Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving in terms of American food consumption. During the four to five hours of the game alone, the average viewer consumes 2400 calories, which is a full day for many. As we wash down salty snacks and greasy foods with cold beer and soda, we are bombarded with food and beverage ads. Perhaps they should offer some PSA time for gym memberships.
We did a full recap of all ads on Monday’s Buzz Bin, and pointed out the shortcomings of the pharmaceutical industry on Thursday. One thing you probably noticed with all the ads was the proliferation of hashtags. Some brands were rewarding tweets with cash, while others just quickly flashed it at the end of their 30 seconds of fame.
In the spirit of awards season, I’m going to offer up my own awards for this year’s food and beverage ads.
Best Beer Ad: Overall, I thought it was a weak category of nominees this year. Budweiser ditched the puppies in favor of Helen Mirren and Clydesdales. The “Bud Light Party” linked into the attention of election season, while Shock Top tried to parlay the popularity of a premium cable series. Michelob Ultra thought it could connect with its target audience with a bunch of heavy breathing, but fell flat. The Budweiser ad was a strong response to the craft beer trend, but its win here is more about the lack of competition.
Soda Supreme: Coke offered some strong nominees with its look at the relationship between brothers and tapping into the Avengers phenomenon. Mountain Dew had one of the stranger ads with its #PuppyMonkeyBaby. Pepsi continued to use pop music to be the “Choice of a New Generation” by featuring Janelle Monáe. Music has always been a trademark of its ads from Paula Abdul to Beyoncé, and working with Janelle was a smart evolution to continue to reach the next generation. The winner has to be Mountain Dew. It was the most memorable and had the most buzz the following day, which ultimately is the goal.
Snack Attack: For the record, I was not a big fan of any of the Doritos ads. For 10 years, the brand has run a brilliant campaign featuring aspiring directors by sourcing user generated submissions. It may be time to move on. Both Snickers and Skittles represented the candy aisle well with celebrity spots that featured Willem Dafoe and Steven Tyler respectively, but I’m going with the healthy snack for this year’s award. Avocados From Mexico returned for its futuristic museum a la Guardians of the Galaxy. They used ’80s nostalgia with a dash of Scott Baio to remind consumers that avocados are available 24/7/365. Like last year’s “Prehistoric Draft,” I think the oddity can overshadow the message, but when you are trying to break through a noisy space, you have to spice things up.
Restaurant Review: Despite the number of pizzas ordered for game day, they were absent between the whistles. McDonald’s had a short appearance before kick-off for any of the five people who have not heard about all-day breakfast. Jack in the Box had an odd spot featuring Jack’s oversized head as George Washington crossing the Potomac to introduce a new burger, and KFC is still trying to bring the Colonel back to life. Taco Bell’s ad to introduce the Quesalupa was nothing groundbreaking, but its effort to maximize its ad buy was successful. Taco Bell had people watching teaser videos before the game and even ordering the mystery item before it was unveiled. Red Lobster deserves a Razzie in this category. Not for an ad, but for its failure to seize the social throne for this Super Bowl, when it received an unexpected shout out from Beyoncé, but was slow to respond.
Feel Good Award: Budweiser should be commended for running a PSA with Helen Mirren. I also liked how Intuit Quick Books featured a small business, Death Wish Coffee, but felt the ad did not resonate for either brand. I do expect Death Wish Coffee to see a spike in sales as a result of this exposure. However, Campbell’s Soup takes home the hardware with its salute to the sports mom.
Not Really a Food Commercial, but a Good Commercial: I loved the ad from Adobe Marketing Cloud featuring an ad guy who had all his money riding on his cream cheese ad for the Big Game. However, Colgate had one of the best ads when it reminded us how we can all make a difference by turning off the water while we brush our teeth. Water is a critical resource too often taken for granted and crucial for agriculture and food production.
Congratulations to Peyton Manning and the Broncos. While no one knows who will return to Super Bowl 51, you can count on a mountain of food and a cornucopia of ads.