Which Brands Made the Most of Their Super Bowl Air Time?

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The big game has come and gone, but brands’ new campaigns are just getting started after an estimated $435M was spent on ads during Sunday night’s game. The yearly event, among the highest-rated TV events of the year, is arguably the super bowl of TV advertising. With so much on the line, what were the night’s biggest hits and misses?

Hit: Google’s “Loretta” – Football fans found themselves reaching for a tissue when Google’s “Loretta” ad aired, portraying a widower asking the company’s smart assistant to remember the happiest moments between him and his recently deceased spouse so he wouldn’t forget. The brand takes a different tone to its usual advertisements, which are sleeker and focused on the product. Google went straights for the heartstrings with this one, and though the ad seems to have been a hit on social media, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to make a dent in Amazon’s dominant 36.6% market share in the smart speaker category, which it has achieved with its Alexa devices.

Miss: Quibi’s “Bank Heist” – The new streaming service Quibi got in on the action with a spot portraying bank robbers getting distracted by the service’s 10-minutes-or-less shows. If this was Quibi’s way of introducing itself to America, the service may be off to a poor start since it was among the four worst-rated Super Bowl ads. The spot itself doesn’t do much to explain the service or brand outside of a throwaway one-liner about Quibis being 10-minute videos. 

Hit: Doritos “Old Town” – Doritos made a pitch of its new and improved Cool Ranch flavor by pairing Lil Nas X, of “Old Town Road” fame, with legendary actor Sam Elliot. The ad fused 2019’s new, hip-hop cowboy with the tough-and-rugged cowboy of yesteryear for comedy gold. With resulting searches for Doritos up 85% after the ad aired, it’s safe to say Doritos has a hit on its hands. And in a night full of memeable moments, Sam Elliot’s dancing mustache will surely endure well into the offseason. The ad plays nicely with Doritos’ image of a snacking icon trying to make waves by updating one of its most popular flavors.

Miss: Pop-Tarts “Fixed the Pretzel” – Breakfast brand Pop-Tarts confounded audiences who didn’t know pretzels needed fixing with its “Fixed the Pretzel” ad, announcing its new line of pretzel breakfast pastries. Though the ad did tap into some of the absurdist humor of successful ads such as the “Squatty Potty,” the argument of why someone would want a pretzel breakfast pastry was a bit muddled, which is reflected in the ad’s lukewarm reception. Sometimes audiences just want to see slow-mo shots of your gooey filling.

With 30-second Super Bowl ads going for between $5.2 and $5.6 million dollars this year, brands took a gamble with some of their ads; some of them landed, and some missed. Though a brand like Pop-Tarts likely isn’t going anywhere, a miss can doom an up-and-coming brand like Quibi. Only time will tell as audiences vote with their wallets to see which brands’ ads came out on top.