Monday Wake-Up Call: Super Bowl Ad Recap, From Silly to Smart to Snarky

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From one of Tide's Super Bowl spots
From one of Tide's Super Bowl spots Credit: Tide YouTube

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. And also: You can vote, right now, for the most entertaining and effective ads in our first Super Bowl Ad Rank, which is based on scores from marketing pros (that's you.) Voting ends today at 11 a.m. E.S.T. Rate the ads here.

What people are talking about today
Advertisers generally avoided making strong political or social statements during the Super Bowl. At such a divisive moment, the thinking might be, why go there? This is the era of "Dilly Dilly," Bud Light's nonsensical and totally non-controversial catchphrase; quite a few brands seemed to be looking for their own dillyness, their own inoffensive comic distraction. Ad Age editor Brian Braiker writes in his mega-review of 45 ads from the big game, "The 2018 Super Bowl spots were generally either silly or sincere—and all of them played it safe."
Also: Our editorial partner, USA Today, says Amazon's star-studded ad for its Alexa voice assistant has won its annual Super Bowl Ad Meter, which asks online volunteers to rate ads on a score of 1 to 10. Read more on the winners here.

Good clean fun (and one dirty dance)
Tide's suite of ads from Saatchi & Saatchi New York seemed to make people laugh – they're wacky, yet also clever and meta. The Procter & Gamble brand waged a "comprehensive effort to mock nearly every staple of Super Bowl advertising," from Budweiser's Clydesdales to hypochondria-inducing pharmaceutical ads, as Ad Age's Jack Neff writes. And yet the mockery was gentle and sweet enough that other brands were eager to jump in on Tide's joke. M&Ms and Doritos both sent out Tide-related tweets. Which is interesting. Weeks ago, at the height of the whole fright over people eating Tide pods as a baffling and dangerous trend, who could have imagined that major snack brands would actually take the risk of tagging @Tide in their Super Bowl tweets?

'Never felt this way before': Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.'s goofy homage to "Dirty Dancing" on behalf of the NFL got people giggling. It was also good PR for a league in need of a little levity, given the debate over concussions and the anthem protests.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Ram spot was an outlier in that it tried to make a strong statement. The ad sampled from a powerful 50-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. sermon, with quotes about service. But "some observers knocked it for being tone deaf," as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes. Many felt King's legacy was being misused to sell trucks. And part of that famous sermon actually warned about the dangers of consumerism, such as buying a car your family can't afford, as historians pointed out on Twitter.

Schultz reports that the company says it worked in collaboration with Martin Luther King Jr.'s estate on the spot. But some guardians of King's legacy quickly distanced themselves from the ad. The King Center -- founded by King's wife, Coretta Scott King – wrote on Twitter that it had nothing to do with the Ram spot.

Also, #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay: Was it unjust that Justin Timberlake was picked for the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show, since Janet Jackson was not given a second chance after their #Nipplegate scandal at the Super Bowl 14 years ago? Essence magazine tweeted that "In many ways, Justin Timberlake's performance represents the America we are, an America that in no uncertain terms deeply favors white men." As Ad Age's Nefertiti Anderson writes, some people on Twitter turned this Super Bowl Sunday into #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay.

By the way
The Eagles beat the Patriots, 41-33.

More on the Super Bowl:

The link you're looking for is here: Watch all the Super Bowl ads right here (with web production courtesy of Ad Age's Chen Wu.)

Snark about Justin Timberlake's halftime show, Part 1: "At this point, his best songs are fit for aerobics, or SoulCycle, or factories run by robots," according to The New York Times' review of the show.

Snark about Justin Timberlake's halftime show, Part 2: His album is called "Man of the Woods," and "he seems like he really wants to commit to this dumb branding exercise. Much of the decor from his show seemed like it leapt out the background of an L.L. Bean photoshoot, and naturally he wanted to dress the part as well," Mashable writes.

'Crocodile Dundee': No, there isn't a remake hitting theatres. Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi explains how the faux movie trailer/marketing stunt was crafted by Tourism Australia and Droga5 for the Super Bowl. It was difficult to keep the secret: "That's hard to do when your chief marketing officer takes a meeting in a busy Australian café with Chris Hemsworth."

Not happening: Hyundai wanted to do a real-time ad with footage from the stadium on game day, but in the end it had to "film the entire ad in advance to skirt security concerns raised by the NFL and officials overseeing security," as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes.

Watch it: Watch Ad Age's David Hall's "Anatomy of an Ad" video about E-Trade's move to get back in the game after five years, with a new angle.

Everything besides the Super Bowl:
ICYM: Ad Age's Lindsay Stein had a must-read Friday on the anonymous Instagram account "Diet Madison Avenue," which has "been naming and shaming industry execs it says have engaged in sexual harassment."

Surprise: A South Korean appeals court let Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee leave prison after suspending his sentence for bribery; Bloomberg News calls it a "stunning reversal."

The backlash against Big Tech: Early employees at Google and Facebook, "alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build," The New York Times writes.Their group is called "The Center for Humane Technology."

Timing is everything: After keeping out of the spotlight for months, Kylie Jenner picked Super Bowl Sunday to announce the birth of her daughter. Despite the timing, she was a top trending topic on Twitter.

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