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Super Bowl Commercials: Tide Cleans Up, Alexa Speaks

4 min read

Tide scored nearly a clean sweep, Alexa’s voice came through for Amazon and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice was hijacked by Dodge Ram.

Those verdicts came from Arkansas marketing pros assessing TV commercials from last week’s Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. Oh, by the way, there was a football game to frame the ads. The Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33.

“I wasn’t expecting much out of the game, but Philadelphia made it one of the best Super Bowls ever,” said Ross Cranford of Cranford Co. in Little Rock. “The Tide ads were some of the best Super Bowl ads, too.”

The detergent brand cast David Harbour, the actor who played the police chief on the Netflix horror smash “Stranger Things,” in a series of commercials that inserted him into what appeared to be ads for other products. The Saatchi & Saatchi New York campaign, “It’s a Tide Ad,” hinged on the idea that any Super Bowl commercial featuring people in spotless clothes might be a plug for Tide.

The effect had Chip Culpepper of Mangan Holcomb Partners “watching every other ad wondering if it was about to be hijacked.” Another Chip, Chip Paris of Paris Marketing & Public Relations in Fort Smith, said the brand showed its “willingness to own the space for the night and stitch itself into every other ad category at the same time by acknowledging Super Bowl advertising itself.” Cranford noted that Tide was “even able to cross-promote other Procter & Gamble products, too, by breaking into their commercials.”

The other top scorer with Arkansas marketers was “Alexa Loses Her Voice” from Lucky Generals and Amazon agency D1. That spot used celebrities like Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, Anthony Hopkins and Cardi B as fill-ins for Alexa, the Amazon Echo “intelligent personal assistant” who loses her voice at the beginning of the commercial.

“Amazon and Tide won the Super Bowl with these spots,” according to a panel of experts from Stone Ward in Little Rock: Executive Creative Director Jeffrey Nodelman, Creative Director Danny Koteras, Senior Copywriter Jay Stanley and Art Director Chris Kindrick. “Tide was by far the winner of the night, even bringing back Isaiah Mustafa [the shirtless horseman famed for his Old Spice commercials] … In Amazon’s cameo-filled ad we heard other celebrities try to fill Alexa’s shoes and hilariously fail.”

The biggest loser on Super Sunday was Ram’s “Service” ad, which used a recording of one of Rev. King’s sermons as its voice-over. Reaction on the internet was fierce, with many posts pointing out that another section of the sermon specifically chastised advertisers for persuading people to buy automobiles they couldn’t afford.

“I was disappointed that Ram commercialized Martin Luther King’s iconic speech to sell trucks,” said Pam Jones of Culturally Connected Communications of Little Rock. She said the speech was meant to inspire Americans to seek greatness through service and love. “To end that ad with ‘Built to Serve, Ram,’ is just not the same thing.” Paris and Culpepper also ranked the Ram ad as the greatest misfire, a fate that Jones said could have been avoided. “I think a simple salute to MLK in the spot, without the sales pitch, would have done wonders.” Highdive, a relatively new boutique firm in Chicago, created the ad.

Culpepper praised Verizon’s tribute to first responders as “beautifully done” and “wonderfully simple,” employing the stirring conversations of real people thanking the folks who saved their lives. Paris, Stone Ward and David Martin of Martin-Wilbourn Partners in Little Rock also applauded an Australia tourism ad that masqueraded as a trailer for a “Crocodile Dundee” sequel starring Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride.

Martin said that with airtime going for $5 million for 30 seconds, the stakes were huge for advertisers. “Trying to be both entertaining and effective in the eyes of 100 million-plus viewers is perhaps the wrong metric of success,” he said. “Entertainment is much easier to measure … even if no one remembers your company or product.”

The Stone Ward team praised E-Trade’s “This Is Getting Old” ad, which focused on workers forced to keep their jobs long into retirement age, and Bud Light’s “Bud Knight” campaign, which brought you “dilly dilly.”

Don’t be surprised if Bud Light stretches the phrase soon with a nod to the winning Eagles.

So cheers, and Philly Philly.

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