The Best Commercials of Superbowl LIII (Analysis & Copy Breakdown)
So last night was the Super Bowl.
And despite a terribly boring defensive battle between the Rams and the Pats… there was one part of the night that didn’t disappoint.
There were some damn effective ones this year.
And there were three that I personally — as an Ad Man — thought did an incredible job of selling their products to the masses.
I’m going to break down all 3 of them here and analyze why they worked so well… so you can try to use the same principles for your own ads.
Let’s take a look at the bronze, silver and gold medalists from the best commercials of Superbowl 53…
Bronze Medal: Microsoft’s “We All Win” Campaign
Man… talk about pulling on your heartstrings.
This one hit you right in the emotions.
To be quite honest, I had no idea these special adaptive gaming controllers even existed.
I’m not a gamer, myself. Don’t really have the time or desire to start playing video games.
But if I ever did, I’d probably consider getting an Xbox above all other systems.
Now, I’m not exactly sure who their target market is with this campaign. I can only speculate. But I’m pretty sure this was a campaign directed at people who are NOT currently gamers.
Here’s what this commercial did for me:
It shifted my internal beliefs about Microsoft.
The feelings and new belief system that I’m left with after watching this are:
“Microsoft is an innovative company if they can create these kinds of controllers for kids with disabilities. And I think they are pretty awesome for taking the initiative. I haven’t seen any other company do that.”
Here are a few other things they did well:
They are starting to use (much like Bud Light) long-form storytelling and a multi-step, serialized story arc in a mass medium. Which is pretty fucking cool… because this was something I thought was best done with email marketing and possibly social media. I wasn’t sure it could be done on TV. But it seems to be becoming the trend.
You might recognize him from Microsoft’s “He’s Gonna Do It” Holiday Advertisement which was running in November & December 2018.
They zoomed in on the personal stories and struggles of Owen (and a few other kids) in the Super Bowl commercial.
And they DEMONSTRATED how their products are being used.
They didn’t just say, “We have an awesome new adaptive controller system that allows everyone to enjoy our games.”
They actually showed you.
Demonstration is the most powerful form of proof in advertising. Use it.
Throughout the entire minute of the commercial, you see kids using the adaptive controllers effectively.
So I’d imagine that if you were a parent of a child who needs an adaptive controller…. how would you NOT buy one from Microsoft after seeing this commercial?
Interviewing the parents was also really effective.
There was one part where Owen’s dad said,
“One of the biggest fears early on was, how will Owen be viewed by all the other kids… but he’s not different when he plays.”
That hits you hard.
It’s a statement that makes you both incredibly sad and incredibly hopeful at the same time.
Good advertising evokes emotion. And this Super Bowl commercial did an incredible job of that.
They ended with a great tag, too.
It left you feeling good and happy and hopeful in a world that sometimes is a little bit crazy and depressing.
Nice job, Microsoft.
Silver Medal: Skull Shaver “The Pitbull”
Super Bowl Ads are notoriously expensive.
Companies brag about how they spent millions of dollars for 15 seconds of air time to run their ad.
So unless you’re a gigantic company who already has a worldwide brand and distribution system… for most companies, it’s really hard to get an ROI on that kind of ad spend.
However, there is ONE company that I predict WILL make that money back, many times over.
And that’s why I thought Skull Shaver’s Pitbull Super Bowl Commercial did such an incredible job.
I’ll admit, I am a little biased.
I love direct response advertising.
Direct Response advertising is designed to make sales immediately. Meaning, at the end of the ad… if we do our job well… you’re actually pulling out your credit card and sending us money for the product you just saw.
This is a little different from most Super Bowl commercials, which use image or brand advertisements.
For a lot of big companies who have products in every store you walk into, they can get away with not making sales immediately… because they’re focused on causing a belief change and shifting your worldview ever so slightly… so the next time you’re considering making a buying decision, you’ll buy their product over their competitors.
Skull Shaver probably made a SHIT TON of money last night.
This was a perfectly executed sales video.
They started with a call out:
“Hey bald guys!”
Doesn’t get any more direct than that.
“Looking for a great way to shave your head in 90 seconds… with no nicks or cuts?”
This is a classic BIG BENEFIT without THINGS YOU HATE headline.
And they really hit the pain points of every bald man out there. If you’ve ever shaved your head, you’ve cut yourself.
The fact that you can shave your entire head and not experience any of that literal pain… and get the entire process done in 90 seconds is just ‘a dream come true solution.’
Then, they continue:
“Check out the all new Pitbull by Skull Shaver.”
Introduce the product. And let people know that it’s new. People love new things.
“It’s water resistant, so you can shave wet or dry.”
That handles that question/objection people might have. And delivers another awesome benefit… versatility and choice.
“And it has flexible contouring blades so that you’ll get the smoothest shave possible. Guys… no nicks, no cuts.”
