SuperBowl LIII Advertising Awards

While Super Bowl LIII may have been a snoozefest, The Influencer was hard at work scoring every ad running in the big game with Audiolytics™.

Audiolytics™ analysis projects nearly $100 million was wasted by advertisers inefficiently leveraging their $173,333.33 per second.

Here’s what else we learned: Robots are scary, but we can stand up to them. T-Mobile turned the tables on Sprint, after a dismal showing last year. Kia singlehandedly depressed the nation. Girl Power is in full effect. The ’90s are cool again. Brands are coming down from their soapboxes. Beer is vegan or something. Liquor brands and Scientologists found a way to get national coverage without paying the $5M price tag. Advertisers are as afraid of special offers and deadlines as they are of being offensive. And Stella ruined The Big Lebowski.

While Oxford Road’s CEO Dan Granger’s analysis has been covered in The New York Post, Yahoo Finance and Business Insider, below is the most comprehensive recap of Super Bowl LIII. Forget the Rams and The Patriots, here are the real winners and losers of the night.

As a refresher, Audiolytics™ is Oxford Road’s proprietary ad scoring system that measures ad effectiveness using 9 main components and 71 subcomponents. The main components are:

  • Setup – What is the problem you are solving?
  • Value Prop – What is your solution?
  • Positioning – What are the alternatives to your solution?
  • Demonstration – How does it work?
  • Substantiation – Why believe you?
  • Offer – Why respond now?
  • Scarcity – How long is this available?
  • Path – How do you get the product/service?
  • Execution – The tone and feel of the ad.

Here are this year’s winners in each main Audiolytics™ Category:

  • Best Setup Expensify – 72.09% – Cars so cold that they’re sneezin’. The Two Chainz / Adam Scott commercial highlighted what we all know to be true; expense reports suck, and teed up the central value prop in a unique and entertaining way.
  • Best Value Prop Doritos – 72.44% – Another musical collaboration brought us the best value prop of the afternoon. The Chance The Rapper / Backstreet Boys collaboration for Doritos, was entirely watchable end to end, bookended an unmistakably clear value prop, and had a masterful introduction of a new product line. Also, Chance’s rap solo is one of the strongest customer testimonials in recent history. The cherry on top: Chance eats the chip – a valiant act of demonstration.
  • Best Positioning Bud Light – Trojan Horse – 51.85% – Bud Light literally threw down the gauntlet with some of the strongest positioning we’ve seen all year. Taking on Miller Light directly while somehow passing over the fact that they brew their beer with rice positioned Bud Light as the only beer in the category that doesn’t use corn syrup, which apparently is bad.
  • Best Demonstration Captain Marvel – 75.76% – This latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes no apologies for its ambitions to position this Girl Power thrill-ride on a level beyond its predecessors, thereby staying faithful to the large promise needed to make a campaign successful. The clips to demonstrate its fulfillment are credible, with familiar faces that anchor us with positive vibes. The trailer culminates with a clear call to action—there is no question about this ad’s intent.
  • Best Substantiation Sprint – 37.79% – In the continued theme of robots running the world in the near future, Sprint deserves credit for remaining unapologetic in sharing specific product benefits and offers, wrapped inside an entertaining narrative. But a big fall from glory compared to last year’s Audiolytics™ champion, Do the Math and Switch to Sprint last year. This year’s offering had many of the same elements, minus originality.
  • Best Offer – T-Mobile 93.82% (Multiple: Free tacos, Free Lyft, Buy Out Your Contract) – T-Mobile did a lot right this year and one of the best things from a performance standpoint, was their clear use of offers in their entire suite of ads. Each spot had a specific offer from free tacos to free Lyft rides to contract buyouts for those who join the T-Mobile 5G revolution.
  • Best Scarcity – Bill Belichick – No ads in this year’s offerings had any sort of time-sensitive offer, so the award goes to Bill Belichick. Take a picture folks. The Brady / Belichick combo is coming to an end. Maybe not this year, perhaps not next, but it is entirely possible that in the next decade you may not see this again.  
  • Best Path Wix – 52.54% – This has to be the most straightforward spot of the night. Very clear-cut without preaching about what it means to be a human in 2019. Just a down and dirty display of an easy way to set up a professional looking website. Nice job Wix.
  • Best Execution – T-Mobile (All Four Ads) – The T-Mobile series was some of the best of the night, including Dad?!, We’re Here For You, What’s for Dinner, and We’ll Keep this Brief.” Each one began with a profoundly human, lighthearted hook showcasing the most relatable, yet ridiculous text threads. It was a product demonstration at it’s finest, followed up by unique product positioning and ambitious claims backed by evidence and an offer!

And now the best and worst across all major categories.

