#44 – Which Super Bowl ads were #ReputationRoadkill and which were #ReputationRainmakers?

#44 – Which Super Bowl ads were #ReputationRoadkill and which were #ReputationRainmakers?

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Some were cute, some were thought-provoking, and some were just weird, but which ones had the most impact on the advertiser’s brand?

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

  • We rate the reputation impact of some of the most talked-about Super Bowel ads of 2018.

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal:                  Welcome back, and for this show, we’re gonna assume that you watched the recent Super Bowl. And if you didn’t at least watch the Super Bowl, we’re gonna hope that you caught up on all the ads. Maybe you headed to YouTube and watched the ads, because it’s gonna be kind of important. Otherwise you’re gonna be somewhat lost, ’cause this week we’re gonna run through some of the ads that caught our attention, not just ’cause they were funny or cute or stirring, but because we felt like they had a positive or negative impact on the reputation of the brand that was running them. Maybe it lifted them, maybe it didn’t help them, and so forth. You’ll get the idea as we go through this.

So we’re gonna kick it off, and the obvious one to start with is the Tide commercial, because I don’t know about you guys, but I really couldn’t recall any Tide commercials. They all blended into each other. But this one really stood out from the outset because they stereotyped all of the types of commercials you were gonna see during the Super Bowl, demonstrated that it wasn’t those ads because all the clothes were squeaky-clean, so it must be a Tide commercial, but my favorite part of all of this is that they kind of left you hanging you that, hey, does this mean every Super Bowl commercial is a Tide commercial? And they sprinkled in enough follow-up ads, Erin, where they were actually Tide commercials, and it got me watching every ad, wondering, is this gonna be a Tide commercial?

Erin Jones:                  I absolutely loved the Tide ads. I did the same thing. I was second-guessing everything I watched. I was even waiting for a player to pop up during the game and mention Tide with their clean uniform. I think that first of all, they took the focus away from the traditional 1950s housewife doing laundry while the family is out enjoying themselves. Like you said, boring, predictable, and they made fun of all of the other ads, but they did it in such a tongue-in-cheek way that it wasn’t offensive to any of the other companies, and I think this was a great way to take focus off of the national, I don’t know if you’d call it an epidemic, of these teenage kids eating the Tide pods. They’ve had so much negative connotation that’s not even their fault lately, that this brought it back to that squeaky-clean, fun, uplifting kind of advertisement that I think everybody really enjoyed watching it.

Andy Beal:                  And how bad do you think the marketing folks at Persil are feeling because their ad, they may have thought they had something really clever, breaking the … What do they call it? The fourth wall or whatever they call it, but even that ad, I was thinking to myself, wait, is this gonna be a Tide commercial as well? So I mean, for Tide, like you said, they’ve had a little bit of negative publicity, not really through any real fault of their own, but this really lifted their brand and is highly memorable, and it was definitely the ad that everybody that I know was talking about.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. It was fantastic, it was well put together, and it was just really fun.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. And I think we’re gonna be talking about it some more. I would be shocked if they don’t maybe extend this, because I think this is one that could be worthy of some follow-up ads and extending the storyline. However, I do kind of feel like the Bud Light Dilly Dilly storyline is starting to kind of be too drawn-out. What are your thoughts on that one?

Erin Jones:                  This one disappointed me. I was actually really bummed out when I watched this ad. I figured if they were gonna use the Dilly Dilly line that they could do something a little bit better than they did, and I was really, really sad to not see the Clydesdales. Budweiser usually does such a strongly emotional, heartfelt ad related to the Clydesdales, and I look forward to it every year. It’s one of those commercials that’s kind of a tearjerker for me, and it didn’t happen, and it really bummed me out.

Andy Beal:                  Right. And we talk about the investment that us as consumers make into a brand’s reputation, so it’s not just what the brands tell us anymore. It’s our expectation. It’s the emotional investment we make into a brand, and those Clydesdales during the Super Bowl is something we expect from Budweiser. It’s an exchange. We’re saying, “Look, we’re gonna consider you the king of beers because part of that is that you run these great commercials with the Clydesdales. Even if it’s a cameo appearance, then we’re expecting that.”

And then you kind of broke that brand promise, and they did have a heartwarming commercial about the cans of water, but the Bud Light one, the Dilly Dilly, I mean that one … The whole Dilly Dilly thing I thought was kind of cute to start with. We’ve talked about that on the previous shows, but now I feel like they’re just trying to come up with really just storylines in order to just kind of draw it out, and I think it’s played itself out. I think they need to move on, and I was really disappointed with all the ads, really, that they ran.

