Super Bowl Campaign Review: Jeep relives Groundhog Day, Google tugs at the heartstrings and the celebrity cameos that didn’t pay off

Google, Amazon, Budweiser, Jeep, Pringles, Olay, Porsche and Facebook. The biggest and most-talked-about ads of the 2020 Super Bowl were offered up to Wunderman Thompson's Annie Price and Host Havas' Olly Taylor in this special edition of Campaign Review.

Brand: Facebook
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Portland
The verdict: Investing in Sylvester Stallone was not worth it

Annie Price, creative director at Wunderman Thompson, says: 

“First things first, Sly Stallone isn’t looking so good these days – gave me a bit of a shock, can’t believe he’s 74.

“Regarding the rest of this spot, it’s nicely shot and there are a couple of funny moments, but I’m not desperate to watch it again and although I hear Facebook Groups are the brand’s big play for 2020 and it’s a strategy to draw people back, it does feel a bit like saying ‘Guess what? Bread now comes sliced’ – it’s not really ‘new news’. I question how successful this will be for them and I’m not sure the three seconds of old Sly was worth the investment.”

Rating: 5/10

Olly Taylor, chief strategy officer at Host Havas, says:

“When your brand and reason for being are being questioned, reminding people the positive role you do play makes for a sensible strategy.

“Going from connecting to people you know to connecting with people who share your interest, however niche, is a good strategic development. Creatively, not sure this execution breaks any [ground], but [it] could have passed for good responsible brand building work until Sly turns up and then you are reminded just how middle-aged the brand has become.”

Rating: 6/10 strategically. 5/10 creatively

Brand: Google
Agency: In-house
The verdict: Stunning storytelling

Price says:

“I choked up and had to reach for the tissues. This is a beautiful, touching and deftly handled spot. I particularly love that the production budget would have been bugger-all. It’s like a stunningly crafted radio commercial with minimal added visuals that enhance the storytelling. The timbre of the man’s voice and the timing is perfection.

“Strategically it’s wonderful to see Google position themselves so differently and using such emotion – it’s unexpected for them. What I love most is that we are left hanging and it’s not all neatly tied up for us like most ads. Is Loretta still with us? I really hope so. Either way, I find this very a powerful spot and I like Google for it.”

Rating: 9/10

Taylor says:

“Google’s strategy of showing its emotional impact on everyday life serves to humanise the brand well. They have rightly been pursuing it for a while. A man with dementia using Google to remember his wife should, on paper, have you in tears. Somehow in reality the execution lacks some emotion, especially when you compare this to how well Apple executed a similar strategy for iPad at Christmas. Overall, not their best execution in what is undoubtedly a good long-term campaign.”

Rating: 7/10 strategically, 6/10 creatively

Brand: Amazon
Agency: Droga 5
The verdict: Celebrity cameos didn’t pay off

Price says: 

“Big production values, big budget. A ‘proper big ad’ well directed and entertaining. It’s not often you hear the words ‘a witch stole his pants’ in an ad, so props for the scriptwriting.

“But personally, I don’t think Ellen and Portia were necessary celebrity endorsements and believe the spot would have worked just as well with unknowns. I guess the budget was so big, they thought ‘what the heck?’

“It’s strategically sound and well-made, but I’m not rushing to replay it.”

Rating: 6/10

Taylor says:

“This has all the scale you want in a Super Bowl spot. It’s creatively engaging, even epic, especially in comparison to Google, but strategically I’m a bit lost. Was life better or worse before Alexa? It certainly looked less boring. Sometimes a big budget and celebrities can’t disguise a lack of strategy. But hey, it’s the Super Bowl.”

Rating: 3/10 strategically. 6/10 creatively

Brand: Jeep
Agency: High Dive
The verdict: Brilliant

Price says:

“This is gold. For a start it’s got Bill Murray. And what’s not to love about Bill Murray? Then there a groundhog with a teeny, tiny, groundhog sized helmet that Bill Murray taps on (I love that bit). And then the groundhog does all these other amazing things. And then it’s strapped to Bill Murray like a baby?! It doesn’t get better than this. Every single moment is delicious. It’s beautifully scripted, beautifully performed and I can’t get enough.

