Creating a Super Bowl moment Kicks off Networx 2019 Calendar

Thursday 21st February 2019 06:47pm
By Sheri Lawson

Kicking off 2019 was always going to be interesting, but throw in hot discussion about this year's class of Super Bowl campaigns and it's a whole new game!  Liam Fitzpatrick, Founder & Head of Communications, Commswork wasted no time getting to the core of what the audience came for - discovering some of the best ads of Super Bowl 2019. Joining Liam at the beautiful Victoria Park venue to discuss Super Bowl's offerings were Sarah Kelly, Associate Professor, Marketing & Law, The University of Queensland; Rob Hudson, Managing Director, Clemenger BBDO; and  Luke Wheatley, Head of Creative and Content, Flight Centre..

For Sarah, it was the Serena Williams led Bumble ad "The Ball Is In Her Court", which not only showcased a brilliantly aligned partnership founded on female strength, but also launched Bumble's official campaign to the world. What was once known as a social dating app, has transformed into a networking site for female friendship, partnerships and business connections. In addition, the ad focused on female talent, was produced by a predominately female crew, and aimed to create noise and empower females in a traditionally male dominated space. 

Not playing?  Check out Bumble's ad here

For Rob, it was Kia's Telluride ad. Told through the lens of a southern child, and pulling at the heart strings of what it means to be an everyday American living in Georgia, Atlanta. Kia's ad manages to weave beautiful imagery, the iconic slow southern drawl of yesteryear and no actual product features into what is traditionally a product placement ad. The ad is crafted so beautifully and uses storytelling so eloquently that it ultimately transforms a foreign car into the pride of America and leaves the viewer feeling they have just witnessed the birth of a modern day American icon.

Not playing? Check out Kia's Telluride ad here  

For Luke, humour and ground-breaking category disruption was the clear winner of Super Bowl LII (soz New England Patriots!) with Carl Jr's ad shining the brightest light on their Beyond Famous Star Burger, the first plant-based burger (read: vegan) to ever be featured in a Super Bowl ad. Not only does the ad cut through with its humour, but it also stays true to it's bold, disruptive and Pioneer status brand persona - All while publicly throwing down the gauntlet to other fast food businesses to listen to the winds of change, or be left behind. A few quick Google searches prove just how popular the Beyond Meat Burger business has become in recent times, and how insightful Carl's Jr are to not only create a product to meet market demands, but to use the opportunity to speak to potential customers and drive them into stores to purchase or social channels to engage.

Not Playing? Check out the Carl's Jr ad here

While all of the panel's favourite ads have different tones, topics and target audiences, their connectedness lies within each brand knowing exactly who it is, who its audience is, and how to effectively engage and connect with them in a noisy and crowed marketplace - That's why the three above examples resonate beyond the highly sought after and costly spots in a broadcast sports program unlike any other.

The questions rolled on with the topic of creativity, more specifically which brands hit the mark, and which missed incredibly. What was clear is the absolute, uncompromising need for brand managers & marketers to be so in tune with the brands they manage, that the voice is pitch perfect in every customer engagement. When it came to pointing out two  examples of creatively hitting or missing the mark, Rob answered the call holding up Pepsi's "More Than OK" ad which strikes the balance between witty & insightful marketing, while Colgate failed to speak the global language demanded of the medium,and perhaps left a lot of audiences asking what it was all about, or worse still, not giving the ad a second thought beyond its allocated time slot.

Check out the ads below and see if you agree with the panel on whether they hit or missed the mark

HIT: Pepsi

It's not, "Is Pepsi ok?", It's "You will have an ice cold glass of the best thing you've ever tasted..."

 I'll leave the rest to Steve Carrell, Lil' John & Cardi B.

Not playing? Check out the Pepsi Ad here 

MISS: Colgate

The Close Talker...

Blink and you might miss the [aged] pop culture reference.

Not playing? Check out Colgate's ad here 

Overall, there was a lack of politically charged ads -  it's hard to create cut-through when you have nightly entertainment and comedians talking politics and picking apart the system. The one player in this space was The Washington Post, who released a branding message focused on the importance of Journalism and the role of Journalist's in today's fractured media landscape where we're all living through our own echo cambers and endlessly scrolling news feeds. Interesting to note: No Subscription/Sales details on this one - it was pure branding - a message with profound meaning - and the benefits may not be seen immediately, but much like The New York Post ad may resonant for time to come.

