Playing it Safe: Super Bowl 2019

The good, the bad and the boring

Posted by Nancy Johnson-Hunt

Playing it Safe: Super Bowl 2019

Every year, Super Bowl Sunday is the one day of the year that advertising is not just tolerated but celebrated, studied and extensively discussed. At least in our creative industries. It's no longer relegated to the side lines as a spectator sport. That's just how we treat the game in between the ads.

But this year, the Super Bowl has been and gone, and with it has left some of us perplexed and others disinterested in the type of advertising we witnessed. We know Bud Light doesn't use Corn Syrup in their beer (seriously only America would claim this as a great feat), and Kraft's Devour has brought to light the questionable consumption of its new range of frozen meals. It was strange, to say the least, and yet not surprising. This year, it seems, America decided the political burden was not the public's to bear.


This year most (not all) brands avoided heavy political sentiment.

You see, brands have been riding on the purpose bandwagon for quite some time. If the last three years have taught us anything, it's that brands have to be very clear about what they're trying to achieve. If executed poorly, they risk losing a lot more than YouTube views. Gillette, case in point. This year was different because brands really played it safe. In fact, it seemed like they were actively avoiding addressing the political climate. Bar one, I see you Washington Post. Most of what we witnessed appealed to American sensibilities and steered us in the direction of levity, the essence of which suddenly felt more lacklustre than light-hearted. This year was a far cry from Super Bowl's past: Airbnb, Lumber 84, Audi and Budweiser to name a few. 

While the shallow nature of the ads may be a reaction to the American public, what we saw was a far cry from what we know. These ads are a window into the brands we love -  we've come to expect more than mediocre. The message to brands is to know your audience, don't shy from social or even political discourse, our industry has the privilege of taking a story and crafting a creative experience. Our audience gets that, just do it. Give them the benefit without doubt and stop settling for the status quo.


There were a few favourites, and for two reasons: they were well told and well produced.

So without further ado, at True we cast the polls far and wide for 2019's Super Bowl Ad MVP's. It's no surprise that the ads we gravitated toward were, in our eyes, were well-produced, balanced humour with compassion and others acknowledged the political landscape.


Here were our collective top 5 of the Super Bowl slots, in no particular order:

Tags: Planning, Super Bowl

1. Hyundai: The Elevator

2. Google: 100 Billion Words

3. Washington Post: Democracy Dies in the Darkness

4. Amazon: Not Everything Makes the Cut

5. Mercedes Benz: Say the Word

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