Erin Jones:                  I agree and they could have done the cheesy Dilly Dilly thing, and with even this commercial in particular, they had a knight come in to help people. The horses could have trampled through right after him. I mean, just that quick appearance. I feel like the Budweiser Clydesdales are part of Super Bowl culture for a lot of us, and it really fell flat for me.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. It went flat for me. Also losing its fizz, the Diet Coke twisted mango commercial. Now, I watched this, and I almost felt like somebody owed me some money back because I could not believe what I was watching. It was this woman that took a sip of this twisted mango and then started to do this crazy dance with a monologue that went with it, and I kind of was just shocked. I’m like, what am I watching here? And I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe Coca Cola just really doesn’t want you to drink Diet Coke anymore, because A. They’re coming up with these really weird flavors, twisted mango, and B. They’ve got equally weird commercials to run with ’em.

Erin Jones:                  You know, that is not a side effect that I want when consuming a beverage, if I’m just going to break out into really uncomfortable Napoleon-Dynamite-style dancing in public. I am awkward enough all by myself. And like you said, the idea of mango Coke has absolutely no appeal to me at all, so I feel like they wasted a great opportunity here. I felt like the visuals when the commercial first started were fantastic. Really bright colors, not a lot going on in the background, and I spent the whole time watching that with my mouth open, just kind of blinking like a goldfish, because I did not understand where they were going with it, and I still don’t really feel like I got any closure there.

Andy Beal:                  No. My gut feeling, and I’ve not read anything on this so it could be completely wrong or I’m maybe stealing someone else’s idea—I don’t know—but they really push in the Zero Sugar, and I think that’s where they think the future is of the brand, is Zero Sugar, and it’s almost as if they’re now trying to reinvent Diet Coke as, “Hey! Nobody really drinks just plain Diet Coke anymore. We’ve turned it into this new product that’s got flavors, and we want you to drink those if you want some kind of weird flavor, but if you want a diet version of Coke, then we want you to pay attention to Zero Sugar.” So it’s almost like they’re trying to reinvent an iconic brand, and I feel like they’re trying to push a square peg into a round hole.

Erin Jones:                  I agree. I didn’t care for it. One thing I will give them, though, is that at least it wasn’t incredibly offensive. The Dodge Ram Martin Luther King ad I feel like was not only insensitive and inappropriate. It just, it really felt flat for me, especially right next to … Toyota had their good odds ad with the Paralympians and it was really motivational and empowering, and it wasn’t a, “Buy our trucks,” ad. It was a, “Hey, we’re saluting these athletes,” where I feel like Dodge tried to shoehorn a really incredible Martin Luther King speech into, “Buy our trucks,” and I just found it really off-putting.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, they should have seen the potential backlash there, and they did receive some backlash for using an icon’s iconic words for a truck commercial. Yeah, the moment that aired, I’m like, okay, this is not gonna sit well with a lot of people, and I don’t really feel like that was a smart decision to use his words.

But then for me, likewise, the Toyota, with the Paralympian, I was kind of a little bit … I don’t know. I was neutral on that one, because I think you’re right. It was a feel-good story, and they’re not gonna lose anything from that, and they may gain a little bit of reputation points because it was really well-done. It was very emotional. I was pulling for the Olympian, and I liked the way it counted down the odds. It was really good.

But it didn’t make me wanna buy a Toyota truck, and so it was a little bit confusing, ’cause I think sometimes brands have kind of gone to this, “Hey, let’s tug at the heartstrings even if we can’t really find a tie-in to our product,” and I think they’ve kind of gone a little bit too far. However, if you’re gonna go a little bit too far, Toyota did the right thing and Dodge did the bad thing.

Erin Jones:                  I agree, and I think Dodge had all the right visuals, the black and white. Everything looked great, and especially coming from … One of my favorite Super Bowl ads of all time was their God made a farmer ad. I feel like that really worked well because farmers use trucks. It makes sense and like you said, the product goes with a theme of what they’re talking about, and this one just … I cringed when I was watching it, probably for the same reason as you. I was watching it going, “Oh, we’re gonna be talking about this one,” and I feel like they could have done a lot better with what they were working with.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. All right, let’s move on because I wanna talk a little bit about the Wendy’s commercial, and what struck me with the Wendy’s commercial is first of all, they went straight at McDonald’s making comparisons between McDonald’s frozen hamburgers and the iceberg that took down the Titanic, so they were right really—pardon the expression—up in their grill. But was interesting for me is that this seemed a little bit different from the commercials, little bit more aggressive than the commercials maybe Wendy’s normally runs, but very much in line with the persona that Wendy’s has in social media.

