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Best “Surprise” Super Bowl Ads #SB48

Sure, people love “Puppy Love,” Budweiser’s sequel to last year’s Baby Clydesdale spot that took “Best of Super Bowl 47 Ads” – and the Cheerios “Gracie” sequel to last spring’s interracial family commercial is absolutely adorable. The thing is, nothing can take the place of a powerful surprise…and I’d already seen both spots before game day, which diminished their impact. So while these to ads both have tons of merit, today’s post will focus on the ones which had the best “surprise” factor: a condiment and a car.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your Heinz!

This was only the second time that Heinz advertised in the Super Bowl – so it was quite unexpected. “Hum” has people humming along to the classic children’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it…” – but instead of hand clapping at the end of each line, they thump the bottom of the glass ketchup bottle two times. We see a variety of groups in different scenes, all happily hitting their Heinz bottles until the end, when Granny lets loose another surprise – she squeezes the nearly empty plastic bottle, causing it to emit song-stopping flatulence. No worries, a glass bottle is quickly handed to her. While the end may be considered in poor taste to those over the age of 7, the rest of the commercial had my group clapping and singing from the moment it started. So far the spot has only 100,000 YouTube views (vs. 36 million for Bud’s Puppy Love), but this was the most physically engaged with commercial in our sampling size of one party – and it saw a lot of good Twitter activity:

Maserati. It ain’t just for 1%ers anymore.

On the other end of the purchasing spectrum, Maserati descended upon football fans with its first ever Super Bowl commercial. Aptly named “Now We Strike,” unsuspecting viewers were treated to the haunting narration of Oscar nominated child actress Quvenzhané Wallis in a 90-second long mini-movie. In this cinematic caliber spot, Wallis describes the old regime of lumbering giants… What are those giants? That appears to be open to interpretation. In my opinion, the brand is referring to other luxury makes like BMW, Mercedes, Lexus…the cars that are automatic choices for people who can afford to drive luxury cars. But now there’s a new choice in town: the Maserati Ghibli, starting at $60K-ish. Again, this ad only has about 100K views on YouTube so far, yet I saw it garner quite a bit of in-person and virtual commentary. Take a look:

Now, if everyone at our Super Bowl soiree had already seen these two ads, they would likely have been less talked about during the broadcast. Both were good spots, but there were may “good spots.” What made these stand out even more was the power of surprise. Coke’s “America the Beautiful” surprised us with an overtly melting pot message; Go Daddy surprised us with a somewhat tasteful spot called “Puppet Master;” and Bob Dylan surprised us too – but not in a good way. Now, I’d heard that he’d be doing a commercial for Chrysler. However, I don’t think any of us were prepared to hear the legendary musician wax poetic about how it’s fine for us to let Germany brew our beer and Asia build our phones as long as we buy American when it comes to cars. What?

Look, I’m all for finding new ways to reach out to consumers. But perhaps there is something to saving the Super Bowl commercials for, um, the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of that next year…and if marketers find a way to capitalize on the post-airing a bit more rather than focusing so heavily on pre-gaming.

~ @AdvertGirl, aka Denise Blasevick (CEO, The S3 Agency)


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