The Real Winner of Super Bowl LII

Did you guys watch the big game last night? I didn’t.

My wife and I aren’t really into sports. Instead of football, we watched a program on animal conservation, Last Chance to See.

Yeah, we’re cool. So what?

N.B. It’s actually an amazing show. Twenty years ago Douglas Adams wrote Last Chance to See, an adventure epic which chronicles his and Mar Carwardine’s adventures around the world to see animals that are soon to go extinct. 20 years later, Steven Fry and Marc retrace their steps and see if any of the conservation efforts that have been made over the last two decades actually made any difference. Spoiler alert: I’ve cried more watching this show than I have in the last ten years of my life. It’s not a happy, feel-good show. If you really want to feel sad, I suggest reading the book first, learning about the animals, and then watching the show. It makes your heart sink.

What were we talking about? Oh, that’s right – sports. I’m to understand that the Philadelphia Eagles sportsed better than the Patriots? Good on them.

I also gather that there was a young man on his phone during the Justin Timberlake performance at halftime. To that, I say “Lol.”

But really, the only thing I care about are the ads. And this year, there were some good ones. Most of them came out two weeks in advance of the big game, which was kind of weird when you think about it. Even a couple years ago, big brands would debut their spots during the big game and then run them for months following.

But now they give internet teasers, release them on YouTube, and create a buzz almost a month in advance of the 30 seconds they payed $5 million for. But, what do I know. If I had that kind of budget, I might do it that way, too.

There were some silly ones. Avocados from Mexico, the clear winner from last year, had a good followup with…I guess they’re calling it #GuacWorld. **Overly dramatic eye roll**

Pepsi did a really good job, too. They had a great concept, a great script, and some great shots. They definitely bounced back from their debacle earlier this year. You remember the whole ‘Kylie Jenner handing the cop a Pepsi’ thing? Yeah…let’s just watch this one instead.

On the losing side? Dodge. Heard on NPR this morning: “Car manufacturers should know one thing: don’t use speeches from civil rights icons to hock your product posthumously.” I mean. It’s a solid spot. It’s a good audio bed going over some inspirational footage. Somebody should’ve realized that this wasn’t a good idea, though. Somewhere along the line, they should’ve looked back to Pepsi’s flop and said “Meh, maybe we shouldn’t go anywhere near that.”

I expected a lot more from Wendy’s, too. I like their new attitude that they’re bringing in from social, specifically Twitter, but the spot was all post. It was type with b-roll behind it. C’mon, guys. You couldn’t have hired like, Michael Ian Black or someone to come and just read the script? No? It’s the Super Bowl. Not Thursday afternoon on NBC.

But the real winner this year wasn’t the Eagles. It was Tide. Their ads weren’t complex. They weren’t inspirational. They weren’t even that funny. What they did do, however, was mess with your head and make you expect the unexpected.

They even took some of our old favorites and turned them against us. Here’s the Old Spice guy. But instead of selling body wash, you guessed it, it’s a Tide ad.

Here’s another hijacking some of the most influential advertising spokes-horses of all time. Bud? Nope. It’s a Tide ad. Remember that dancing Mr. Clean from last year? Haha, you thought!

So why is this such a great ad?

It’s simple. The whole concept hinges on misinformation. You expect one thing, are enjoying that one thing, and then boom, it’s a Tide ad. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy fixing a car, a guy driving a car, or even if it’s an ad you saw last year. They even ask it in the end of the very first spot: “Does this make every ad a Tide ad?”

Now that that concept is in your head, the answer is “Yes” – it very much makes every ad a Tide ad. I know I’ll be thinking of that as we flip through some spots on YouTube during our concepting meeting today. It’s a great combination of four little words that will definitely be sticking in consumers’ heads for a while.

Do you have a favorite that I didn’t mention? Did you think T-Mobile killed it, or that Amazon’s ‘Alexa lost her voice’ spot was the clear winner? Let me know.

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