The Super Bowl can only have one winner every year, but you can have more than one winner when it comes to Super Bowl ads.
This list may be premature — since not all of the 2020 Super Bowl spots are yet available online — but here are some of the best commercials I’ve seen this year so far…
Best Use of a Recognizable Accent:
Hyundai, “Smaht Pahk”
Honestly, I can’t figure out what either Boston or a Boston accent has to do with a Hyundai Sonota. But if you’re willing to look past that and just appreciate a funny ad with a few great celebrities, this is nice spot. More importantly, it highlights an interesting, useful, and differentiating feature of the car it’s promoting in a memorable way, so that maybe you’ll remember Hyundai the next time you’re in the market for a new car. (You do remember that marketing is actually about selling more stuff, right?)
Most Likely to Make My Wife Cry:
After seeing it first, I asked my wife to watch this ad; halfway through I heard a sob, and when I turned around to look at her face, she was in tears. (Me? I wasn’t crying! My office is just really dusty.) Google has put together some really, really great ads in the past decade. This is one of them, although some will undoubtedly find the Google Assistant features showcased in the spot more than a little creepy.
Best Ad for a Product I Can’t Buy:
New York Life, “Love Takes Action”
This ad was a close runner-up for the “make my wife cry” category. (After I showed it to her, she showed me her arms: literal goosebumps.) It’s a surprisingly emotional spot with a great message that’s relevant for the company, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen another insurance ad that resonated with me so well. Would it be enough for me to switch insurance companies? Well, New York Life isn’t available in Canada… so I guess we’ll never know.
Ad Most Likely to Make a Difference:
Michael Bloomberg for President, “George”
This isn’t intended to be a political piece, but let’s take just a moment to talk about this astounding Bloomberg ad. First, it’s a full minute long, which means if it airs on Sunday, it may cost Bloomberg $11.4 million. Of course, that doesn’t matter for him, because a) he has an estimated personal net worth of $60.5 billion, b) he’s self-funding his bid to become the Democratic Nominee, and ultimately, the US President, and c) according to the Washington Post, he’s “promised to spend $100 million on a digital effort to defeat Trump in swing states.” Second, this is an emotional spot… any parent is going to sit-up and pay attention once they realize what it’s about. And third, it drives home a very powerful message at a very important time: Bloomberg isn’t afraid of the gun lobby. At a time when many Americans are fed up with the number of school shootings and believe it’s time to implement tougher gun laws, this ad clearly says that Bloomberg — who very clearly doesn’t need the gun lobby’s money to either get or stay elected — could be the one to make it happen. I’m not a political analyst, but I’ll bet Bloomberg’s poll numbers skyrocket next week.
Best Use of Pop Culture and Nostalgia:
Wal-Mart, “Famous Visitors”
I can’t love the entertainment industry as much as I do, and not include a spot that features characters from Toy Story, Star Wars, Star Trek, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and more. This is a pretty typical big-budget Super Bowl ad, but not every ad has to change the world, and this one does a nice job in delivering it’s “free, convenient pick-up at Wal-Mart” message in a light-hearted, entertaining way.
My Favourite Spot of the 2020 Superbowl (so far):
Not every advertiser chooses to release their Super Bowl ads prior to the actual game, so I can’t say for certain if this is going to be my favourite ad of the 2020 Big Game. But boy-o-boy did I like Snickers’ “#SnickersFixTheWorld” spot!
“…the world is out of sorts, we need to fix it quicker… we’re going to fix the world, but feeding it Snickers!”
Yes, that’s an actual excerpt from the hilarious song performed in this spot. In a clear parody (homage?) to Coca-Cola’s 1971 classic “Hilltop” spot, the Snickers ad has various characters singing outrageous lyrics as they come together for an outrageous finale. And that last bit at the end? That’s comedic gold.
This is a terrific example of an “on-brand” ad with a relevant message — “fix big problems with a Snickers” — that I’m willing to bet will earn high preference and recall scores. Well done, Snickers… that was satisfying.
That’s the list so far… but I’m hoping for a few more winners during this Sunday’s Big Game. Happy Viewing!
David Pullara is a senior marketer, consultant, writer, speaker, and course facilitator for the Schulich Executive Education Center. His career to date has included roles at Starbucks, Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut), Coca-Cola, and Google. You can get his weekly email delivered to your inbox for free every Friday morning by signing up at www.dpthoughts.ca.