Super Bowl 50 ads employ humor, candor and side-show freakiness

Three notable campaigns are grabbing early attention for a creepy combo creature, dozens of dashing Dachshunds and an unlikely source ranting about irresponsible behavior.

Branding experts are calling Super Bowl 50 the “modern Super Bowl.”

To best stick in the minds of consumers, marketers and advertisers aren’t too concerned with “staying on message.” Instead, they’re seeking to shock, charm and challenge the game’s millions of viewers. The goal is to be memorable.

Though some chose to focus on fan engagement and product placement, marketers for three leading consumer brands have come up with these distinctive campaigns and ads:

Mountain Dew gets weird

It’s been 15 years since PepsiCo advertised its neon soft drink during the Super Bowl. To market its reemergence, its brand managers are going bold.

To promote its latest concoction, Kickstart, the beverage maker released an ad that features what Tech insider called, “a monstrous Frankenstein-like creature dubbed PuppyMonkeyBaby, with a baby’s legs, a monkey’s torso and a puppy’s head.”

The obscure nature of the ad stoked discussion on Twitter:

The shock factor worked in the brand’s favor, even if consumers seemed to be more afraid of the three-component drink than encouraged to try it.

RELATED: Escalate your social media game at Ragan’s Disney best practices summit.

Check out the ad here.

Kraft Heinz goes for the funny bone

Marketing managers at Kraft Heinz know that Dachshunds—playfully referred to as “wiener dogs” by some—make people laugh.

They also know that when consumers see hot dogs, they often think of condiments: mustard, ketchup and so on. This is the simple objective of the brand’s Super Bowl 50 commercial, “Wiener Stampede.”

“The stampede was a highly visual way for us to remind people of the irresistible taste of Heinz,” Michelle St. Jacques, Kraft Heinz’s vice president of marketing for condiments and sauces, says in a press release.

The humorous TV spot invites consumers to meet the entire “family” of Heinz condiments, as part of a new campaign called “Meet the Ketchups.” The bounding Dachshunds facilitate the introductions.

“When people think about Heinz they usually think about ketchup, but we actually have a much bigger family,” St. Jacques told Mashable. “We wanted to make sure we did it in a compelling visual way, and what is more compelling than a stampede of hot dogs?”

Check out the Heinz ad here.

This is, of course, not the first visual association between Dachshunds and frankfurters, as the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council explains.

Budweiser has Helen Mirren rail against drunken driving

In the seconds before actress Helen Mirren reaches for an “ice cold” Budweiser, she uses some pretty vicious language.

“I’m Helen Mirren, a notoriously frank and uncensored British lady,” she begins the ad. “If you drive drunk, you are a short-sighted, utterly useless, oxygen wasting, human form of pollution.”

In its PSA-style Super Bowl spot, Budweiser takes a brusque approach to talking about drunken driving. Rather than asking beer drinkers to “drink responsibly,” or “enjoy in moderation”—as many brand strategists have employed in the past—brand managers offer Mirren, who doesn’t beat around the bush.

This isn’t the first time Budweiser has advocated against drunken driving. In 2005, the brand aired a commercial spotlighting Cedric the Entertainer as a dance-happy designated driver.

With this ad however, there’s a more serious tone. In order to strike an emotional chord with consumers, Budweiser is being brutally honest about an issue that has affected many Americans.

“So, stop it,” Mirren concludes.

Check out the ad here.

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