Professional critics, industry experts, colleagues and even students all agree that this year’s collection of SuperBowl ads was OK but not great. It’s unlikely that five or 10 years from now that anything will remain on a best of list. Sure, #bestbuds will rank among the better of the Clydesdale spots. VW’s wings will sit somewhere above last year’s Get Happy but below 2012’s Darth Vader. Tebow and Colbert and maybe Ellen will make it onto the top 100 celebrity-based Superbowl ad lists if there ever is one.
It’s even possible there’s an ad that might actually make it into the text books — not necessarily an endorsement of greatness — and that’s Hyundai’s Genesis, as it found an incredibly simple and clever way to actually convey a genuine attribute of the car: auto emergency breaking.
But there was no Apple “1984.” No Monster.com “When I grow up.” More on the reason why in another post. But there was one brilliant campaign. It was all about Super Bowl advertising, but it never appeared on the Super Bowl. And that would be Newcastle’s “If We Made It” campaign from Droga 5.
Droga 5, in its continuation of the No Bollocks positioning, turned the brand’s lack of $4 million for a thirty-second spot into a full-blown web-based viral campaign. There was a website, teaser ads, a pissed off Anna Kendrick — she lost her chance to be a highly-paid, highly-visible, steamy hot beer ad babe and let us know about it in a hysterical video — and last but not least, game-day story board versions of the ads that did run. Granted they don’t have nearly as many views as the Anna Kendrick video, but they are pretty funny.
The idea of leveraging context is, perhaps, a new marketing and advertising frontier. Wheat Thins and Old Spice gave us early social media creative executions. TNT, Coca Cola and a host of other brands have familiarized us with the viral stunt. But ever since Oreo stirred the stream with their dunk in the dark execution, context has become the new medium. Century 21 does it perfectly with zero dollars. But If We Made It nudges the bar up even higher.
Inevitably we’ll see plenty of brands trying to copy this idea or create a variation on it. Just as we saw dozens of brands and their agencies trying to replicate Oreo. The question is what will be next that’s this original and executed as well.
My guess is that more agency creative leaders will be thinking about how to do something this fresh next year than how to match any of the actual spots. And five years from now, we’ll be talking about this campaign, not unlike how we still talk about the Old Spice Twitter campaign years after it surprised us. A reminder that there may be lots of companies with big enough budgets to buy the Super Bowl, but not as many creative ideas worthy of filling those :30 second slots.