Much like football itself, Super Bowl ads are a storied American tradition. The stories, feelings, and, yes, celebrities that show up offer a peek into our national psyche at a given moment in time. (Or at least they want to think they do.) But this year’s Super Bowl ads did something different—they showcased how ad agencies themselves are thinking about the future. For Super Bowl 50, the style and substance of the ads proved that advertisers know their spots have to live on far beyond TV.
Many of the ads looked like they were made to work in multiple mediums, with the sound on or off.
After all, you see ads crop up everywhere: on the web, on your phone, and IRL. Ad agencies know that. They also know that you were probably looking at your phone for parts of the game last night (and for much of your life, otherwise). On Facebook, 60 million people joined conversations about Super Bowl 50 last night. Others tweeted throughout the game about #puppymonkeybaby or, well, poo. Advertisers want to find you (and capture your attention) wherever you might be.
That’s why this year some Super Bowl ads seemed self-conscious of the fact that they need to work everywhere. Sure, Super Bowl ads have been previewed online ahead of the Super Bowl in the past few years. And, yes, social media has been key for getting the message out for a while now. But many of the ads on TV last night looked like they were made to work in multiple mediums, with the sound on or off, and with your full attention or a few partial glances. Ad agencies are getting creative with substance and with style to make sure they don’t miss you wherever you are.
It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad Super Bowl
While every ad last night didn’t look like it was created with your phone addiction in mind, a few stand out as especially stunning examples of how the style, storytelling, and structure of certain ads are affected by the way agencies know we will view them (that is, not necessarily on TV).
Take, for example, Jeep’s ad featuring black-and-white photographs of recognizable American icons, including the Jeep. On a regular widescreen TV, the photographs have a black border on each side. That looks fine. The photos, after all, are vertical shots, or have been cropped to look like it. But, open the video on your phone in full-screen? The faces almost fill your phone completely, leaving a small black bar on the top and bottom where the YouTube play controls might be.
Coke’s ad, on the other hand, looks great on a big TV. It’s a high quality spot with special effects, featuring the Hulk chasing Ant-Man, all very much worthy of Coke’s history of famous ads.
But, according to Ad Age, there’s more to the spot than meets the eye (initially). Within the ad, Coke has hidden clues on how to buy limited edition Coke Mini cans emblazoned with Marvel characters. In one part of the ad, for example, Ad Age notes that HiddenMini.com is written in graffiti—a first step for fans hoping to buy the special edition Coke Minis. Fans will then have to tweet about Coke Minis in order to win the cans.
Regardless of whether you buy the gimmick, Coke is using its Super Bowl moment as a stepping stone for its social campaign—and, in the process, encouraging repeat viewing of the ad, at least for die-hard fans.
Meanwhile, several ads last night featured a whole lot of text. That’s somewhat surprising if you consider that a Super Bowl commercial break is a good time to, say, use the bathroom, get another beer, or refill the chip bowl. Text, unlike sound, requires your full attention. That seems like a pretty big mistake. But there’s one place where text-heavy ads make a whole lot of sense. That place where you don’t have the sound on—or don’t want to hear pesky ads. You know, like when you’re scrolling through Facebook on your phone, where videos—including ads—silently auto-play. What you can’t hear you might still read.
Advil’s spot, for example, seems to be the epitome of an ad that would work equally well on TV or on Facebook. The spot has a typical TV-ad voiceover that tells Advil’s story. It has quick cuts with some weird camera angles of people performing a range of physical activities, like an elderly woman doing an impressive yoga pose and a man breakdancing on the street.
But the spot also makes perfect sense with the sound off. The video clips still work. Plus Advil’s logo is prominently showcased in the first few seconds of the spot. And throughout, words—big, bold, colorful words—pop up on the screen in time with the voiceover. (“Nothing Works Faster, Nothing Works Longer, World’s #1 Choice.”) You get the message no matter how you watch it (or for how long).
Read More at: Wired