the message. This year, we saw several brands capitalize on this marketing strategy with advertising spots that resonated with their intended Millennial audience, resulting in consumers aged 25-34 driving social buzz.

Winner: Doritos

This Doritos spot tapped Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys to show that both original and new pack a punch through a remixed version of ‘I Want it That Way.’ Doritos waited until the weekend of the Super Bowl to implement its onmichannel strategy surrounding the spot, with the brand investing about $170K in paid Facebook ads to promote its new Flaming Hot Doritos. The brand also leveraged Chance and the Backstreet Boy’s social presence to promote the new song.

Honorable mentions: Olay and Stella Artois

Olay partnered with Sarah Michelle Gellar to recreate her famous horror roles from the 1990s for a commercial in which the actress can’t unlock her phone to call for help because her skin has been transformed by Olay. The spot premiered before the game started and garnered more than 10 million views. Olay invested more than $1 million in paid Facebook ads and $725,000 in online video to promote the series.

Stella Artois asked famous 90s characters Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and The Dude (Jeff Bridges) to abandon their go-to drinks to #pouritforward with Stella Artois. A few sad fans were hopeful for a Big Lebowski sequel, but overall the campaign sparked mockery from fans who challenged the notion of The Dude or Carrie Bradshaw drinking a Stella Artois.

Social consciousness

Mintel research on consumer attitudes toward corporate social responsibility shows that three in four US consumers believe brands can change society for the better. Some brands opted to utilize marketing on the biggest playing field to push their platform. While taking a stand on social issues is half the battle, brands that embody an authentic message are more apt to elicit stronger consumer response.

Winner: Microsoft

Microsoft used its Super Bowl spot to tell the story behind its Xbox ad from the holiday season. The ad showcased video games as being a level playing field for kids with disabilities, as well as highlighted kids’ vibrant personalities and the families touched by Microsoft’s commitment to inclusivity. The ad struck a chord with viewers, sparking 96% average positive sentiment, the highest among all of the ads that aired throughout the event.

Honorable mention: Budweiser

Budweiser took its ecological stance beyond an ad campaign and through to its actual business operations. In 2018, Budweiser made a promise to brew with 100% renewable electricity and used its 2019 Super Bowl ad to both promote its commitment to environmental responsibility and inspire others in their own pursuit for a more sustainable future, as highlighted in Mintel’s 2019 Global Food and Drink Trend “Evergreen Consumption.” The long term commitment and permanent change to their business operations makes their platform more authentic.

Fumble: Toyota

Toyota leveraged a similar social message as Bumble, highlighting the adversity of a strong female athlete. While Bumble utilized Serena Williams to narrate her own story, Toyota’s narrator tells female football player Toni Harris’ story for her. While Serena’s voice-over added to Bumble’s overall message of making the first move, Toni Harris’ story felt disconnected from Toyota’s Rav4 Hybrid, resulting in the brand’s platform ultimately failing to convey a genuine message.

Beyond the Bowl

Viewership for Super Bowl LIII decreased 7% from last year and came in as the lowest rated telecast since 2009. This year, we saw brands extend the Super Bowl ad experience beyond the actual televised event to ensure that their $5 million investment attracted the most impressions possible. Brands with a clear omnichannel strategy connected most with consumers.

Winner: Amazon

Amazon became one of the biggest spenders this year, spending $15 million on their spot—an interesting move for a digital-first brand. The brand prioritized TV spend to create a broader audience for its new online products and Alexa features. The pre-Super Bowl teasers featured celebrity endorsements that resonated among all generations, from Broad City to Han Solo. Amazon spent $650,000 in additional digital advertising for the Amazon Echo leading up to the big game.

Honorable mention: Expensify

The business expense app made a bold move to go B2C with a robust, creative Super Bowl campaign. Beyond the traditional 30-second spot, Expensify created a music video about business expenses, starring 2 Chainz and Adam Scott. Ads for the music video invited viewers to scan QR codes for the chance to win prizes and those who watch the spot on YouTube are served an Expensify pre-roll advertisement about the QR code contest.

Fumble: Burger King

Burger King bucked the trend and did not release its full spot in advance of the Super Bowl. The burger chain spent $450,000 in paid Facebook teasers and asked consumers to use DoorDash before the big game to order the Burger King Mystery Box, which contained a wig and empty ketchup bottles. The commercial itself showed Andy Warhol eating a Whopper from the 1982 film 66 Scenes from America. Viewers were left scratching their heads as to why they should #eatlikeandy and the branded hashtag generated subpar buzz given the build up to the Super Bowl. If you’re going to build to a big reveal, it better be good, and obvious.

Our 2020 prediction

Super Bowl advertising will continue to move beyond the bowl. Key brands will cover more ground and maximize game time visibility through omnichannel marketing strategies. The brands that create the most buzz will be ones that elicit an emotional reaction from consumers.

Jeannette Ornelas is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Mintel. Jeannette is responsible for producing syndicated and custom reports and providing omni-channel insights that enable clients to thrive within the digital space across a range of industry sectors.

Laura Ziemer the Director of Digital Insights with Comperemedia. Laura is responsible for leading omnichannel report development and provides marketing insights across a range of industry sectors and channels.

Lierin Ehmke is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Mintel. Lierin is responsible for producing syndicated and custom reports and providing omni-channel insights that enable clients to thrive within the digital space across a range of industry sectors.

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