2016 Super Bowl Ads – Part 2: Cute and Fuzzy Wins Us Over

Super Bowl ads are known for playing up our emotions, especially the ones that feature adorable animals. A few brands made the strategic move to include animals in their commercials, and in turn, made us say “awww.” Below are comments from RLF employees who couldn’t resist the cuteness in this year’s ads.
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2016 Super Bowl Ads – Part 1: Celebrities and Pop Culture References Prevail

This year’s Super Bowl game might not have been all that memorable, but the ads are definitely worth talking about. Many commercials made us laugh, some commercials stirred our emotions, and other commercials left us scratching our heads (puppymonkeybaby??). Among this diverse list of TV spots, a common ad strategy emerged: the use of celebrities and pop culture references. Several brands incorporated famous personalities or funny memes into their ad’s message, effectively capturing the viewer’s attention and leaving a lasting impression of the product. Continue reading to find out which RLF staff members identified their favorite ads in this category.
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Super Bowl Ads Draw on Our Emotions

While several of this year’s Super Bowl ads tended to the more serious or focused on generating a laugh, there were also several that seemed designed to draw on our sentimentality and emotions, such as Nissan’s “With Dad” commercial.
In our final review of the best 2015 Super Bowl commercials, we will focus on these more heartwarming, and often tear-evoking, ads.
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2015 Super Bowl Commercials Take a More Serious Tone

Super Bowl ads have historically been funny and clever, focused more on selling beer, junk food and cars than creating serious dialogue about societal issues. However, many of this year’s Super Bowl ads varied from that course and instead focused on a wide range of serious issues, starting with a highly controversial commercial by Nationwide looking at accidental deaths among children, and also including ads discussing cyberbullying, domestic violence and gender stereotypes.
Tomorrow we will look at some of the more humorous ads from this year’s Super Bowl, but today a few RLF employees will share their insights into some of the more serious ads from yesterday’s big game.
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Super Bowl Commercials Stirred Our Emotions

A good Super Bowl commercial (or really any commercial) will make the viewer feel something – it will make us laugh, it will make us cry, but it will find something to help us make an emotional connection with both the commercial and the product that it is selling. This year’s Super Bowl commercials were no different.

Name:  Steffany Reeve, director of consumer and lifestyle brands

My Favorite Commercial: “Empowering” from Microsoft

Why I Liked It: Since the actual game was depressing to watch with my husband who is a big Broncos fan, I was drawn to commercials that made me laugh, inspired me and tugged on my heart strings in a positive way. One ad that nearly brought me to tears was Microsoft’s “Empowering” spot. The commercial was narrated by former NFL player Steve Gleason, who uses voice recognition software to communicate with his son and shares the message that technology can improve our lives and can help create miracles. The compilation of scenes that included a young boy walking and playing baseball with artificial legs, a soldier using Skype to watch the birth of his baby, a blind man using technology to paint, and a women hearing herself for the first time, was captivating and powerful. To provoke emotion and capture the audience’s hearts is an ad style that I believe will prove effective and memorable for Microsoft.

Name:  Emily Luciano, communications manager

My Favorite Commercial: “A Hero’s Welcome” from Budweiser

Why I Liked It: This commercial resonated with me on so many levels. Let’s start with the professional level. As a communications professional, it’s my opinion that good communication — whether it a pitch to a writer, a story in a magazine or a television commercial — should illicit some kind of emotion from the person on the receiving end. “A Hero’s Welcome” did that. With its cast of real people and idyllic Main Street, flag-waving parade, I feel that it captured the essence of America. I imagine that millions of viewers felt nostalgic and proud, and for a mere moment, forgot about the travesty of a game.
On a personal level, this commercial had me in tears. All the leading men in my life — my husband, father, brother, grandfather, stepfather and father-in-law — are either active Army or Army vets. I am unable to put into words the amount of respect I have for our servicemen and women, and I’m elated that Budweiser chose to honor a real life solider so publicly. Not only did they honor him, but I felt like they also perfectly captured the wide range of emotion wrapped up in homecomings. From the nervousness and anticipation to happiness and elation, I felt like I was welcoming my soldier home as I watched!
Of course, after the commercial my husband turned to me and joked, “That’s what I expect for my next homecoming.” Any chance for a round two, Budweiser?

Name:  April McGibbony, office manager

My Favorite Commercial: “Puppy Love” from Budweiser

Why I Liked It: As the owner of a Lab and a lover of the breed, I thought this was the sweetest commercial and truly captured both the loyalty and playfulness of the breed. The commercial brought a tear to my eye.

The Best of the So-So: RLF Reviews This Year’s Super Bowl Commercials

By now everyone knows that last night’s Super Bowl featured a blowout game and very few truly memorable commercials. As RLF’s Creative Director Ron Irons put it: “The game was sad. The commercials a tragedy. What few commercials I watched were boring and full of borrowed interest. The good ones are rare these days.”
However, there were a few bright spots among the mostly unremarkable Super Bowl commercials, and for the next few days, we will be highlighting some of the commercials that captured our attention.

