For some people—certainly for many of us here at the Ad Council—the Super Bowl is more about the ads than the game itself. And in what will certainly end up going down as one of the best Super Bowls ever, we saw some great ads along the way. This year’s spots felt especially conscious of the implications of social good marketing, and we chose some, from feeding the pig to flirting with cleaning mascots, that stood out to us.
Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way”
Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” recalled founder Adolphus Busch’s immigrant journey to America from Germany in 1857. The ad, with cinematic flair, reinforces the idea that America is a place where anyone with a dream can succeed. In the end, the spot ultimately adheres to sentiments of work ethic, inclusivity and overcoming adversity that are central to the American cultural narrative.
Audi’s “Drive Progress”
Audi’s “Drive Progress” spot asserted its commitment to equal pay in the workplace with an old car commercial standard: a go-kart race. A man muses about what to tell his daughter when she faces adversity as she cruises around a go-kart track. The dad’s pessimistic voiceover continues as the race progresses and his daughter expertly navigates around her male counterparts. Not until the end, when she wins the race by a split second and the pair celebrate together, does the father ruminate that “maybe I’ll be able to tell her something different.” The commercial reinforces gender equality in a way that doesn’t emphasize persecution, but highlights opportunity instead.
Kia’s “Hero’s Journey”
Melissa McCarthy delivers as an accident-prone environmental activist in Kia’s “Hero’s Journey.” While her well-intentioned attempts to save the environment end in catastrophe, the idea that there is more than one way to be environmentally conscious is a significant one. Our recycling campaign also celebrates the heroism of small actions in saving our environment. Whether it’s an eco-friendly car, saving the whales or recycling, being environmentally conscious is always something to be proud of.
Mr. Clean’s “The Cleaner of Your Dreams
Another ad with a gender equality acknowledgement was Mr. Clean’s “The Cleaner of Your Dreams,” which took a…sexier interpretation of the brand’s longtime mascot. The spot features Mr. Clean flirtatiously tidying up around the house while a woman looks on with ill-concealed desire. When this seductive Mr. Clean turns out to be her normal husband, the wife’s passion is undeterred. The message that a man who cleans is irresistibly attractive is an amusing one that successfully undermines traditional gender roles.
SoFi’s “Together” ad resonated with anyone who owes money on student loans or is familiar with the Ad Council’s Financial Literacy campaign. SoFi’s idea is to recognize the burden that student loans place on recent graduates, and offer them a thoughtful way to refinance. While it may not seem like a conventional ‘social issues’ ad, it’s one that is sure to strike home with big spenders and penny pinchers alike.
Making a good ad is difficult enough, and creating a ‘social good’ ad that threads all of the requisite needles of cultural relevance is nearly impossible. None of these ads are perfect, but each of them offers a cause—whether that’s fairness, the environment, opportunity or financial prudence—that is admirable.