The Egotist asked Indie Agencies from across the US to break down the best Super Bowl ads by category. Our final installment covers the Automotive and Financial Services categories. Thank you to the agency strategists and creatives who did their homework during Super Bowl parties and reported back to us. To read more about what moved our critics in the CPG category, check out our first story in this series. Our second installment included Beer, QSR and Food and Beverage Super Bowl ads.
Jeep Wins the Automotive Category
Alec Beckett, Creative Director, Nail Communications, Providence, Rhode Island thought the Super Bowl’s car ads were all over the map:
“From the over-the-top macho Mercedes drag race to the schmaltzy “buy a Hyundai unless you want children to get cancer.” Dodge couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be wacky, rock ‘n roll with their Viking spot (clearly an awkward edit after they didn’t make the Super Bowl) or earnest and deep with the questionable use of MLK to sell pickup trucks.
Toyota also seemed to be randomly throwing darts trying to hit the right tone. They went hard for the heartstrings with the odds-of-winning-a-medal Paralympic spot. Then socially-conscious comedy with the rabbi, priest, imam and monk (Toyota brags of being an Olympic sponsor but has the group going to some generic football game?)
Two auto brands did movie tie-ins. Lexus with Black Panther was a generic 2+2=3 partnership. While Jeep did it better with their Jeff Goldblum turning the tables on the T-rex Jurassic Park homage.
Though not a homerun—and perhaps a bit too “inside baseball”—the best car ad of the night for me was the Jeep “Here’s your manifesto.” spot. When your product can do amazing things, maybe the best answer is to show it doing amazing things.”
Andy Grayson, Director of Strategy for Richmond-based creative agency, Arts& Letters Creative Co. was also a fan of Jeep’s Super Bowl spot.
“Jeep really stood out in the automotive category this year by doing what more companies should do: stay true to your brand. While other car companies in the Super Bowl used a lot of borrowed interest this year, Jeep, for the most part, brilliantly predicted other carmakers would do just that and ran spots that skewered the lofty car ads we’re so used to seeing. Jeep played it straight, owning their brand’s off-road identity. Arnold’s quiet “Anti-Manifesto” spot was sharp in its simplicity and was pretty much 180-degrees awa from Ram’s “Built to Serve” that borrowed Dr. Martin Luther King to try and make a statement yet ended up falling flat and setting Twitter ablaze – not in a good way.”
“From diversity and inclusion, to equality, to defying odds, to tackling childhood illness and even (questionable) use of a civil rights icon, the OEMs were about letting us know what they stand for and less about what they sell. It’s not unusual to use this platform to (re) establish a brands’ meaning in the hearts and minds of a hundred million people but these were some weighty issues. It was an interesting move given the instability of the world around us but continues a trend of heartwarming over heart pounding in the auto category.
And while some of these messages connected, I can’t help but wonder when it’s time to get back to cars being cars? That Stinger ripping around the track from Kia sure looked hot and the Jeep Anti-Manifesto (which was a manifesto) simply celebrated what makes a Jeep, a Jeep. Both made me want to drive.
There’s a way to mix belief, spectacle and product that’s right for the Super Bowl…it’s been done brilliantly before, and hopefully more in the future.”
Financial Services: Still working at age 85: Funny or Not So Funny?
Craig Mikes, Principle & Executive Creative Director at Austin-based, Proof Advertising:
“The financial category has always been thought provoking, albeit a bit stuffy. They’d run the types of spots you’d see at televised golf events – giant firms providing advice in return for fees to the wealthy who could afford them. But this year the category is promoting more app-like technologies aimed at a do-it-yourself audience than the financial planners of the past.
E-Trade’s “This is Getting Old” spot paints a dire scenario warning us in the funniest way possible that the trends shows we may not have enough money to retire and play Mah-Jongg. Instead, we best start thinking about our next career or use their product to start magically investing our money.
But the standout in the overall category was “Translator.” from Rocket Mortgage. Keegan-Michael Key revisits the translation bit he performed with President Obama, sans the anger, this go around. In this execution, he is opting to de-jargon everyone from pretentious hairdressers to dating profiles and finally the mortgage process from the aforementioned stuffy, giant firms. The unraveling of unnecessary complex financial verbiage brings to life a very simple strategy that showcases their product’s ease-of-use benefits with a light, helpful tone. No monsters under your bed scare tactics.”
Ed Cotton, Chief Strategy Officer for Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners and Chair of the 4A’s Strategy Council:
“Instead of its usual babies and animals, E-Trade took on the big issue of retirement, or rather the increasing impossibility of it. A smart strategy and a ripe cultural observation, but the execution left something to be desired. It was one of those where it makes sense on paper, but it’s hard to show 85-year-olds struggling in the workplace and especially hard to make it funny.
TD Ameritrade brought an iconic, and perhaps some would say ironic, celebrity into the picture in the form of the ageless Lionel Ritchie who touted long service hours without ever naming the title of his most famous song.
A final word for Mass Mutual, who tried very hard to pull at some purpose-driven heartstrings, a good notion, but it failed to explain how the brand stands for the purpose”