So let’s examine this sentence.
This is a feature/benefit bullet.
It has [FEATURE OF PRODUCT], so you can [EXPERIENCE BENEFIT].
This is classic direct response copywriting right here. Great stuff.
“You can shave anytime, anywhere… wet or dry. And be done in 90 seconds.
Let’s examine what was happening on the screen…
THIS part of the ad really drove the point home.
Again, we have a dramatic demonstration.
This guy is at work, in a collared shirt… NOT EVEN PAYING ATTENTION.
Could you imagine trying to bic your head with a straight razor, while at work, reading some shit, in your nice clothes, not focusing on what you’re doing?
That’s literally insane.
But with this product… you can do all that.
Finally, it ends with a call to action:
“Check out the all new Pitbull at Skull Shaver dot com.”
They sent you directly to their site so you could buy right now. Which, actually might have been difficult because my wife and I both tried to look at the site, but the servers crashed and we couldn’t even access it.
They had THAT much traffic from that ad.
Great job, Skull Shaver.
Nice. Clean. Simple advertising. Awesome product. Awesome demonstration. Solves a real problem in a lot of guys’ lives.
And before I forget, there were two more things I forgot to mention about this ad…
They named this product The Pitbull. Awesome name. Very masculine. And we all probably know a big tough bald guy who owns a pitbull or two.
Maybe they knew people would make this association.
Every dude wants to be big and tough. This mental link might have influenced the naming of this product… I can’t really be sure. Or, maybe it just sounds awesome. Either way, they did a great job.
This ad also had what I like to call “Old School Virality.”
Meaning: it went viral offline.
We watched this on a commercial on the television… and then all immediately turned to, texted or called the first bald person we thought ot.
My brother just started shaving his head. And I texted him.
How many times did that exact scenario play out in households across America last night?
Multiply this situation x 1,000,000 at the very least.
They only ran one spot the entire Super Bowl. But damn… I can’t wait to see their sales growth from that ad buy.
***The Agency of record for Skull Shaver is AVC Media Group. Check them out here.***
Gold Medal: Bud Light “Special Delivery”
Remember when you took the SATs and you had to do all those analogies?
__ is to __ as __ is to __.
Tom Brady is to Football as Bud Light is to Super Bowl commercials.
Bud Light is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world for beer advertisements. I will fight you if you say otherwise.
Let’s take a look at their latest masterpiece…
So here’s the secret to Bud Light’s success with this campaign.
First, these commercials are funny as shit. They really are. I laugh when I see them. The acting is great. They have funny one-liners that make fun of pretentious alcohol drinkers.
They just make you laugh.
Second, they grab attention with their obvious Game of Thrones style setting and pseudo-storylines. It’s the most popular show on TV for a reason.
Whatever that reason is doesn’t really matter to Bud Light. But they recognize that people go apeshit over GOT, so they modeled the concept to ride that wave of popularity. Very smart.
They too are developing this concept of long-form storytelling and a serialized story arc in a mass medium. Every commercial is another installment in the story.
They have trained you to pay attention to their ads because you not only wanna know what happens next… you don’t want to miss the next part in the story.
This is fucking brilliant.
These ads don’t feel like an ad at all.
When you watch the commercials, they feel like a 30-second episode of GOT, if GOT was funny and about beer.
In this commercial, they’re traveling with the corn syrup… stopping at different castles… sailing on a boat while getting attacked by a giant squid. This is in stark contrast to Skull Shaver.
These commercials literally transport you into another reality, one that’s a lot more fun and interesting than the one you’re currently living in.
Let’s not discount the importance of this strategy.
Another great thing they did is they made cemented their position as ‘the transparent and honest’ beer company.
Their whole Special Delivery ad concept is based around this story of getting a delivery of corn syrup that they have to return to the other guys… who actually use that bad stuff in their beer.
We, as a society, have become very aware of the dangers of sugar and corn syrup thanks to a lot of other health campaigns, diet research, and PSAs.
Bud Light knew this.
They introduced something called an “undeniable truth” about the superiority of their product.
The next time you go to a liquor store when you’re deciding between Bud, Miller or Coors… you’re going to grab the Bud.
How do you lie to yourself and try to rationalize the idea that the beer with the corn syrup is going to be better for you than the Bud Light… which we now all know has more “clean and pure” ingredients?
They have planted a seed of doubt into your brain. You’re going to feel a little weird the next time someone hands you a Miller or Coors.
My only question now is…
How will Miller and Coors respond?
This commercial wasn’t just a shot across the bow — this was a direct hit!
Bud Light punched them both right in the mouth. I hope we see a gutter war.
They did a great job.
And they made me actually regret not getting Bud Light to watch the game.
I don’t think I’ll be making that mistake again.
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