Name:  Monty Hagler, CEO

Favorite Commercial: “America The Beautiful” from Coca-Cola

Why I Liked It: In an evening that featured a disappointing football match-up and an even more dismal array of commercials, Coca-Cola demonstrated why it’s one of the most popular brands on earth. What started as another ad featuring a tried-and-true patriotic song morphed into a beautiful, moving and unexpected visual and auditory feast. Seven languages from diverse cultures, blended together to celebrate our country’s rich tapestry. The fact that the ad ignited immediate criticism and controversy were proof that it touched people and stirred their emotions. America is a country that still inspires the world to treasure our freedoms and simple joys. That’s worth a Coke and a smile.

Name:  Michelle Rash, director of financial and professional services brands

Favorite Commercials: “The Phone Call” from Radio Shack and “Wings” from Volkswagen
Why I Liked Them: While on the surface, these commercials may seem very different, I see a common thread running through them – brands accepting, and poking fun at, the reality of how they are perceived in the marketplace.
While I am certainly not an electronics genius, or even a likely Radio Shack customer, my perception of the store is that is has become out-of-date and irrelevant with the rise of other electronics stores and the ability to order anything you need online. I think this commercial did a great job of embracing that “stuck in the 80s” reputation, using it to announce a new, updated Radio Shack. Based on the commercial, my guess is the key demographic for the “new” Radio Shack will be people in their 30s and 40s, and showcasing so many icons of the 80s in the commercial successfully grabbed their attention, created a sense of nostalgia and got them talking – at least if my Facebook and Twitter feeds are any indication.
Likewise, Volkswagen embraces the car company’s reputation for making very reliable, dependable cars and uses it to create an entertaining, and slightly unexpected, commercial, as the company’s engineers are rewarded with wings for each car that reaches 100,000 miles. Today, so many companies take themselves too seriously, so it was refreshing to see Volkswagen find a creative approach to discussing, and enhancing, its reputation in the market.

Six Social Media Lessons to Learn from Super Bowl Sunday

By Caroline Nobles
Social media professionals and sports fans alike are eagerly awaiting Super Bowl XLVI this Sunday night. Debates have already blossomed around the showdown between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Will the event be a rematch of Super Bowl XLII or a sequel to the game in 2007?
Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl bash or curling up on the couch to watch the Patriots, Giants or the highly publicized Volkswagen commercial, social media will certainly be abuzz with Super Bowl fever. As many of us are professional and personal users of social media, we can learn from athletes and teams using the same channels. What are they doing to get results, and how can we do the same?

Photo courtesy of emma.kate's Flickr photostream.

Be engaged and active.
Athletes and teams who use social media successfully are constantly adding and updating content. They talk about upcoming games, chat with other athletes, promote special events or banter with rivals. Their goals may differ, but successful users are continuously linking, updating, following and talking.
Think outside the box.
When NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement from basketball, he didn’t follow the norm and hold a press conference. Instead, he posted a 15-second video to Tout, thanking his fans and informing them he was stepping down from the game. Last fall, to engage people via Twitter in the Battle for the Golden Egg between Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State painted #HAILSTATE in one end zone. “Hashtagging” the end zone was an innovative way to marry sports enthusiasm with social media. Generating ideas and tactics that might be slightly outside your comfort zone just may provide the inspiration needed to start conversation.
Follow athletes in and out of your sport.
Athletes follow other athletes via Twitter in their own sport and outside of their sport. There are always opportunities to learn from others in and out of your field. Eli Manning, quarterback for the Giants, doesn’t only follow his teammates on Twitter;  he also follows NBA star LeBron James, quarterbacks Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, and ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols.  Use social media to keep up with colleagues, competitors and industry news. Untapped ideas, pitching opportunities, marketing tools, story ideas and other useful content is always available.
Promote yourself.
Sports teams and athletes use social media to talk about themselves, their products and their brands. With the Super Bowl quickly approaching, players on the Patriots and Giants aren’t talking about The World Series. Sports bloggers aren’t blogging about the U.S. Open. No, athletes, writers, reporters and sponsors are tweeting, posting, liking and blogging about the Big Game. So, use social media to your advantage and promote yourself. Promote a new product or brand through Facebook or YouTube. Blog about awards or recognitions your company, client or product earns. Launch a Twitter campaign to increase website awareness. The possibilities are endless.
Avoid the penalty flag.
While many sports figures maintain a professional image when using social media, there are athletes who abuse the privilege.  Once you start using social media, you place yourself in the public eye. A seemingly innocent status update or tweet may be misinterpreted and result in the loss of a client or sponsorship. Champion dropped its endorsement deal with Rashard Mendenhall, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, after an ill-timed and controversial tweet. Proofread and edit your content, and don’t post in frustration or anger. Maintain a professional image – one that demonstrates your expertise and mirrors your values.
Set goals and break records.
Whether you’re trying to break into the social media scene or become more engaged, set reachable goals. We can’t all be like Tim Tebow and set a record of 9,420 tweets per second. We can, however, set objectives such as tweeting at least three times per day, posting links and updates to Facebook once a day, blogging two to three times per month, and building our LinkedIn connections. Consistency is the first step to a winning effort.
No matter how you spend your Super Bowl Sunday, social media will play a key role in event coverage. Make a conscious effort to observe how other athletes and professionals use these online tools to generate coverage and awareness, and decide what strategies and tactics you can employ to get the most out of your social media.
How do you plan on using social media on Super Bowl Sunday?
Caroline Nobles is an assistant account executive who can be reached at @carolinenobles during the game.