Year Of The Celebrity Ad?: Super Bowl LI LIVE – Half Time Report

Emotional advertising isn’t all about emotion – while Feeling is the thing advertising does best to build brands, advertising is also a great opportunity to build Fluency. What is Fluency? It’s making your brand easier to recognise, easier to process mentally, and easier to choose quickly. You build Fluency by creating and using what Professor Byron Sharp calls “distinctive assets” – anything that brings your brand quickly to mind. Logos, slogans, songs, shapes, even colors can be distinctive assets.

The Super Bowl is always a carnival of distinctive assets – but there are no hard and fast guidelines on which are successful. Take celebrities, for instance. With ZappiStore Pro as well as testing ads in real time we can tag them to find out which themes are coming through. And this year a lot of ads have used celebrities. Celebs can be great drivers of emotion and also Fluency – that is, if you can consistently use a celebrity as a brand asset so that when people see them in a commercial they instantly think of you.

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Using a celebrity can take your ad to heights of Feeling and Fluency. It can also backfire. This year’s Super Bowl has seen examples of both. Intel landed Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady for an ad showing off some snazzy new visual effects tech. With the Pats down 21-3 right now, Brady has bigger things to worry about than how well his ad tested – but sadly it was a 1-Star clunker. Just getting a celebrity doesn’t necessarily make your ad great.

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On the other hand, Buick’s ad showing a school football game where wishes come true made great use of its celebrities, using supermodel Miranda Kerr not just for her own sake, but to provide the ad with its witty punchline. It got our highest rating – a 5-Star touchdown triumph!

Whether Buick can turn Kerr (or football player Cam Newton) into distinctive assets for those brands depends on whether and how well the brand uses them in future ads and outside the Super Bowl. But a 5-Star ad is a great potential start. Other celebrity ads which nailed 5-Star status were Honda’s clever “Yearbooks” (an inspirational ad with a great central device) and Tide’s brilliant fourth wall breaking ad with commentator Terry Bradshaw racing to get a stain out of his shirt.

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Of course if you can’t hire a distinctive asset, you can always make one. Yellow Tail Wines of Australia got a 4-Star ad which made heavy use of a comical kangaroo mascot. For a small brand, that’s a great result – an instantly memorable asset which won’t demand heavy repeat appearance fees!