Super Bowl Ads 2020: The Good, The Bad and The ROI Driving Geniuses

Another year of highly anticipated Super Bowl ads have come and gone and as ROI obsessed marketers, we often find ourselves critiquing Every. Single. One. This year there are a few amazing spots that really stood out and several that have us still scratching our heads and asking, “Why would they do that?”

The Good/Great

  1. Google – No one wants to shed a tear during the big game unless their team makes the win! But, Google had us crying in our hot wings with their “Loretta” ad concept. The simple ad showcases an elderly man who uses his Google Assistant to help remember his wife who recently passed away – photos, things she once said, etc.

Why it works: First and foremost, the ad was authentic! It tells the story of a real man (a Google employee’s father) and how he is using technology to help remember the little things about his wife that made him happy. The ad also works to show viewers an innovative way to use Google and the services it provides – in a way that we may have not considered. Its simplicity helped the brand cut through the slew of celebrity-laden spots and get people to stop and pay attention, which equals Advertising Gold, in our book.

  1. Hyundai – You don’t have to be from Bean Town to love a good Boston accent, or Hyundai, for that matter. The car company’s “Smaht Pahk” campaign was another example of a true advertising win due a variety of factors.

Why it works: Three words – funny celebrities and originality. The ad features (Chris Evans and John Krasinski, comedian Rachel Dratch and former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz) springing into a accented conversation over whether Krasinski will be able to “pahk” his Hyundai Sonata in a tight spot — rattling off landmarks like the Boston “hahbah” and the Boston “gahden.” It’s funny, very original and makes you want to say “Smaht Pahk” repeatedly. Funny repetition often equals brand awareness for years to come, which is the ultimate goal of any company spending money on Super Bowl ads.

  1. Hulu – Just when we thought we may have seen the last of Tom Brady (and his beautiful face), he teams up with streaming giant Hulu to prove us wrong. After posting a very cryptic Instagram photo of a shadowy figure walking in an empty stadium tunnel, so many of us were wondering whether the greatest quarterback of all time was preparing to hang up his cleats after 20 seasons, 14 Pro Bowl selections and six Super Bowl titles. Fear not!

Tom Brady Hulu AdWhy it works: The anticipation that fans and Brady-haters all seem to have about his next steps were palpable. Would he retire? Would be come back? The ad starts with Brady saying, “They say all good things must come to an end, that the best just know when to walk away,” OMG! He’s retiring… Say it isn’t so! But then he chimes in…  “So to my teammates, my family and most of all, my fans, you deserve to hear this from me. Hulu doesn’t just have live sports. “It’s time to say goodbye to TV as you know it. But me? I’m not going anywhere.” Football crisis averted! The amazing good looks of the G.O.A.T, combined with suspense and innovative creative made everyone stop, turn up the volume and listen. What more could you ask for when you’re spending $5.2 million on a:30 TV spot?

The “Why Would You Do That?”

  1. Avocados from Mexico – Guacamole is a main staple for just about everyone during the big game. And that’s the problem… we already know about Avocados… and we’ve already purchased them by the time we see the ad.

Why it was a fail: 13.2 million pounds of avocados are consumed by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday! If driving sales and brand awareness is the aim of an ad campaign, the Avocado Commission was far too late to the party on this one. We’re also at loss on the overall creative concept – Molly Ringwald as a pitchwoman for the fictional “Avocado’s from Mexico” Shopping Network. If you’re going to be spending that much money on advertising, get to the consumer BEFORE they buy your product, not immediately after.

  1. Pop-Tarts Fixed the PretzelApparently the snack world is in peril as there seems to be something wrong with the pretzel! Who knew? We sure didn’t! And even if there was something wrong with pretzels, the last brand we’d go to for a fix would be Pop-Tarts!

Why it was a fail: Not sure where to start on this one. Jonathan Van Ness as the spokesperson, the creative, the super cheesy premise and corny writing, have us convinced this ad was a giant waste of ad dollars.

  1. Bloomberg & Trump Ads – Americans watch the Super Bowl to be entertained, to escape from reality for a few hours, to eat, drink and be merry.

Why it was a fail: Nothing says “BUZZKILL” like negative political ads. Keep it quiet until we get closer to voting time.

The ROI Driving Genius

  1. Planters Baby Peanut – The best ad campaigns are just that – campaigns! They work in a variety of different channels to drive brand awareness AND ROI. Last month, the company announced that they were killing off their beloved Mr. Peanut mascot that had been in use for more 100 years. Consumers were shocked! And now everyone was talking about Planters.

Why it works: Because the PR machine was already a buzz due to the death of Mr. Peanut, the brand was still very top-of-mind with consumers. The “Baby Peanut” ad started off with other brand mascots at the funeral of Mr. Peanut and then… baby peanut arrives! Now there is a very cute NEW mascot that consumers want to know more about. So much so that 8k people are currently watching the live twitter stream of baby peanut sleeping in his nursery. WOW! PR + great ads + a solid social media strategy = more ROI than you know what to do with.