Groundhog Day

The ads in this year’s Super Bowl lived up to the day’s name. In case you missed it, 02/02/2020 was both a palindrome AND Groundhogs Day. The total ad spend, an estimated $435 Million, was a 29% increase over last year. But the advertisements (much like those in most Super Bowls) said little and relied on less, with sophomoric humor, sentimentality, and nostalgia continuing to test the premise that feelings = sales. Most people only remember one or two standout ads since the last time the Kansas City Chiefs were in the big game 50 years ago, despite the thousands produced and billions of media dollars spent.

There were simply no ads this year that anyone will be talking about in years to come, let alone next week. In fact, only half an hour after the game, none of the commercials were in the top ten trending topics on Twitter. The Super Bowl is NOT the place people want to hear a political statement, but for the price of the advertiser’s admission coming in at $5.6 Million for 30 seconds, you’d better make some kind of statement. Instead, this year was just meh. In fact, the ad that scored the highest on the USA Today Ad Meter, Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” spot, received the second lowest rating of a top spot in the Ad Meter’s history, scoring an unimpressive 7.01 out of 10.

At Oxford Road, we adhere to our Audiolytics™ message framework when crafting a strong statement for our advertisers, which is comprised of Nine Key Components and Seventy-One Subcomponents. According to our analysis, none of the ads in the big game this year came close to getting everything right, but there were those that succeeded in one or two components. As such, this year’s recap will showcase the ads that did an exceptional job of communicating using at least one of the Nine Key Components.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 1: Setup

Description: Establish an immediate connection with a succinct powerful statement that will capture the attention of the target audience, while calling out the problem the offering solves and/or the opportunity it represents.

Ad:Jeep – “Groundhog Day”

Summary: What makes the Setup work so well in this ad is that by banking on the universal understanding of the classic film, “Groundhog Day”, Chrysler introduced the Jeep Gladiator as a NEW element into the seminal tale for a pretty strange holiday.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 2: Value Prop

Description: Introduce the offering and clearly identify its primary benefits based on the problem it solves and/or the opportunity it represents.

Ad: Discover – No & Discover – Yes

Summary: Discover went right after TWO legacy objections to their offering with TWO commercials separated by one commercial between them. Deceptively simple and clear.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 3: Positioning

Description: Write a clear description comparing the main point of difference between this offering and the status quo or leading competitors to illustrate value.

Ad: Pepsi – Zero Sugar. Done Right.

Summary: Get it. There is nothing quite like taking on your competition directly… Bravo Pepsi! You’ve come a long way since your big miss.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 4: Demonstration

Description: Write a clear description starting with something synonymous with, “Here’s how it works”. Then identify and refute common likely objections to the claim.

Ad: Hyundai – Smaht Pahk

Summary: Fun demonstration that plays off the one accent that won’t offend anyone. This ad also gets high marks in Set Up, Value Prop, Substantiation, and Execution.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 5: Substantiation

Description: Provide evidence that gives the most trustworthy reasons to believe using things like social proof, statistics, awards, reviews, earned media attention, case studies, customer stories, endorsements, experts, or any other supporting data.

Ad: Michelob Ultra – Jimmy Works It Out 

Summary: The Super Bowl was light on substantiation, but it usually is. The only ad that came close was Michelob Ultra, who is establishing  themselves as the “fitness beer” and backing it up with an impressively low calorie and carb stat.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 6: Offer

Description: Give clear items that will motivate people to go out of their way to become customers. This could include discounts, free items, gift with purchase, guarantees, etc.

Ad: Olay – #makespaceforwomen & Michelob – 6 for 6-Pack

Summary: It’s not clear how well these offers worked, but giving the audience a clear action they can take is a worthy goal that beats the heck out of entertaining them for 30 seconds before they forget your brand. Michelob was the superior version, as the promotion correlated directly with product sales.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 7: Scarcity

Description: Explain why it is urgent for someone to act soon to capitalize on the opportunity, such as offer deadlines, seasonal considerations, fears of missing out, limited supply, compounding pain of status quo, etc.

Ad: Turbotax

Summary: Death and taxes. There are no two activities we all participate in with better organic scarcity. Turbotax taps into this scarcity inherently, and in a fun way.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 8: Path

Description: Clearly detail the steps customers need to take in order to take the action being measured.

Ad: Walmart

Summary: This ad used many memorable characters to emphasize exactly how and where you can take advantage of Walmart’s offering. Go to their store, just like ALL your favorite characters. One caveat — two Bills does NOT excuse zero Keanus.


Audiolytics™ Key Component 9: Execution

Description: Writing and production of copy must enhance and not detract from components above.

Ad: Hummer – Quiet Revolution

Summary: By using silence, GMC not only did something creative, it demonstrated a core feature of the 2022 Hummer in a captivating way.


While Audiolytics™ is our proprietary method of evaluating an ad’s potential, it ultimately comes down to the question of did it work?

Alfredo Tronosco, VP of Global Brand Marketing and ROI at Kantar, spoke with Forbes about how advertisers might calculate the return on such a pricey piece of media, from immediate to future conversions and things like “reputation”. Current and potential customers aren’t the only audience advertisers might consider — they could also be thinking about employees, trade partners, and the investing community. But, whoever they are, they all appreciate a strong statement, and this year’s offerings fell short.

TV Squared evaluated performance by looking at brand uplift from this year’s offering of Super Bowl ads. According to TV Squared, uplift is defined as those that drove the highest level of online response both online and through social media. Through that lens,  the winner of this year’s Super Bowl ads was Audi’s “Let it Go”. But how much of that uplift was actually for Audi? It seems logical that Disney, or even the ad’s star, Maisie Williams, may have driven viewers to the web. One thing is certain — Disney’s uplift was EVERYWHERE. From this Audi ad to Walmart’s, as well as their own ads for Black Widow and Disney Plus, The Mouse’s hand remains strong.

The longer I work making ads, the more respect I have for the difficulty of making one that does everything right. When the stakes are this high, why do so many advertisers forget their ground game?

We need something concrete and objective to go back to so we can check our thinking —that’s what Audiolytics™ provides. It’s the measuring stick to ensure that your message is structurally sound for maximum performance.  If you’ve got a Super Bowl spot in the works for 2021, we’d love to help you make it work.

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