Viewer's Guide to 2014 Super Bowl Ads / by Lewis Lin

4 min read

Viewer's Guide to 2014 Super Bowl Ads

Today is the Super Bowl! For those of you watching the game, studies say that 78% of you will be looking forward to the ads. To increase your viewing pleasure, I've penned a short Viewer's Guide to 2014 SuperBowl Ads.

Read on to impress your friends and critique ads like a marketing guru. And for those of you with an upcoming marketing interview, you can use this to answer that dreaded marketing interview question, “Tell me your favorite (or least favorite) TV ad.”

Evaluating an Ad

I have a six-point checklist for critiquing ads. But beer, guacamole, and friends can impair memory. To make it easy to remember, I've shortened it to three and paired it with a football theme, just for the big game:

M emorable 
O h, Product! 
B enefit


The ad has to grab attention. The viewer is making a choice of whether they’re going to stick around or grab a beer. And if they've stuck around, is the ad memorable enough for them to think, discuss, and tweet with their friends?

Oh, Product! 

Creative types tend to produce tear-jerking, Oscar-worthy ads. But this is the Super Bowl, not Sundance. The point of an ad is to pitch products. It has to provide the viewer an idea of what’s being promoted as well as a clear brand association.

My biggest pet peeve these days is tablet commercials. All of them feel similar: inspirational soundtrack and images of a person using a tablet – filled with hope and potential. Heck would I know if it’s promoting an iPad, a Nexus, a Galaxy Tab, or Kindle Fire. Commercials that don’t clarify what’s been promoted won’t drive sales.


Lastly, the ad has to explain the product benefit AND produce evidence why they can back up that claim. It’s not enough to say that you've got an ad for Coca-Cola, Camry, or Charmin. An ad should tell consumers why they should choose their brand over the competition.

Take Volvo for example. You buy a Volvo because their cars are safer than others. They invented the seat belt and reinforce their car with the strongest steel possible. If you’re in the market for a safe, family car, it’s Volvo all the way.

Ads to Keep an Eye Out For

I've scoured the web for 2014 Super Bowl commercials. Keep your eye out for these three ads:

Fan Favorite: Budweiser’s "Puppy Love"

Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” commercial is the story of a friendship between a puppy and a Clydesdale. With 32 million views on YouTube, it’s getting rave reviews for cuteness and an appealing Romeo-and-Juliet story line. I believe the spot will create strong brand awareness for Budweiser. However, the ad doesn’t create a strong connection with its beers, and the product benefit is too subtle and vague. Will thead actually increase sales?

Lewis’ scorecard 
Memorable: A- 
Oh! Product: F 
Benefit: D


Ad with the Best Celebrity Tie-In: T-Mobile’s “Tim Tebow” 

Tim Tebow takes center stage in this ad, with a fun-filled, self-deprecating performance. T-Mobile cleverly pairs their brand benefit with the NFL’s most famous player that’s not currently playing in the NFL.

Lewis’ scorecard 
Memorable: A- 
Product: B- 
Benefit: B+


My Favorite Super Bowl 2014 Ad (so far): Volkswagen’s “Wings” 

Volkswagen clearly articulates a “long-lasting” car brand message in this memorable (albeit corny) ad. There is one room for improvement: Volkswagen is widely perceived as having unreliable cars relative to their competitors. Perhaps the goal is to change brand perception, but nevertheless, the “long-lasting” claim is a bit of a stretch.

Lewis’ scorecard 
Memorable: A- 
Product: A- 
Benefit: B+


Final Takeaway

Developing an ad that effectively promotes a product to increase sales WHILE grabbing your attention with a memorable story is NOT EASY.

Pay attention to today’s ads, and see which one does the best job of achieving both goals.