So if you follow Wendy’s in social media, on Twitter in particular, they have this kind of come-at-me-bro, kind of aggressive voice where they’re not afraid to take on other brands, but I wonder if that translates to the TV audience. I wonder if many people watching the Super Bowl would know that that is Wendy’s voice, or if they would see this commercial in bad taste. What was your take on it?

Erin Jones:                  I felt exactly the same way. I’ve been a follower of their social media for a while, and I think it’s really, really cutting-edge and fun to watch, but I think it’s fun to watch because it’s a little bit scary, because it’s risky. We don’t see TV commercials like this. We see TV commercials where brands imply how much better they are than their main competitor or another brand, but the fact that they actually used McDonald’s name, back from traditional advertising, this is a huge no-no. So I’m curious to see if McDonald’s is gonna clap back or if they’re gonna go the better person route. Definitely the first thing I thought when I watched it though was that their social media team had gotten involved with this ad because it’s not at all like their … Traditionally, their TV ads seem to be a lot more squeaky-clean happy-go-lucky, and likening your competitor to the Titanic is bold.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, and when I do reputation audits for companies, one of the sections that I have in there is a section called congruence, and I’m looking at the voice and tone across different channels to make sure that they are using the same messaging and tone, and so if this is the start of Wendy’s taking that social media tone. Let’s say for example they’ve decided that hey, this is really effective on line. We like this tone. It resonates with our target audience.

And so now they’ve decided to take this voice to other medium, to TV, radio, whatever it may be, and this is a deliberate effort to do that, then I think my hat is off to them, that this is a bold move still. They probably need to do something bold if they’re trying to compete, but they gotta follow through with it, right? So I think if this is just a one-off, I think it falls flat. If this is a new concerted effort to show congruence across all of their channels, that they are the kind of a brand that is going to call out and tease and rib their competitors, then I think, in that basis, it could be a strong move for them.

Erin Jones:                  I think so too. I think one thing that they’re gonna need to be really careful of is being able to handle what comes back at them, especially with the quality of their products. We’re talking about fast food here, so there are a lot of easy, easy jabs from a multitude of competitors, especially if someone like Panera decides to jump in the mix and talk about, “Yeah, well, you’re better than McDonald’s, but what is that saying?” You know? Okay. So it’ll be really interesting to see just because they’re using unfrozen beef if the rest of their product freshness will keep up with this fresh new attitude.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. All right. Moving on to something a lot more lighthearted, you really liked the NFL touchdown celebration commercial, didn’t you?

Erin Jones:                  I loved it, and not to age myself, but I am a child of the ’80s, and Dirty Dancing is a part of who I am from watching it over and over as a kid, or I guess probably a little older than a kid, but they took the Time of My Life scene from the Dirty Dancing movie and acted it out. It was Eli Manning, and now I don’t have the other player’s name. I had it written down here.

Andy Beal:                  Was it Odell?

Erin Jones:                  Yeah.

Andy Beal:                  Odell Beckham Jr.

Erin Jones:                  Yes, thank you.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah.

Erin Jones:                  They did a fantastic job acting out the I Had the Time of My Life dance scene from Dirty Dancing. It was very cheesy. It really lightened the mood, and I think it was really smart of the NFL to do this, because so many people were unhappy about Tom Brady being in the game again, and watching the Patriots go to the Super Bowl again when they’ve kind of become the most hated team in the NFL, and so I think this shifted the focus a little bit to remind people that there were some humans behind the helmets, and I think they did a great job.

Andy Beal:                  Well I think also all the protests that have happened throughout the season, players taking a knee, has really brought some negative publicity, and this was certainly a opportunity for them to show a more lighthearted side. I think that for Manning in particular, it was not something I associated with his character, so kudos to him for doing that. Yeah, it was interesting. I think it caught me by surprise, ’cause I watching it thinking to myself, well what’s this advertising? And it wasn’t ’til the end when I realized, oh, they’re just actually advertising the NFL. Not sure what Dirty Dancing’s got to do with that, but it was cute.

Yeah, I think this is the kind of commercial that maybe we’ve come to expect from brands down the years during the Super Bowl, is just do something that entertains us, because we’re already being entertained by the Super Bowl, and so having something fun with a product that we recognize is a good move. And so yeah, I don’t know if it kind of repairs all the negative sentiment being flung at the NFL for various different reasons, but it was lighthearted. It was cute. I’m the same with you. I mean if you’ve grown up and you’ve watched that movie, how can you not have a positive feeling towards anybody that wants to act out that scene, even if it is two guys going for it instead of Patrick Swayze, and … Her name escapes me, but you know.