The panel also discussed the Return On Investment (ROI) when it comes to Super Bowl. As Luke pointed out, any good marketer will go back to the data and assess if it shows the ad driving the results required by the business. So when it comes to paying the heavy price tags associated with Super Bowl ads, the general consensus is that brands will still put out the commercials as long as the budgets can afford them or there is a need to do be seen in this prestigious space. There are a multitude of reasons for releasing a Super Bowl ad, just as there are reasons not to do so, both of which aren't specifically connected to funding.  At the core of this talking point however was whether or not the class of 2019 Super Bowl ads could be directly linked to immediate returns -  increases in brand sentiment, conversations, general sales or stock price increases - and whether that momentum could be continued beyond the initial fever around the game & ad release.

It's a rare occasion where an ad is embraced and  ingrained into pop culture so readily that its key line becomes a daily phrase spoken around the world. After all, not every brand can achieve the same success as Snickers did with their Betty White led You're Not You When You're Hungry 2010 Super Bowl ad. You've no doubt seen it, used the line, and shared it countless times since then, you may have even shared the localised versions that rolled out around the ad since then (Alf Stewart doing his part to give the brand a nudge). After all, the original ad much like the chocolate bar, really satisfies - audiences & marketers alike seem to think so at least and the brilliant casting and clever copy landed at the perfect time. However this isn't always the case and sometimes the ad is so tone deaf that its pretty much like burning your budget - Kendall Jenner & Pepsi anyone?

Where wins have been seen more consistently is in the use of guerrilla marketing tactics and agile marketing strategies. Brands with smaller budgets, strong creative and a clear understanding of their target audience wants, needs and motivations have been hijacking Super Bowl time and creating talkability for years now. In addition to this they're also resonating far greater than some of the brands that paid to be seen within the broadcast. The panel led reminded us of a few examples including;

  • Flight Centre jumping on board the social phenomenon - #10yearchallenge, showing the iconic Captain then vs Now and having fun with the results and user comments afterwards
  • Netflix's F**K It's Hot post and subsequent responses + fan base engagement - think Wendy's-esque content and fun across threads & platforms
  • Queensland Police Service (QPS) hijacking local events and communicating information with a twist increasing engagement, and improving awareness. The night before they played right into the Eminem persona around 8 Mile (Plains) traffic
  • Pepsi invading "Coke City" ahead of Super Bowl (2019) where the Pepsi team engaged the audience and Coke itself with creatively driven tongue in cheek teasing and tactical marketing buyouts to ensure their brand was front & center throughout Coke's home town
  • Gatorade's Command Centre which exists to generate real time content during game days and prepare for that one moment of ultimate GO TIME - when marketing magic can be made, which leads into the final example...
  • Oreo's stroke of genius in 2013, when a blackout sent the New Orleans stadium into darkness and a simple tweet featuring 7 words and a cookie lit up social like a wild fire. No $5 mil + budget required.



While I could write more about the fantastic panel that kick started the 2019 Networx season, I'm sure everyone is off to watch all the Super Bowl Ads again after this little refresher... So with that in mind, we reach our top tips of the evening.


No matter the budget, know what it is you want to say. Know your brand. You must be authentic with the brand. Go for Glory! Have your purpose, have your brand, and stick to that.


Budget, placement, all those things do not matter - it's about being true to your brand. Speaking to your customer, and always being true to them. Thinking first, thinking always of your customer, or your potential customers. Use all the research companies, free surveys, and everything you have at your disposal to learn more and continually about your customers & brand. Use digital for two way conversation and use your front line staff to take the pulse of your market.  Remember, every customer has a choice and opinion.


Super Bowl isn't irrelevant despite the lower audience numbers - there's still a lot of prestige around this kind of event and for businesses with a lot of funding, this placement is beneficial. But the key is leveraging the assets available and definitely using technology/AI to engage in a deep and meaningful way in real time. There is a tremendous opportunity to learn and adapt and reflect quickly to gauge engagement between customers/fans and brands.

Check the full Super Bowl Ad list here

PS. If you're wondering, the Panel's Ultimate Super Bowl MVP's are below. Head over to Facebook and let us know yours.

For Sarah & Rob, the force is strong with VW. Brilliant acting, fantastic story telling, and sophisticated Dad Jokes that don't put anyone down creates a perfect recipe for resonance. Check it out Volkswagen-Darth Vader 2011 Super Bowl Commercial

For Luke, it's all about the basics - knowing your customers & market, knowing how to communicate clearly, being authentic, and then nailing it all with genuinely funny creative that stands the test of time and cuts through market noise. Check it out - Our Blades Are F***ing Great