Good afternoon Super Bowl junkies,
I'm Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age's senior editor, here with the final edition of our Super Bowl Alert in 2020. Once again, this year failed to produce very many commercial standouts. The desire to not provoke controversy and steer clear of anything divisive, resulted in bland ads that utilized recycled material and quite literally borrowed from each other.
Just under 100 million people tuned in to see these ads on Fox—oh yeah, and to watch the Kansas City Chiefs (from Missouri) beat the San Francisco 49ers. The broadcast of the game averaged 99.9 million viewers, up from 98.2 million in 2019, Anthony Crupi writes. But when you factor in streaming that number jumps to 102 million.
While the creativity of this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was a bit above last year, according to Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker’s review of all the Big Game commercials, that isn’t saying much.
But what the commercials lacked in truly creative moments, they made up for with efforts to be more inclusive and diverse. One of the night’s standouts was Microsoft, which told the story of Katie Sowers, the first female football coach to coach in a Super Bowl. Braiker calls it, “Among the most powerful spots we’ve seen this game.”
Braiker also gave high marks to Jeep’s retake on the iconic “Groundhog Day” movie. “Here’s a funny-fuzzy commercial we wouldn’t mind being stuck in for a few more go-’rounds,” he writes.
High ranking, low score
The automaker's 60-second spot, which features Bill Murray reprising his role as meteorologist Phil Connors, also won USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. It’s followed by Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” spot and Google’s “Loretta.”
What’s interesting about this year’s Ad Meter, is Jeep’s score (7.01 out of 10), was the second-lowest score for an Ad Meter winner since the ranking was established. So it seems viewers were also less impressed with the creative this year.
In other rankings, Jeep also took home the top prize in terms of digital share of voice as measured by analytics firm iSpot.TV. The ranking measures digital activity across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and search engines. Facebook, Hummer and Google also came out on top by those metrics.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated commercials of the night was Planters’ planned funeral for its spokescharacter Mr. Peanut. Planters had killed off the fictional legume in a commercial that debuted on Jan. 26. It later paused the marketing of that ad in the wake of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others. The company still decided to air its funeral ad, which showed the tears of Kool-Aid man giving new life to Mr. Peanut in the form of Baby Nut. The reception to the spot, which also featured P&G spokescharacter Mr. Clean, was lackluster. In a Twitter poll conducted by Ad Age, 63 percent of respondents said the ad was a let down.
But it seems like Planters has big plans for Baby Nut. The company quickly launched a store for Baby Nut merchandise, obviously alluding to Disney’s missteps with Baby Yoda merchandise. It also encouraged viewers to interact with Baby Nut on Twitter, where the new spokescharacter was reacting to people’s requests in real-time.
There was lots of friendly collaboration in this year’s Super Bowl ads, Ad Age's Jack Neff reports. There was, of course, Kool-Aid man and Mr. Clean mourning the passing of Mr. Peanut in the Planters ad, while Wonder Woman and Bud Light’s Bud Knight came to the rescue in Tide’s ads. On social media, brands eagerly played into each other’s jokes. Pop-Tarts played on the Boston-accent for the pronunciation of its brand name that was at the center of Hyundai’s ad; Reese’s posted an image of its peanut butter cup with Mr. Peanut laying inside it like a coffin; and Avocados From Mexico superimposed an avocado in a helmet inside the bike basket, like the groundhog featured in the Jeep commercial.