Humor and small business support are the stars of NFL season opener ads
After a year of recuts and “unprecedented times,” the new spots that premiered during the first NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans featured a welcome bevvy of humor, hope, and normality.
According to Mintel’s analysis of MediaRadar data, brands spent nearly $30 million in total to capture the attention of nearly 23 million consumers. While new creative of any kind is exciting in a year riddled with production challenges, there were a few spots that stood out from the pack.
Google – Let Them Know You’re Open & Return of the Mack – $2.5M
Google ran two new spots designed to support small business owners. One showed how Google’s free tools can help consumers know about adjusted hours or online delivery, coupled with found footage of small business owners showcasing their creativity. The standout was an ad targeted to consumers urging them to support small businesses in their community. The ad took a creative tip from Facebook’s 2020 Super Bowl spot Ready to Rock. The 1990s jam “Return of the Mack” plays while a variety of businesses with the name “Mack” tell consumers that they’re open. The creative integration of animated tool functionality with real small businesses owners struck a positive chord.
Apple – Oversharing – $2.6M
Apple’s spot stood out as it leveraged absurdity and simplicity to catch the attention of the viewer. In the ad, different people shared their online activity, from announcing their search for divorce lawyers, to revealing their purchases of prenatal vitamins and pregnancy tests, but quickly got serious when more private information, like credit card numbers, was revealed. While creative is tongue-in-cheek, its greatest strength was its relatability—we all have online activity we’d like to stay private—which evokes empathy from the viewer. This was a clever way to showcase how critical it is to ensure that data stays private and protected. And this ad is a smart play on Apple’s part: In a time where Big Tech companies are under a microscope for how they manage user data, Apple positions itself as an advocate for data privacy and the consumer.
Truist – Main Street Love – $600K
While BB&T and SunTrust completed their merger in December 2019, the new Truist branding has been slow to rollout. Truist appropriately picked a powerful, live televised event to unveil its first mass media spot. Creative shows a dog sadly wandering the abandoned main street of a small town, only to be delighted when business doors open back up and he is able to enjoy a dog treat at each and every one. Truist promotes its support of 100,000 small businesses and astutely notes that if small businesses succeed it’s good for everyone. The ad is successful building positive momentum and hope. Plus, everyone loves dogs.
TikTok – It Starts on TikTok – $1.7M
TikTok shirked political controversy and debuted a new spot profiling the platform as a home for creators and collaborators of all ages and demographics. The spot features soft acoustics from Walter Martin accompanied by shots of some of the more notable trends and challenges started on the video-based social platform this year. The ad succeeds in showing TikTok as a home for all, and a place to bring people together when they’re more apart during the pandemic. It was announced a few days after the spot that Oracle officially won the bid to be TikTok’s “trusted technology partner” in the United States. With this partnership in place, we can expect to see more from TikTok on national TV in the coming months.
Bud Light – Delivery – $2.2M
Fans may not be able to enjoy all the perks of in-stadium viewing, but Bud Light & Bud Light Seltzer are doing their part to bring the game to fans watching at home. The new spot shows the Bud Light beer guy walking through a neighborhood commenting on expertly trimmed lawns and offering up cold beverages. The direct CTA ad actually takes visitors to a store locator hub where drinkers can find a place to buy Bud products near them, or find out what restaurants near them are open for takeout. While it may not actually be the Bud guy coming to your door, the campaign does build on multi-device behavior, which is so common during live sporting events.
What We Think
Small business support will be the chief motif of fall and holiday creative, with brands across categories making it easier for consumers to support and shop as much as they’re able. We predict NFL games will be the top desired buy for brands launching new creatives this fall. In some ways, that’s comforting. The sport associated most with humorous ads and top-of-funnel creative launches will retain this time-honored tradition even in a year of so much unpredictability.