The seriousness of the ads in #SB49 was the the major theme of most ad commentators today. By far the most controversial and serious ad was from Nationwide titled #Make Safe Happen. While the overwhelming social media reaction was negative, according to data from Amobee Brand Intelligence, which said that 64% of the more than 238,000 public social media mentions about Nationwide on Sunday were negative. My question is whether it may eventually raise more awareness from the social media discussion it started than from the ad itself.
Take a look at the ad before you make your final decision…
Beyond the Nationwide spot, there were several other spots which dealt with serious and sentimental themes like domestic abuse, fatherhood and bullying. One ad expert said it best in the New York Times review,
“Finally, a more serious Super Bowl with a high dose of humanity on display,” said Adam Tucker, president of WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather advertising in New York.”
Given the multiple hits to the NFL brand this year from domestic abuse to deflated footballs, I think that the overall tone of this year’s ads is a marketing response to the downer year. The NFL itself dealt with these dark themes in 2014 and marketers seem to take their cue from this reality.
But, I hope that we have turned a corner in Super Bowl advertising and realized that a captive audience of 100 million viewers is too good to waste on only humorous or even silly ads. Think of all the good that could be done if even a fraction of the $332 million spent was focused on improving education or ending homelessness. In the end I believe that you need a mix of entertaining and serious ads. While I think that the Nationwide ad was probably too much of a downer for the big game, I do believe that rest of the ad mix was just right and I hope that a real social media discussion of these issues continues well into the future.