I’m not one for gushy ads, so when I watched Super Bowl XLIX yesterday, I looked for spots with solid strategic bite. Not lifestyle stuff. Not cuddly cute. Not outrageously obscure (there was more than a few of those). I was on the lookout for ads with a clear benefits story -- although, like most everybody else on the planet, I did enjoy watching the Budweiser puppy find his way back home.
Yeah, yeah … I know it’s all about entertainment and ego, but Tom Brady and company provided enough of that to even satisfy my dad, a dedicated Patriots fan who’s been gone nearly four years now. Wherever he’s hanging out these days, I’d bet that last minute interception by Malcom Butler raised him and inch or two off his recliner!
“Brewed” popped up in the third quarter as viewers were wondering which way the Tilt-A-Whirl game was going to go. By then, we’d been served more than our share of emotionally-saturated spots, some truly inexplicable ads and a few that tried hard to sell something it was not – that means you, Toyota Camry. And things had pretty much come back to earth after Katy Perry’s 12-minute entertainment extravaganza.
With a hard-driving fuzz guitar underlay and shots of Bud being made -- and enjoyed, flashes of text declared Budweiser a “macho beer, not brewed to be fussed over”, a brew for “drinking, not dissecting.” Bud, the spot declared, is for “people who like to drink beer brewed the hard way. Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds …"
“This is an affirmation of what Budweiser is, not an attack on what it isn't,” Brian Perkins, Budweiser’s VP of Marketing, told Robert Haynes-Perkins of the NY Drink Examiner. “We're hoping to touch a chord with the person who wants the truth about how we make Budweiser and why it's great.
“We love craft beer” (and Anheuser-Busch acquires and sells some),” Perkins told the reporter. "I think that the prevailing dialectic is that small must be better, and big must be bad. That's the generally accepted trend. For us, big is good. It's not arrogant, it's just saying that it's great to brew a beer that so many people enjoy … it doesn't mean there's less care, less quality or less passion from the people who make it."
That’s tapping into the brand's Marketable Truth©. And even though it scored only 5.15 (out of 10) on USA Today’s Ad Meter, I thought the ad was a strategic touchdown with its Brewed The Hard Way tagline.
There were a few other Super Bowl ads with solid positioning (of those I actually saw).
GM’s new Colorado truck ads scored in my book by telling a story that revealed the cool truck guy vs. the less cool compact car guy. The benefits story was subtle, but it worked -- although it only placed #39 on USA Today’s list.
I also like Sprint’s “Apology” ad (#34) because it directly called out the other carriers for being “really expensive,” offered to cut people’s wireless rates in half compared to Verizon and AT&T and gave them a way to make that happen. They also used a whiny goat and a braying donkey to make a visual point about their competitor’s pricing.
And then there was GoDaddy’s “Working” spot (#55), which presented a direct, no-nonsense benefits story vs. the in-your-face, sexually charged approach they’ve used in previous Super Bowl ads. It didn’t score very well with the public, however, which no doubt would like to have gazed upon Danica Patrick one more time or scored a smooch from Bar Rafaeli.
Clearly, the ads I appreciated for their strategic punch were not favorites in the eyes of viewers who were more interested in being entertained than being convinced on the spot to change their mind about a product or buy something on the strength of product benefits.
Fortunately for Budweiser, the public will be seeing more of “Brewed”.
TakeAway: In the long run, benefits-laden, positioning-driven advertising wins over creative fluff – unless, of course, a spot has both, like Apple’s famous “1984” MacIntosh ad during Super Bowl XVIII. Little did anyone viewing that game know how much the world was about to change.
Content © by Brian E. Faulkner
Marketable Truth © by Brian E. Faulkner