Erin Jones:                  Yes, even the part where he threw his head back and laughed like she did in the movie. They really had it down and I think even if this doesn’t humanize the NFL, it’s gonna help humanize the players, and they’re the ones taking the brunt of all of this, the bad press for the NFL, so I think it was fun and lighthearted, and I think it was probably nice for Eli Manning to step out of his brother’s shadow for a little while. Peyton’s gotten a lot of press lately, especially here in Denver, and it was fun to see some personality behind the players.

Andy Beal:                  All right. Cool. All right, we’re gonna finish up with perhaps the most controversial ad that ran during the Super Bowl, not because of anything scandalous or anything that was said, but the fact that there is not actually going to be a new Crocodile Dundee movie that we were all excited to see, but the whole thing was an elaborate ploy to promote Australia’s tourism, and it was amazingly well-executed. Just about everybody fell for it. Nobody saw it coming. And it was funny that even in the commercial, one of the actors didn’t see it coming, and it was brilliantly done and made, and everybody believed there was a movie. There’s people petitioning that there should be a movie.

But at the same time, I don’t know. I feel like I just wanna boycott Australia for a little bit for just kind of deceiving us and making us think that something awesome was gonna happen and it really was just a commercial for Australia. Now, I’m just teasing, ’cause I love Australia, but what are your thoughts, Erin?

Erin Jones:                  Speaking again of children from the ’80s, this was another film that we grew up on, the cheesiness of this film, and I saw a preview ad—it must have been on the internet a week or two ago—and got so excited. The cast looked phenomenal. The fact that they got buy-in from all of these awesome actors to do this, and they cranked up again, cranked up the cheesiness of it, and Chris Hemsworth. I mean, come on. Anybody’s gonna go watch that movie.

The plot was hilarious, and I feel like now they really could follow up and turn this into a film, and it would be a great idea for a follow-up. Now, I do know people that are very, very upset with Australia as a whole right now, and I think it’s funny that so many people got excited enough that when they got let down by the fact that it’s not really a movie that there’s kind of a visceral reaction from some people about this. That’s a good ad.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. No, it fooled everybody. It was very well done. I think that I’ll be shocked if somebody doesn’t green light and commission a follow-up movie, and if they can get the exact actors that were in the commercial that’s great. I liked that Paul Hogan had a little cameo. He’s Paul Hogan, right? Yeah, he had a little cameo in the TV ad.

The only thing I’m concerned is, that was a really big budget ad, and I wonder how many people are actually gonna be persuaded to go and visit Australia, because I’ve been to Australia, beautiful country. Been there three times. It’s a long way to go when there are lots of other places you could visit, and I just wonder how many people watching the Super Bowl are actually gonna be stirred up enough by this ad to actually go visit Australia. As a ad for the brand, which is Tourism Australia, I wonder how effective it’s actually gonna be.

Erin Jones:                  You know, and it’s an expensive trip too. It’s not like you get there and everything’s half of what it costs over here, so I think you have a good point, and I was wondering … In the last year or so, I’ve seen a lot of advertising for Qantas Air, one of the main airlines in Australia over here as well, so they must have some indication that pushing this is returning somehow, because I feel like I’ve seen a lot lately as far as the get to Australia advertising. And I definitely wanna go, but like you said, dollar for dollar, I’m gonna be looking, it’s gonna be competing against some really great places, so I don’t know how much money they’re gonna get back on that ad, but I sure loved it, and I think people are gonna be talking about it for a long time.

Andy Beal:                  Now what if in some kind of weird Inception twist, there’s a third level here where this is actually a Tide commercial. Now that’s something that could happen.

Erin Jones:                  Well, they were squeaky-clean. Everybody looked very, very nice for being out in Australia.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, that would be a great tie-in, if Tide ends up being … Anyway, we’re kinda speculating here and getting a little bit crazy. Those are our picks for the Super Bowl ads. If you’ve got a favorite that you really liked, or there’s a ad that you think was a big miss, then head to our Facebook page, /andybealorm, or head to andybeal.com, leave a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts. We’d also love to have your questions if you have a question about reputation management, or if there’s a story that you’d like to share with us, please do so. Erin, always a pleasure chatting with you. Hope you’ll join me again next time.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. Can’t wait.

Andy Beal:                  And thank you guys for listening. We hope you’ll tune in again. Thanks a lot, and bye-bye.

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.