When the Super Bowl airs tomorrow night, the big game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers won’t be the only thing worth watching. Like every year, there will be plenty of talk about the ads, which companies are willing to spend big bucks on. The estimated $5 million per 30-second expenditure will help many companies make their mark with a national audience, while others will flop.
So here’s a look at 7 ads to watch during Super Bowl 50.
What is Budweiser up to?
One brand owns the Super Bowl more than any other: Budweiser. Every year, the brand’s Clydesdale horses appear in at least one commercial. It is usually a heart-warming commercial that people love. Three years ago, Budweiser ran a story of a foal growing up and leaving the farm. Last year, the spot featured an adorable puppy saved from a pack of wolves by its Clydesdale friends.
This year, AB InBev (BUD) seems to be taking a very different approach, with an aggressive, competitive spot for Budweiser. Budweiser is standing tall, despite competition from new entrants and the brand isn’t apologizing for its history or size.
Will the brand run a classic Clydesdale spot, too? How will people respond to this new tonality?
Will Mountain Dew’s puppy-monkey-baby upset you?
For the first time since 2000, Mountain Dew will be advertising on the Super Bowl this year. The brand will run a spot featuring a rather disturbing puppy-monkey-baby character.
Dew’s creation is a combination of the E Trade baby, the Career Builder monkey and the Budweiser puppy. The character is a combination of three great things, just as Mountain Dew Kickstart is a combination of three great things: Mountain Dew, juice and caffeine.
This spot will stand-out. The question is will it be because it was particularly likable or particularly upsetting?
Will Fiat-Chrysler surprise us?
Fiat-Chrysler, the auto giant that owns brands including Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Maserati, has embraced a unique strategy for the Super Bowl over the years. The company releases nothing in advance, not even telling people if it is running a spot or not. During the game, it runs dramatic ads that stand out for creativity and impact.
The strategy has produced some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads in recent years, including the Ram trucks “Farmer” spot in 2014, the Clint Eastwood “Halftime” commercial ad in 2012 and Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” ad in 2011.
This year, Fiat-Chrysler has again said nothing. Which brings up the question: what are they planning? Will there be a spot? For which brand?
Who wins: Honda or Hyundai?
Two car brands are using a very similar creative approach this year: develop a cute commercial and link it to a specific product feature. Honda (HMCO) has singing sheep to feature truck bed music in its new Ridgeline. Hyundai (KRX) has talk-start in the Elantra. Which brand did a better job?
This is the same creative approach that VW took with is memorable and highly-acclaimed Vader spot in 2011.
Will Sofi be too judge-y?
One of the newest companies to advertise this year is Sofi, a lender that targets financially responsible people with exceptionally low rates. The Sofi spot asks a simple question: great or not great?
The ad is light-hearted and entertaining; it communicates its basic proposition: that Sofi provides low rates to high-quality borrowers.
Still, there is a risk people will be somewhat offended by the overt judging. Some people don’t want to be reminded that when it comes to financial matters, they really aren’t so great.
Can Death Wish keep up?
Death Wish coffee, a small company in upstate New York, won the QuickBooks Small Company-Big Game contest. So the 11-person firm will have an ad on the Super Bowl.
The issue: if the ad really works, Death Wish will get a surge of orders. Can the company keep up with the demand? Will the website crash? Longer term, will people come back and order again?
This is a huge opportunity for Death Wish but it will only work if they can handle the demand.
Tim Calkins is a clinical professor of marketing at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. To learn more about the Kellogg School Super Bowl Ad Review, visit here.