February 3, 2020
Best Commercials of The Game Which Shall Not Be Named
You might not have heard, but there was this big football game tonight. I almost forgot about it because, ahem, the Bears weren’t in it.
But sour grapes aside, I always watch to vicariously live some lucky fan’s dream, and of course, for the commercials. I’d like to say it’s because of my creative background in production, but really I’m just an sucker for the social currency of the next day’s water cooler conversation. If you don’t have a team in the game, you’re going to argue over what you can fully participate in: good and bad advertising.
Here’s my top 10.
Walmart knows that convenience is as important, if not more important, than price for today’s consumer. In an age where we can have pretty much anything delivered, the brand needs to keep prices low and convenience high. To communicate the message of its order pickup to a broad audience, they incorporated numerous movie references across a span of decades to resonate with several generations. As each scene rolled out, you mentally named the movie, and then anticipated the next one. They tied each scene to a product (hello, Windex!) before wrapping up with the tagline: Out of this world convenience.
Silly (but smart) and fun.
9. Porsche: The Heist
First off, this one starts with a focus on one gorgeous, sleek, I-don’t-have-enough-amazing-superlatives-to-describe-this car. (Porche, if you want me to try this out, I suppose I could be convinced.) This James Bond/Mission Impossible-esque commercial evokes the spirit of excitement that the brand wants you to feel for its newest vehicle, the Taycan. Through a chase scene, it showcases the features and benefits of the car in a way that’s edgy and unsettling. Just at the point where you wonder to yourself, Wait – are they promoting theft? They reveal the punchline.
Finally, an electric vehicle that steals you. You had me at hello, Porsche.
- Olay: Make Space for Women
I give credit to Olay for always trying to be a voice for women and pushing boundaries for equity. This one makes a purposeful play on humor, to reach the fun-loving football fans where they are in the moment. It’s an unexpected change from its typical earnestness so it catches attention. Olay often tries for cultural movement of some kind, and I applaud their efforts to donate $1 to Girls who Code for every tweet. My one complaint is that :30 goes by too quickly, and they didn’t leave enough time for me to get the hashtag. For those with fast fingers on their DVR, it’s #MakeSpaceForWomen
- Squarespace: Winona in Winona
Squarespace allows you to create websites. This could have been forgettable ad, but they tied one cultural icon in Winona Ryder, to another entertainment touchstone, Fargo. They write copy that allows Winona to be what we expect: quirky and off-kilter. We all love the dry humor of this familiar dialogue in an unmistakable accent:
“Whatcha doing?” “Building a website. I like pictures.” “I like pictures.”
- Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold: 6 for 6-Pack
Beer typically hasn’t been a consumer product known for doing socially conscious advertising, but the Big-Named Game is certainly the time to go big on reaching mass audiences with this kind of message. If you haven’t been under a rock, you’ll know that beer sales are down as millennials turn to craft beer, or turn away from alcohol in general. One way to reach this audience is through their conscience and their commitment to brands that are impacting the world for the better.
This new product offers a win-win for beer drinkers. Drink organic beer, and they’ll help a farmer turn six square feet of farmland from conventional methods to organic.
- Walmart: United Towns
Kudos to Walmart (yes, I know I gave them a # already, and no, they don’t pay me) for sharing a message of diversity. Without getting all political, they show the many faces, ages, races, and people – because we’re all just people – that frequent their stores. And ask us in a non-preachy way, to:
Live better. Together. Some may say it’s not enough to heal the nation’s horrible divide, but it’s a start, and effort and intent can go a long way.
- New York Life: Love Takes Action
New York Life has a history of some pretty darn good commercials. This one does not disappoint.
A really smart copywriter describes the various definitions of different types of love, ending with agape love. The gorgeous cinematography, coupled with the music, culminates in a heartwarming message that I would like to watch again. And again.
- Verizon: The Amazing Things 5G Won’t Do:
This commercial is simply perfect. 5G is an abstract idea that’s a tough subject to cover creatively and emotionally. I can see the ad agency now, sitting around a conference table brainstorming some really dumb ideas (and yes, intern, there’s such a thing as a really dumb question, and there’s especially such a thing as a really dumb idea), before someone came up with this one. It’s not what 5G does. It’s what it enables. It is about how it can make people’s lives better. What better way to showcase this than through our first responders, and those tasked with helping others in pivotal and dangerous life moments.
The visuals are purposefully simple. Sometimes photography can capture a moment in time that will stick in your brain and touch your heart. You have time to reflect on that moment, without distractions. Just brilliant.
Not gonna lie; I didn’t know this athlete’s but felt like I was supposed to, so I looked him up. (Sorry George Kittle fans.) Again, he’s not a Chicago Bear so….
Either way, I was captivated by watching his face be graced by pair after pair of trendy eyeglasses. It compelled me to their website where I spent even less time watching the game and more time than I’d like to admit trying on half their frames for women. Ignore the lack of makeup. I was home on my couch on a Sunday night. How cool is this?
1.Google: How to Not Forget
Google has gotten really good at sharing the broader emotional message of how technology can help us in concrete ways. We hear what seems to be an elderly gentleman’s real voice as he asks various questions about the history of his relationship with a woman named Loretta.
He asks his Google Assistant to show him photos of their anniversary, their our favorite movie, and then her personality quirks, and those things that made her quintessentially her.
This taps into a universal feeling we have when we lose someone; that they in fact are already gone, but we’re losing them more and more with each day that passes and we forget these little things… putting even more distance between us and them.
If this one doesn’t make you feel something, you need to see your therapist for childhood trauma.
There were many others worth more than a short mention here, including the NFL’s Inspire Change commercial. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive but to start a conversation.
If you judge these ads by being memorable, it’s a pretty good year. But if you’re a brand, your ROI is an actual sale. And I’ll actually be buying something I saw tonight. The S.B.G. (guess the acronym so I don’t get sued) is one of the few times Americans still abide by appointment TV viewing. My small purchase will be part of a bigger trend, and one marketers live for as evidence that what they do has an impact. Thanks to all of you for the creativity.
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