Kantar Media Newsroom: Super Bowl Ads, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Welcome to this week’s Kantar Media Newsroom, your weekly summary of the news that matters in the media and marketing industries. To learn more about how we can help you monitor both paid and earned media and make informed decisions, please contact us at info-us@kantarmedia.com.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

NBC's busy

Typically the host broadcaster of the Super Bowl will tout its own programming throughout the game – why not, it’s the largest audience they’ll likely have all year – and NBC didn’t disappoint. From FIFA 2018 World Cup, to an overly produced The Voice spot, and several generous Winter Olympics spots, NBC showed off its busy lineup in the coming year. In all, it turned out to be a busy ad-fest during the game as well, “The cost of a 30-second spot during NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 has topped $5 million for the second year and is expected to be higher than the record set during Super Bowl LI last February on Fox, when the network charged just over $5 million for some 30-second spots.

Advertisers kept it light, entertaining

The overall theme of the big game’s ads was in stark contrast from last year’s highly-politicized spots with border walls and feminist empowerment taking center stage just months after the presidential election. “The mostly uplifting tone of the spots is a sign advertisers believed that viewers of TV's most-watched event of the year needed a break from the partisan rancor in public discourse during the first year of the Trump presidency.” Inclusiveness, positivity and light-hearted funnies were found throughout the night. ”Diversity messages during TV's biggest ad showcase were celebratory in nature. T-Mobile's ‘Change starts now’ ad used a continuous shot of cute babies. Kraft offered up photos — submitted by viewers during the game — that showed an array of gay parents, straight couples and single dads of all races topped with the line ‘there is no one right way to family.’ Coca-Cola served up a colorful montage of diverse couples and young people.”

Alexa lost her voice but won the night

Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles won the game, but Amazon’s Alexa commercial was victorious in ad land. Poor Alexa lost her voice and had to rely on a bevy of celebrities to fill in as she recuperated. Thanks to hype leading up to the big game, crowds looked forward to Amazon’s personal assistant’s debut Super Bowl commercial. USA Today’s ad meter, based on viewer votes, elected Alexa’s spot as the favorite of the night. After Alexa somehow loses her voice during a routine command response, her boss steps in with alternates. “Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, as himself, is reassured by his uncertain staff that replacements are at the ready. Among those who try — and spectacularly fail — to fill Alexa’s virtual vocal cords are Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, Cardi B and Sir Anthony Hopkins. When Alexa’s voice returns, so does she. No explanation is offered for what happened to her. But, hey, it is flu season.”

Top ads, from shrimp on the barbie to clean clothes

On a personal note, the writer of this newsletter was secretly psyched to see a “Crocodile Dundee” reboot in the works, until it was revealed to be an Australian tourism spot. “It turns out this was all just a charade to promote tourism in the beautiful country of Australia. Quite a bit of excitement led up to this big reveal — we’re almost upset this isn’t a real movie.” Now I’m looking into flights and hotels for the great down under, so I guess it worked. But, I digress. Tide, which has been known to create funny, lasting impressions on Super Bowl viewers, did not disappoint either. “Tide’s commercials managed to look simultaneously like a bro-ed out beer ad, an all-American truck ad, a low-budget insurance ad and even an Amazon Alexa ad. What makes them a Tide ad? The clean clothing that everyone wears, according to star David Harbour of ‘Stranger Things.’ ‘So, does this make every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad?’ he asks. And by halfway through the game, he had us believing it.”

Dodge Ram is a miss with MLK, Jr. ad

Criticism was swift after viewers caught Ram’s Martin Luther King, Jr.-inspired ad early in the game “The biggest blowback, however, was reserved for Dodge. To many commentators, the advertisement seemed to co-opt the martyred civil rights icon in the service of crass commercialism and unblinking patriotism. King loudly opposed the Vietnam War and argued for military expenditures to be redirected to domestic spending — particularly to serve the poor. Critics cited that as one of the ironies as they attacked the 30-second spot that, like others in the broadcast, cost Dodge more than $5 million to air.” References to appropriation, taking MLK’s words out of context and sending our country back to the 1950s ran rampant on Twitter, with an official retort from the King family and foundation as well.

M&Ms hits homerun with DeVito casting

Thanks to the instant-reaction-meter AKA Twitter, brands are able to hear in real-tiem whether or not their ads were a hit or miss. Mars’ brand M&M’s tickled many peoples’ funny bone, employing actor Danny DeVito as the red M&M. “M&M’s hit the sweet spot with its Super Bowl LII commercial featuring Danny DeVito playing one of the bite-sized treats, and the internet ate it up. ‘How the heck did it take this long to cast Danny DeVito as an M&M?’ one user wrote of the clip, which sees DeVito — transformed from a piece of candy into human form — taking to the streets to ask passersby if they want to ‘eat’ him. Another observed: ‘Danny DeVito as the human form of the red m&m is the best casting since Morgan Freeman as God.’”

Winter Olympics, Here We Come!

There’s something about live sports that endures

While the NFL viewership has witnessed recent declines, and networks like ESPN become an increasing drain on entertainment companies (hello Disney), the Super Bowl and Olympics remind us all that live sports watching still trumps the DVR. “In an age where roughly half the audience has a DVR and can zap through commercials. Sports remain almost unique in terms of programming that viewers feel compelled to watch live, making such events particularly attractive to advertisers. For all the focus on the NFL's recent struggles, it's also worth noting that other sports have bucked the gravity dragging down ratings, including NBA basketball and this year's college football championship game, which surged 13% above its 2017 performance. Small wonder that NBC is emphasizing the live component of its Olympic coverage from PyeongChang, South Korea, having faced past criticism for offering an abundance of delayed events in primetime.”

Ad spend in US expected to set record

Ultimately, the name of the game is access. Giving viewers seemingly limitless options for consuming this winter’s Olympics results in greater ad spend opportunity. “This year’s Olympics, which begin 8 February and will run for 17 days, will give Americans unprecedented options to follow on not just television but also digital platforms. NBC Universal plans to show more than 625 hours of programming on its linear TV channels, together with over 1,800 hours of live streaming video coverage, a significant increase from the 2014 Olympics, Kantar said, when 1,000 hours of live streaming video coverage was offered at www.nbcolympics.com.” Critics worry that more options result in lower audiences per channel, but at the end of the day, more channels spell growth. “One outcome of more programming content this year will be audience fragmentation as viewers distribute their consumption across the expanding array of linear and digital options, leading to declines in average unit rates given the lower available audience. ‘However, having more choices can increase the aggregate number of Olympics viewers even as the average audience per channel and per spot declines,’ Kantar said. ‘Ad revenue growth thus becomes more dependent on volume than average price.’”

Super Bowl ads perform double-duty in Olympics for key advertisers

Several big advertisers from the Super Bowl will be employing the same ads for their Olympic exposure – with Toyota inspiring with their Paralympics sponsorship taking center stage as “mobility for all,” among others. Top sponsors have been promoting their association with the Olympics since the fall, with newcomers like Intel taking over for McDonald's, who left their contract three years early, touting its VR technology as a superior way to watch the games. Here’s a roundup of the top sponsors for this year’s games.


Who’s On Top? – January 22-28, 2018

It’s that time of year again!

In the week before the Super Bowl, spending on new TV creatives remained relatively flat at $164 milliion, with many advertisers focusing on pre-launching their big campaigns through digital and social. However, with Valentine's Day right around the corner, Kay Jewelers cracked the top five with an ad targeting men planning to propose. It featured designer Neil Lane along with an ecstatic couple.


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