Photo by Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
We gave you the rundown earlier on how the NFL has lately been suffering the fallout of some serious #PRFails – now let’s talk about how this year’s Super Bowl and its advertisers enjoyed some great #PRWins with fun and heartwarming commercials.
The first way Super Bowl LII was able to pull off a great commercial crop was by learning from one of the issues currently plaguing teams – political demonstrations and back-and-forth that’s quickly alienating and bogging down fans. No ads with “political” messaging were allowed. There’s a time and place for that kind of discussion, but in this case the NFL decided to attempt to take it out of sports, an apolitical stance which for many fans is part of sports’ attraction. This year’s ads were mostly lighthearted and put smiles on viewers’ faces, which is always a big win for advertisers and a big win for the “Game” as a whole. Check out a few examples:
Tide: Tide did something interesting and “meta” by parodying many different types of ads and claiming them all as “Tide” ads as the narrator pointed out the cleanliness of the actors’ clothes. Not only is this funny, as many of the different ads are recognizable tropes, it also leads viewers to associate all goofy ads with Tide through the well-played “No, it’s a Tide ad” conceit (“meme” material in the making). Furthermore, it’s a direct self-deprecating dig at the fact that the company once put out a Super Bowl ad no one was able to recognize as a Tide ad – everyone loves a person or company who is able to laugh at themselves.
Amazon’s Alexa: In this ad, the voice of Alexa gets a cold and beloved celebrities are called on to fill in. Good PR through positive association.
Budweiser: The beer giant played up its gentle side in this tearjerking ad highlighting the company’s occasional practice of halting its beer production to can fresh water for disaster relief. The commercial shows the “Budweiser” branded water being packaged and delivered to a disaster site as the song “Stand By Me” plays. A heartwarming flexing of corporate goodwill muscles.
Groupon: Another ad making use of celebrity endorsement to create positive association – as well as to alleviate another PR issue experienced by the company itself. Comedian Tiffany Haddish directly addresses the perception that users of Groupon are “cheap” – who cares, she tells us, all these spa treatments are making her skin look great! “She’s a celebrity and she uses Groupon;” enough said.
Febreze: The air freshener company took a winning risk here by running an irreverent commercial centered around the reason why most people actually use Febreze (hint: it’s not to freshen up the couch after pets have been sitting there). Audiences no doubt appreciated it because it was an instance of “real talk,” and told a funny story almost like a film short that people were able to enjoy.
The lesson here? There are many ways for a company to curry goodwill, but one of the most effective is “edu-tainment:” providing value to audiences through advertising that appeals to positive emotions or is enjoyable. Throwaway ads create negligible or even negative PR – remember that something as simple as a smile on someone’s face equates to “value,” and if you can bring value before the customer even encounters your product, you’re gold! #Touchdown.