Poll: 2018 Super Bowl Ad Preview – Winners And Losers

Barrett Macgowan

Barrett Macgowan

Copywriter

In a world supersaturated by content (thanks for reading our blog, by the way), attention is expensive.

For 364 days of the year, it takes a mix of elite strategy and creative to break through the thick wall of defenses consumers have built to insulate themselves from a constant barrage of ads. But one day a year, that all changes. On Super Bowl Sunday, the show starts when the commercials begin.

You could make the case, like hard-charging Gary Vee does at every opportunity, that $5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad isn’t expensive – it’s a bargain. With well over 100 million people glued to their screens of choice anxiously awaiting their chance to un-blinkingly witness the best ads brands have to offer, it’s not a bad argument. And that’s before you factor in the value of the continuing conversations online.

That’s not to say every brand that writes one comically long check sees great ROI from it. That cash only buys you attention. The same mix of elite strategy and creative is still crucial to make good on the investment of a Super Bowl spot.

So, who from Super Bowl LII’s slate of behemoth brands nailed it – and who didn’t?

As a collection of people obsessed with ads and branding, there was no chance we were waiting until the game to find out. So we threw a little Super Ad Bowl viewing party and did some research to see which of the 12 pre-released ads people thought were most likeable, memorable, likely to connect, and likely to inspire purchase.

But before we tell you our opinions, here are the ads:

Doritos & Mountain Dew: Tongue Twisters

Amazon: Alexa Loses Her Voice

Budweiser: Stand By You

Michelob Ultra: The Perfect Fit

Stella Artois: Water.org

Peta: Redemption

Skittles: Super Important Super Bowl News

M&Ms: Human

Squarespace: Keanu Reeves

Diet Coke: Because I Can

Winter Olympics Best of U.S.: Mikaela Shiffrin

So, what did you think? Did you notice any trends?

Each year there are a few subtle threads that run through the ads. Sometimes it’s anthemic spots that make you want to pound your chest, sometimes it’s a heavy dose of CGI. This year’s themes appear to be humor and celebrities. Often together.

Here’s what we thought

Most Likable:

  1. Alexa
  2. Olympics
  3. Doritos & Mountain Dew

Most Memorable:

  1. Alexa
  2. Doritos & Mountain Dew
  3. M&Ms

Most Likely to Inspire Purchase:

  1. Alexa
  2. Stella Artois
  3. Budweiser

Least Likable:

  1. Squarespace
  2. Peta
  3. Diet Coke

Least Memorable:

  1. Diet Coke
  2. Stella Artois
  3. Michelob Ultra

Least Likely to Inspire Purchase:

  1. Peta
  2. Squarespace
  3. Skittles

Best Overall: Alexa

Other winners: Olympics, Budweiser, Doritos & Mountain Dew

Worst overall: Squarespace

Huh, Jeff Bezos stuck his face in his ad and it was still good.

This Alexa ad was great. A somewhat rare occurrence for ads with the CEO in them. They showed off what Alexa can do (or could do if she had her voice) in a way that was fun and memorable.

ABFTTB

I’m not one to use exclamation points flippantly, but: Hell yeah, Olympics! Hell yeah, women! This spot kicked tail. A simple idea executed to absolute perfection. Perfect song choice. Perfect editing. And the perfect cultural timing for a spot that taps into female empowerment. I’ll definitely be tuned in and rooting for Mikaela Shiffrin.

More Danny DeVito, please

That M&Ms spot was a hoot. Looking at the ingredients list of that ad – a celeb cameo and CGI personification of a food they want people to eat – it looks like a disaster. But a nice script, great direction, and a fantastic job by Danny DeVito made this one a winner.

Doritos & Mountain Dew

Continuing the theme of celebs and humor, Doritos & Mountain Dew leaned on the relevance of Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, the likability and timelessness of Morgan Freeman, and some perfect throwback songs to craft a pair of wonderful spots. Having Missy Elliot tweeting about the spots the day they were released didn’t hurt, either. And I have a sneaking suspicion these spots might win the YouTube view count battle because of it.

Come on, Diet Coke

That’s it? That was so boring. As one of our viewers put it, that was Diet Coke’s “first Super Bowl spot in 21 years. Paul Feig behind the camera and Gillian Jacobs starring in the spot. Introducing a brand-new look for the product, along with new flavors. You’d think Diet Coke would make a splash here. Instead, it all feels lazy and uninspired.”

Couldn’t agree more, anonymous commenter. Could not agree more.

Peta

While we expect this to be one of the most talked about spots this year, it scored really low with our audience on a number of factors. But I’ll stick up for it a little.

I don’t think this ad should be docked for its perceived inability to drive purchases. Or, in this case, non-purchases. (Is that a thing?)

A Super Bowl spot is a great tool for the top-of-funnel. 100+ million enthralled viewers means awareness out the wazoo. Sure, Peta would love for people to go cold turkey on turkey, but sales (or, in this case, non-sales) is the wrong metric.

Instead, their KPIs should revolve around the stats from sentiment trackers like Crimson Hexagon to judge the ad’s ability to spur conversations and change opinions. If they were really smart, the spot would be just one part of an omnichannel blitz that includes a pre-arranged wave of amplification from like-minded celebrities on social media after the ad airs. Capitalize on the awareness boom, seize the momentum, and ride that wave to the next stage of their respective buyer’s journey.

We’ll have to wait and see if these brands spent their money well or just pitched it out the window. Either way, there will be a lot of witnesses.

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