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Super Bowl

For Super Bowl LII, a Global Take on America’s Big Game

Chris Sheppard, Global Content Manager at Mirum, examines the trends from this year's big game

For Super Bowl LII, a Global Take on America’s Big Game

Yes, this year’s Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots was a great game, but the real reason we tuned in was the commercials (plus, our team didn’t make the playoffs, i.e., no dog in this fight). The big question was: in the current tense political climate, how could brands win?

Humour. And plenty of it.

“In a time when we’re so divided, humour brings us together,” says Lauren Lieberman, Marketing Director at Mirum.

Our post-game assessment is that the 'funny ads' from Super Bowl LII will remain a hot topic of conversation in bars and offices for weeks to come; why talk about politicians when you can talk about David Harbour?

Super Bowl LII spots also featured a full roster of celebrity influencers, big names like Morgan Freeman, Jeff Goldblum, Keanu Reeves, Betty White, the aforementioned David Harbour, Tracy Morgan, Danny McBride, Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bezos, Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, Anthony Hopkins, rapper Cardi B, Peter Dinklage, Busta Rhymes, Danny Devito, Jeff Bezos, and Matt Damon, amongst others.

You get the picture: it’s no longer “not cool” for celebrities to do commercials; in fact, it appears they’re lining up to do them. 

One thing that stood out about the ads was how advertisers appeared to opt out of the opportunity to show how voice assistants will impact everyday life; with 'tens of millions' of devices sold during the holidays, where were they? As expected, Amazon finally delivered the goods in the fourth quarter with a 90-second spot “Alexa Loses Her Voice.” In the ad, a frantic Jeff Bezos is reassured by his trusty assistant that a celebrity lineup of chef Gordon Ramsey, rapper Cardi B, actress Rebel Wilson and a fantastically creepy Anthony Hopkins are up to the task of replacing Alexa’s voice, which she has mysteriously lost.   

In the end, Alexa is best suited for the gig. “Thanks guys, but I'll take it from here,” she says, a clever and funny way to tease Alexa’s new, more human-sounding voice. With consumer concerns about robots taking jobs and the onward march of technology, it was a smart move by Amazon.

At Mirum, our employees around the globe enjoy the game for the window it offers on culture and advertising trends: 

Andrew Johnston, Communications Manager, Mirum Hong Kong

There’s always great interest in the Super Bowl, or as those in the industry call it, “The Oscars of Advertising.” With 30-second TV spots costing millions of dollars, people are always eager to see how their favourite brands have spent their marketing dollars.

Typically, the commercials feature a mixture of humour and celebrity cameos, a proven formula that gets audiences laughing and racks up viral views. Last year, however, was a different story. As Trump mania brewed across the country, major brands like Airbnb, Audi, Budweiser and Coca-Cola took a subtle stand, delivering carefully crafted commercials that touched on equality and immigration.

Despite the heightened political climate, Trump’s stance on NFL national anthem protests and the recent #MeToo movement, most advertisers diverged from last year’s route, opting for the safety and comfort of humour.

While Coca-Cola, T-Mobile and Toyota focused on equality, the majority of brands were united in giving viewers a reason to laugh. From a rap battle between Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman to Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr’s rendition of Dirty Dancing, there were plenty of half-time laughs, proving that perhaps laughter is the best medicine after all.

Camila Faria, Marketing Coordinator, Mirum Brazil

For this year’s Super Bowl, my feeling was that brands had no way to escape two themes in the spotlight related to anti-Trump tension in the US: feminism and gender equality, both driven by the recent women’s marches and #MeToo campaign that gained visibility during the Golden Globes, as well as the refugee issue from the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

The world is beginning to understand the power of collaboration and how obsession with borders, languages, gender and beliefs affects our potential. The “refugee nation,” a project to support refugees through the creation of an anthem and a flag, was created during the 2016 Olympic Games, a campaign that conquered the world and won 17 Cannes Lions.

Last year, Coca-Cola bet big on diversity by replaying a 2014 ad “America the Beautiful,” and due to the current political scenario, I was wondering if themes regarding respect and equality would carry through to this year’s game, but with more strength, courage and tension.

I was wrong, and for a logical reason: when the tension in real life is too strong, as it is now, the solution is to relieve. That's why we saw lots of humour and movie stars in the ads this year.

Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum India

As much as the Super Bowl is looked forward to as a great football game, what global audiences also look forward to are the brilliant ads. Iconic Super Bowl ads can make the reputation of an agency and creative team on just that one day.

With digital technologies, we’ve seen not just advertising in the traditional sense but ideas that are interactive in nature manifested across multiple platforms and media spaces. These ads have often been very topical, keeping in mind the mood of the nation and the world, and because the game is seen across large geographies the ads almost become a reference point for all things creative. The Clint Eastwood ad for Chrysler during the 2012 Super Bowl is a case in point.

This year, perhaps because of the current global political climate, the world is in a quite volatile mood. Whether about President Trump in the US, or other various stresses in the socio-political environment, people are a bit despondent. Advertising can be a force for good, a sense of soothing, and perhaps a hint of a solution for viewers.

Another truism is that irrespective of all the current challenges and stresses people may be experiencing, there’s an innate goodness in human beings. Someone needs to stroke that goodness, for the benefit of the individual as well as the community, and advertising can be that force.

If advertising can inspire the viewer to do good, for himself and for others, especially in the present times, and convey that “this too shall pass” so that one always lives in the hope of a better future, we’re all better off.

For me, this year’s Super Bowl ads succeeded.

Chris Sheppard is Global Content Manager, Mirum

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Genre: Dialogue , Digital