Storytelling at the Superbowl


February 4, 2013 by smallarmyjeff

On Sunday night, we were entertained with stories from more than 30 brands trying to win the hearts and minds of game-watching consumers.  But, entertainment alone doesn’t necessarily do that.  The most effective stories also convey a moral that enables the audience to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the brand.   Based on this criteria, here are the true winners and losers from the game.

The Winners:

Moral:  When things are built right, there’s no need to worry.
Although this ad has received some (IMO, unwarranted) criticism for being racist, this ad was not only entertaining, but also clearly conveyed a moral that caused the audience to make relevant assumptions about the brand – safe, reliable, well-built, etc.

Moral:  Stains are never wanted.
In this clever ad (also impeccably timed in the 4th quarter) Tide told an entertaining story that appealed to fans of both teams.  They did not tell us how they got rid of stains or claim why they were better than their competitors.  Instead, they confidently expressed that no stain is sacred.  As a result, we will assume they do a great job of getting rid of them.

Moral:  Appreciate the things that are best in life.
With one of the few ads that pulled at heart strings instead of funny bones, Jeep demonstrated that they appreciate the best things in life – in this case, the troops who are fighting for our country.  By associating themselves with the troops and honoring them in the ad, they elevated their message far above gas mileage and style.  And we all walked away with a slightly greater appreciation for the brand.

The Losers:

Moral:  If the truth is tough to tell, make something up.
While many found this ad entertaining, it would be surprising to see people running to Kia dealers to buy their next car.  Who wants to buy a car from a company that believes you should avoid the truth.  Seems a bit fishy to me.

Moral:  We can all reduce waste
SodaStream had an opportunity to be noticed, and get people excited about making carbonated drinks at home.  While the landfill/less plastic moral may be noble, it was off the mark and not broad enough to make a real market impact with the broad Superbowl audience.

Go Daddy
Moral:  It’s fun to kiss a nerd?
While SuperBowl fans are all aware of Go Daddy by this point, how comfortable are they with having Go Daddy manage their domain name for them?  Fortunately for Go Daddy, its competitors are relatively unknown, leaving consumers with limited options – so, perhaps they got their value.  But, imagine if they actually told a story that made them look good?

Although many of this year’s stories were entertaining, it’s the moral of the story that will determine their ultimate effectiveness. That’s the moral to this story.


3 thoughts on “Storytelling at the Superbowl

  1. Best: Oreo’s tweet. (

    This is the only entry that ties back to the brand in a meaningful, relevant way. And it cost Oreo next to nothing. Every televised ad worked its strategy so hard (Budweiser Black Crown, anyone?) that it was neither entertaining nor memorable.

    • Good point, Ross. Oreo and Audi both get kudos for their social media response to #blackoutbowl. Did you see the @Audi tweet posted minutes after the blackout: “Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now…”

      • Audi’s social media response was, in my opinion, far better than its ad—unless the Audi TV strategy is meant [here I put my tongue in my cheek] to suggest that higher-end Audi models turn their drivers into loners who have no respect for the law (speeding), authority (parking in the principal’s space—surely worth a detention), or social convention (didn’t look like the young lady enjoyed that kiss; whether or not Prom King approved is irrelevant). And then speeding again!

        [Full disclosure: Jeff Freedman and I are not related.]

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