Super Bowl Ads – The Morning After

As a light football fan, I’m one of those PR/marketing folks who watches the big game for the ads.  It started during my first job after college at DDB Needham Advertising.  As a newbie in the ad scene, I’d “yes ma’am” and “no sir” all day to the many levels of management above me as I scurried between departments, toting creative storyboards, thick research reports, and media analyses.  But the night of the Super Bowl, our class of Assistant Account Executives got to sit around bowls of salty chips and pizza and play CEO as we analyzed the creative genius (or lack therof) of the ad debuts.

A few (ahem) years later, I still relish watching the ads through a PR & marketing lens, easy to do from the sofa, of course, but a really fun sport nonetheless!

So, here are a few of my “aha moments” from last night, and I can’t even grace Christina Aguilera’s mishap during the National Anthem with a bullet point- note to self, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!  Moving on…

1.  The half-time show was great, but what happened with the sound system? The Black Eyed Peas and Fergie, along with their huge team of lit-up dancers were GREAT!  I especially loved the heart shaped groups that really looked like beating hearts.  But…did anyone else notice the sound quality?  It’s a lot of prep to be struggling with volume…

2.  Salty Snacks – a leading role. Lots of ads for salty snacks — unless they start home delivery, we were already fully stocked — not sure the ads increased our desire to run to the store between breaks to buy more…I wonder…

3. Animals and kids still sell…bigtime!  This is one of those advertising cliches — if you want to touch the heart, throw one or both in the creative mix.  The pug running down the door to get the Doritos was hysterical (and rumored to be produced for $500, although some are disputing how likely that really is); the emotional moment between the beaver and car driver (where are my Kleenex?); and the double whammy, the Darth Vader kid, with a cameo by his resting dog…priceless!

4.  Speaking of Darth…caught the kid on The Today Show – he is an adorable 6-year-old who never saw Star Wars, but used his “power” to start the Volkswagen Passat (thanks to Dad’s automatic starter magic from the kitchen).  Great ad, and heartwarming story about the actor who was born with a congenital heart defect.  Effective ad seasoned with great PR by Deutsch Advertising, and…

5.  Enter social media.  My favorite tool in the box, many Super Bowl advertisers “leaked” their commercials in advance via YouTube, and the VW ad featuring Darth apparently had 8 million views PRIOR to the Superbowl.  (BTW – I just took a peek to add the link here, and they’re up to 16 million views…)  Genius!

As a PR exec who also runs a Mom Blog/Microbrand, I recently talked at our PR Consultants Group annual conference about Social Media, and shared that one of my favorite parts is being pitched by a huge variety of PR firms.  With two decades under my belt, it takes me all of two seconds to evaluate a pitch to decide if it’s on target for my site.  This one passed my desk minutes before I headed out for the Super Bowl, and it has the perfect combination of timing, relevance, a community angle, and some well-timed punch.  Dream Dinners hosted a “Supper Bowl” in Dallas, where the Superbowl was played, where wives of NFL football players battled it out in the kitchen to see who could make the most meals in an hour, with the meals going to the Ronald McDonald House.  They made more than 150 family (6-serving dinners), and the winning wives received $15,000 to support the children’s charities of their choice.  Here’s a photo:

This was such a great “combo meal” of messages, you truly forget the sponsor is selling ready-to-assemble meals.

What did you think of this year’s line-up?  Better than ever or just mediocre?  Add a comment to this post, and keep the chat going!

By Amy Kossoff Smith, President, Write Ideas, Inc., and Founder, The MomTini Lounge.  Smith is a 20-year PR exec with a specialty in retail PR & promotions for Fortune 500 companies.  She also launched The MomTini Lounge, a microbrand, and is a huge believer that social media and digital technologies are the best new tools in the box for both traditional and online media campaigns.

One Comment


I missed the national anthem fiasco, but suggest they have tryouts, like we have at the College World Series….I don’t ever remember anyone screwing it up there. Love the Supper Bowl idea. It deserves your attention for appropriateness. Agree on the dogs & kids. A sure thing for media attention. – DEb


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