“Lastly, the end line ‘Have the day of your life over and over again’ is testament to a theory I’ve always subscribed to – really great positioning lines do not have to be short.”

Rating: 10/10

Taylor says:

“This is brilliant. The strategy of ‘break the everyday’ isn’t new but the idea of turning Groundhog Day on its head is a masterpiece. A good example of when good strategy and good creative combine to make great work. The pick of the bunch.”

Rating: 7/10 strategically. 9/10 creatively

Brand: Porsche
Agency: Cramer-Krasselt
The verdict: A great car ad that could have gone an extra step

Price says:

“Without a doubt, this is a beautifully made car ad. But it hasn’t got Bill Murray or a groundhog in it.”

Rating: 7/10

Taylor says:

“Just feels familiar in many ways. Entertaining enough, but Porsche launching an electric car should warrant more breakthrough work than this, both strategically and creatively.”

Rating: 5/10 strategically. 5/10 creatively

Brand: Pringles
Agency: Grey
The verdict: Celebrity cameos done differently and well

Price says:

“I’m not a Rick and Morty fan, so I didn’t think I’d like this, but I did. Great to see celebrity cameos done differently and refreshing to see animation amongst all the other super slick, filmic Super Bowl productions. I love the abrupt ending. And kudos to the brand for not subscribing to the usual ‘appetite appeal’ conventions. I’d like to see where they take the Rick and Morty collaboration next.”

Rating: 7/10

Taylor says:

“In the genre of mad snack Super Bowl ads, this is pedigree. It’s not designed to be deconstructed and nor should it be. That it actually carries quite a functional message is amazing. Hard not to like, remember and even admire the madness.”

Rating: 5/10 strategically. 9/10 creatively

Brand: Olay
Agency: Badger & Winters
The verdict: A serious message in an ad that’s hard to take seriously

Price says:

“I found this film a bit disingenuous when the intent was quite the opposite, I’m sure. I admire Olay’s commitment to donate to Girls Who Code with the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen, but I feel the film falls short and it’s hard to take it seriously.

“I feel sorry for Nicole Stott the astronaut, as I get the distinct sense she wants to get off that fake spaceship and get back to her real job. For me, a really important initiative just gets a bit lost amongst pretty average performances, a giant red Olay button and a rocket built to look like a skincare bottle.”

Rating: 5/10

Taylor says:

“Olay backing Girls Who Code sort of makes sense. Unfortunately, this ad does not make any sense at all. Adding some light-heartedness to the gender conversation is a step on but in doing so perhaps they cloud the good initiative with unnecessary superficiality. A gamble that didn’t pay off?”

Rating: 4/10 strategically. 5/10 creatively

Brand: Budweiser
Agency: David Miami
The verdict: Hard to fault

Price says:

“I admire Budweiser’s bandwidth. They’ve done funny really well in the past and they clearly do earnest well too. A wise move by the brand to show a different side to the Yanks and tug on the heart strings, putting the spotlight on ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

“It’s lofty for a beer brand, but I think they pull it off. It’s quite an old-school winning formula: A strong monologue, gritty footage and an emotive track. And I think it’s a winning strategy too, considering the current climate and the utter madness of world events right now. I have no doubt this will sell a lot of beer and Budweiser will enjoy being the poster child for a more authentic America.”

Rating: 8/10

Taylor says:

“Outside of the Super Bowl this might be a bit grating and self-indulgent, but during the Super Bowl, which is peak USA, it’s pitch perfect. Making heroes of the mainstream is something only truly iconic brands can do and whilst creatively it doesn’t deviate far from that formula, Budweiser brings it home in spades. As a piece of Super Bowl comms that plays to what the Super Bowl audience wants, it’s hard to fault.”

Rating: 8/10 strategically. 8/10 creatively

  • As told to Zoe Wilkinson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email zoew@mumbrella.com.au

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