Which Super Bowl 2017 Trends Have Popped So Far? (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday, we highlighted some of the Super Bowl trends we’ve seen so far ahead of Sunday’s big game. 

Today we explore a few more and dig into our predictions and what we’re hoping advertisers achieve at this year’s game. Let us know if you agree!

More Celebrities Off The Field

We are predicting another Super Bowl filled with advertisers using celebrities to drive attention… when they might be better served to reallocate those talent salaries to driving distribution instead.

In previous years, celebrities have proven to be both polarizing (e.g. T-Mobile ad’s poorly shared Kim Kardashian ad) and distracting (e.g. Clash of Clans and Chrysler’s brand recall bottomers with Liam Neeson and Bob Dylan overshadowed the products), and don’t drive sharing if the ad isn’t already strong.

However, the “right” celebrity can amplify attention and engagement – for example Peter Fonda’s appearance in Mercedes’ homage to Easy Rider adds an extra nostalgic nod to the spot and triggering this rare emotional response will help the automaker’s ad be memorable and pop from the clutter. The Steppenwolf soundtrack primes the viewer for nostalgia the second the ad starts.

Political Backlash

Will brands harness the zeitgeist and get political? We had the Bud Light Party back in 2016. This year we’ve seen Lumber 84 turned away for a spot about supplying raw materials for a border wall, while Budweiser is touting its immigrant founders stories.

Rather, we’re hoping we see a resurgence in cause marketing. Cyber bullying, diversity and domestic violence were present in 2015. Unilever’s #unstereotype and #womennotobjects hit hard last year.

Now with cause and #resist marches trending IRL throughout the US, the opportunity is ripe for brands to pick up the mantle and help unify a divided people like Coca-Cola did in 2014 with its ad It’s Beautiful. To be fair, cause ads often end up incensing people with opposite beliefs, but IMO this is still an indication of highlighting an issue and opening a dialog. Let’s hope brands are brave this year!

Romance And Bromance

Early videos from Skittles and Bud Light make it seem like love is in the air. Happiness and warmth are top US ad emotions, so for these brands’ ads to pop and be memorable post-broadcast and score an emotional touchdown, they’ll have to hit these with intensity!

Hopes and dreams for Super Bowl LI:

  • Hopefully brands get emotional, very emotional, and advertise like it’s 2013 or 2015. Last year’s big game was Super Bowl light – light on emotional intensity, lighthearted, and light on memorability. The ads that most come to mind are the ones that surprised us and stood out from the crowd. 2016’s Portraits, from Jeep, featured vertical video and stark black and white photographs overlaid with poetic words – reminiscent of Dodge Ram’s The Farmer, from 2013. Advertisers can pop from the clutter by triggering unusual emotions in people, and hitting them with intensity.  
  • Fear and expectations – more bland humor ads (only 10% of people found the ads in 2016 to actually be funny). But our optimistic side is hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Perhaps we’ll see the return of the storytelling of Brotherhood from Budweiser or the fun surprise of Bud Light’s Real-Life Pacman and Snickers’ The Brady Bunch.  
  • More memes please! Both cuts of T-Mobile and Drake’s “Hotline Bling” topped charts. Also from T-Mobile, Steve Harvey’s meme-rific parody slam of Verizon’s “Drop the Balls” ad was an amazing bit of agile marketing with a point of view. Mic Drop. We want to see more surprises and strong points of view from brands. Enough of bland, or weird for the sake of weird (Turbotax  and Avocados from Mexico). This approach works best when advertisers take the shock over the top – which takes chutzpah! The approval process tends not to favor chutzpah, but we’re still holding out hope that we get lucky on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Brands should use the platform tools and tech available and launch their ads widely to avoid coverage gaps. Back when Facebook launched its video format, Super Bowl advertisers didn’t adopt the additional tool in their tool kit en masse, and missed opportunities to harness the benefits of a wider, multi-platform distribution plan. The Snickers example shows live video making the cut. Will other new ad tools make the Super Bowl stage?
  • This is the first Big Game with Facebook Emojis at play. Brands will excel if they make eliciting strong emotions a KPI. Facebook emoji responses are one way to measure this. It’s been hard to cram all of humanity into 4 emojis, a heart and a like. Unruly tracks 18 psychological responses, so we know how many more expressions people have – from warmth to pride to shock and surprise. But tracking Facebook emoji use is a good start!

After the game, we’ll return with the top shared ads and a ranking of the top ads’ effectiveness scores.