If you’re like many Americans, you’ve been scouring the Internet for sources of the best—and worst—Super Bowl commercials and found dozens of articles and opinions. At Brand Engineers, we wanted to shed a different light on some of the commercials that aired during the game. Two critical factors to brand success are the ability to develop an emotional connection with your customers and the ability to show differentiation from your competitors. Sunday night, we saw a number of commercials that succeeded on both fronts.

 

Top 5 Emotional Spots:

 

Nationwide Insurance: Make Safe Happen

This ad is easily the most controversial of this year’s set of Super Bowl ads, but the way it tugs at your heartstrings is also what makes it so powerful. Nationwide managed to show images, despite being blurred by your tears, that helped you see the importance not only of having the right insurance, but having the right preparation to ensure that accidents don’t happen. While this ad has been met with much dissent, the fact remains that Nationwide developed an emotional connection to millions of users in such a way that made their brand stand out.

 

Nissan: With Dad

 Nissan gets high marks not only for sentimental value, but also for sticking to the imagery of the “innovation that excites” campaign that they’ve been running. By creating a dad who is a Nissan racecar driver, they show off their innovative engineering as a part of the story. The story comes together at the end when we see him driving the consumer version of the Nissan Sentra. The implication? If it’s a car a professional driver chooses, it’s a car you should consider as well. Nissan succeeded at driving home a relevant emotional connection while furthering their brand.

 

Dove Men + Care: #RealStrength

It seems like this batch of commercials were all about dads. Typically, we view a man’s strength as his physical ability, but Dove clearly links a man’s strength to his ability to “Care,” tugging the heartstrings and making our eyes well up in the process. This emotional connection intends to displace a common misconception about men, and link Dove to men who care. Dove Men + Care is more than just a body wash, it’s a brand that allows your inner strength to show.

 

Always: #LikeAGirl

This ad may be a bit more of a PSA than a traditional product commercial, but the impact of its message may be felt across the world. The focus is the great impact the words and phrases we use can have on those we interact with and the importance of ensuring we are “Always” sending the right messages.

 

NFL: No More

A much needed PSA coming from the NFL themselves to help repair their status with the public. Based on a true story, this PSA shows the impact of domestic violence and how important it is for us to understand the impact and the role we need to play as a society to help the victims. The NFL has been under a lot of fire recently, and what better place for them to begin to repair a tarnished reputation. 

 

Top 5 Competitive Spots:

 

Budweiser: Brewed the Hard Way

Microbreweries have taken over the American beer market. Budweiser is the first of the macro companies to take this societal shift head-on in a direct way through advertising. The premise is to further define customer segments in the beer market by pointing out that microbrews aren’t for everyone. In their latest commercial, Budweiser is happy to separate those who choose microbrews and those who choose Budweiser. Taking a position of straight forward, unadulterated beer-taste, Budweiser points out that the typical microbrewery has some sort of pumpkin-peach concoction on the menu, Budweiser will always have the same, traditional taste. And that’s just right for a lot of people.

 

T-Mobile: Data Vulture and Kim’s Data Stash

The mobile wars go on as T-Mobile continues to take on Verizon and AT&T with a strong competitive focus. While T-Mobile isn’t the only wireless provider to offer some type of data rollover plan, they are the first to define it as their primary point of differentiation—and to the biggest audience of the year, no less. Both of these ads harness the sense of unfairness people feel when their data usage changes from month-to-month and they are hit with overage fees without consideration of the data left unused in prior months. T-Mobile showed that there is a better way and looks to siphon away those customers who are data-intense and looking for alternatives to the inflexible market leaders.

 

Sprint: Sprint’s Super Apology

In continuation of their price wars against Verizon and AT&T, Sprint took a humorous approach in their “apology” for misrepresenting their competitors. Humor aside, the ad highlighted the compelling differentiator for Sprint: the fact that they are significantly cheaper than the big two. Unlike T-Mobile, which focused on data as the central theme of their differentiation, Sprint has made their point of differentiation price, pure and simple. One can argue with the pros and cons of a strict pricing strategy in this category, but Sprint is going after it unabashedly.

 

Grubhub: Because Burrito

Grubhub’s competitive set is traditional food delivery service, and they literally knock the competition out in this humorous ad. Many people still turn to the telephone to order food for delivery, and Grubhub continues to take on this tradition with their mobile and online ordering options. Grubhub is looking to redefine in-home food delivery and own the shift.

 

WeightWatchers: All You Can Eat

The primary competitor here is perception. In America, we have an “all you can eat” mentality that is infectious to people attempting to lose weight. With WeightWatchers, you can better combat the everyday messages that tempt you to lose track of your goals. Without directly taking on other weight loss supplements or regimens, WeightWatchers still shows a competitive edge by tackling the biggest road block to losing weight: the rest of the world. This mentality is clearly felt by a segment of Americans and is often their biggest barrier to weight loss. By focusing on this perception as its main competition, WeightWatchers drives home a connection to their target segment that makes them stand above their competition without the need to mention them.

 

For a comprehensive look at how the rankings shook out for the top commercials, click here.
For a complete list of all the commercials that aired during the Super Bowl, click here.
 

 

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