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Super Bowl LII: Did your favorite ad win?

The Philadelphia Eagles were the victors on the field at Super Bowl LII, but what about the all-important ads? As Extreme Reach’s 2018 Super Bowl advertising coverage winds down, we take a look at the big themes and moments from this year’s Super Bowl spots. What caught viewers’ (and industry critics’) attention? Here are a few of the highlights…

Brands rally around common causes
Whether we’re talking media, politics, or sports, 2017 will likely be remembered as a year dominated by controversy. One result of this contentious atmosphere was that many of this year’s most high-profile Super Bowl spots focused on trying to rally viewers together around common causes and shared humanitarian issues. Consider the commercial from Stella Artois featuring Matt Damon that helped boost awareness for its clean water efforts. Meanwhile, the usually combative T-Mobile chose to avoid discussing its cellular competitors in favor of a spot celebrating racial and gender equality. And in a moving 60-second spot that included the actual general manager of their Cartersville, Georgia brewery, Budweiser highlighted the efforts of its team that provides water to storm victims in the US.

Humor is always a winning formula
For those brands that decided to eschew political or cultural messages, comedy was a reliable option. Among the funny ads getting the most favorable comments from fans and industry insiders were Tide’s clever “Every Ad is a Tide Ad” campaign, M&M’s partnership with Danny DeVito and Amazon’s humorous Alexa ad. An unexpected NFL ad featuring a dancing Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. was yet another crowd-pleaser. “There’s a reason so many marketers are using celebrity combined with comedy — because it breaks through the clutter, delivers the message and gets buzz,” said Aaron Shapiro, CEO of ad agency Huge, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Social media mattered more than ever
It’s also probably no surprise to hear that social media was a key consideration for how many brands created their Super Bowl ads this year. After all, any advertiser investing a reported $5 million on a single ad will want to be sure they get the most for their money, and social media is a great way to extend campaign longevity while boosting consumer conversation. Many brands took this social insight to heart. Kraft, for example, debuted for the first time in the Super Bowl with an ad that featured crowdsourced photos and videos gathered from social. Meanwhile, halftime sponsor Pepsi managed to rise to the top of the Twitter rankings using its #forthefans and #Pepsihalftime hashtags matched to its sponsorship of the Justin Timberlake halftime show.

While there was no single advertising “winner” from this year’s Super Bowl advertising blitz, a couple of common themes did emerge. Whether advertisers decided to focus on humor or humanitarian causes, this year’s Super Bowl campaigns were a reminder of the power of great creative to inspire, educate and entertain consumers.