  • Best Legacy Brand Spot (we’ve seen them before and they did well) Doritos – 75.44% – We’ve already showcased this as our best Value Prop but Doritos also came in the top spot as the brand that consistently delivers solid ads, year after year.
  • Best New-To-Market (brands introducing themselves to the public effectively) Bubly – 61.21% – This spot has two great things going for it: the bit with Michael Bublé just works, and the ad is all about the product. If all advertisers gave as much screen time to their product as this one or worked as hard to pound their name into your head, they would have a fighting chance at seeing a positive ROI well beyond what most brands wind up accepting, especially in a Super Bowl ad.
  • Most Divisive (ads that exploit the disunity in our country) – NOBODYPerhaps they were trying to avoid a Kendall Jenner debacle, but all of the brands stayed away from polarizing ads in this year’s offerings. Maybe Kendall has already solved the world’s issues with a Pepsi.
  • Most Unclear Burger King – 28.03% – The fast-food giant invited us all to eat like Andy Warhol in this bizarre, mostly silent ad. Points for originality here. But this is a Picasso, not an advertisement. While nobody is entirely sure why they dusted off footage of the late artist fumbling a Whopper, we can all agree that nobody really wants to “Eat Like Andy” or at least they shouldn’t.
  • Worst Use of Celebrity Stella – 53.86% – This is what happens when you find a stranger in the alps. Contrived and not clever. Stella paid to bring characters we love back to life, only to drown them before our eyes in a scalding cauldron of mediocrity, violating their legacy and sucking the life out of every reason we ever liked them in the first place. Thanks, Stella! The Dude abides no longer.
  • Best Use of Celebrity Bubly – 61.21% – C’Mon, Michael Bublé’s name is so close to the brand, the GEICO gecko is giving this one props. The self-effacing crooner makes the perfect pitch-man for this up-and-coming brand in a very crowded space.
  • Comedy: Least Effective Use of Humor Devour – 35.08% – What if instead of a (fill-in-the-blank) issue, we made it about our product instead? What if we liken our product to an addiction that threatens a marriage? Let’s do it! The best thing we can say is that the subject matter is effective in holding audience attention, but nothing about this attempt made anyone want to eat, but rather, vomit. Frankly, it’s unclear what kind of food Devour is even selling. Is it food? Not a good look for a Super Bowl debut and not an appetizing theme.
  • Comedy: Best Use of Humor T-Mobile – 93.82% – The cellular company owned the Super Bowl! While all of their ads were funny, “We’re Here For You” nailed comedic timing with a clever conversation between “Mike” and his Lyft driver. But the ad doesn’t solely rely on comedic chops, it closes with a solid offer of free Lyft rides for all T-Mobile customers. An ad that is on brand, has a compelling offer and is funny to boot? It can be done!
  • Inspiration: Least Inspiring (most preachy or pandering) Budweiser – 30.18% – In every Super Bowl, as soon as you see the Clydesdales, you know Budweiser is going to fill your soul with patriotic pride and make you feel good about damaging your liver with their brand of swill. This year, they doubled down on the inspiration by throwing in a Dalmatian and Bob Dylan – what could go wrong?  In this case, a lot. This year’s ad has the appeal of a moist handshake. Distilling Dylan’s song about social equality down to its most literal level and using it to showcase how Budweiser uses some sustainable power to brew beer makes this writer very happy the Bud Knight was killed off by the Mountain earlier in the broadcast.

  • Inspiration: Most Inspiring Microsoft – 78.18% – As far as emotional resonance, Microsoft nailed it with this one—we still have tears in our eyes. When you are nearing a trillion dollar valuation, your ads are as much PR as anything else, and this one does the job. But what are we supposed to do with this other than feeling better about Microsoft? Are these adaptive controllers free or discounted for those who qualify? This type of ad would be best followed up with, “So we are giving away X to families in need” and go all the way with the positive feels. Either way, we love the kids and we got the warm fuzzies.  
  • Lowest Score Based on Audiolytics™ Kia Telluride – 19.51% – Yes that’s out of a possible score of 100! The best thing we can say about this ad is that it did show the actual vehicle they are selling – that’s it. For once, just once, could an auto manufacturer please stop just talking in generic platitudes and substantiate even one claim? It sounds like this young man was asked to read a script saying Kias are made of, for, and by people who have just given up. Please just tell us one reason we shouldn’t buy a Ford Explorer instead.
  • Highest Score Based on Audiolytics™ T-Mobile – Dad – 93.82% – Last year, Sprint won the Super Bowl while T-Mobile wasted millions in an entirely forgettable ad that was as preachy as it was unrelated to their business, walking out with the lowest Audiolytics™ score of the year. This year, the two brands have switched places. Sprint floundered but the T-Mobile series were some of the best of the night, and the “Dad” spot was the crowning achievement. With this ad, T-Mobile achieved product demonstration at it’s finest, followed up with unique product positioning and ambitious claims backed up by evidence. They also didn’t shy away from making an offer to the audience—as most brands do in the “Big Game”—but instead leaned in hard. T-Mobile is by far the most improved player at this year’s Super Bowl and wins the Audiolytics™ MVP.

And there you have it! For a full list of every ad, how they scored, and what they did right or wrong, check out the Official Oxford Road Super Bowl Score Sheet. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how your favorite ad scored by replying in the field below.

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