In the spectrum of ad formats that map to the consumer purchase funnel, Superbowl ads are the ultimate embodiment of upper-funnel brand awareness. That makes them less about lower-funnel, action-oriented engagement and thus less “local.” But it doesn’t make them irrelevant to Street Fight’s focus on local tech.
In fact, several Superbowl ads touched on key themes in local such as multi-location brand advertisers (Burger King) and locally relevant technology like voice search (Amazon Alexa). And of course, there were lots of car commercials—an inherently local product category given the offline shopping component.
So what were the hits and misses? You’ve likely already seen lots of lists, but we’re zeroing in on the subsegment of ads that have a local tie in. We’ve listed our top pics below, along with narrative drill downs into the local and strategic implications. And we’ve added some staff pics, just for fun.
Hyundai: Easing the Pain of Car Shopping
Autos is one of those local product categories that is predominantly bought offline/locally. But that process is increasingly aided by online tools. Hundai plays on this theme with its shopper assurance program — easing the painful process of car shopping which is positioned right up there with root canals and jury duty. Jason Batemen taps into his inner Michael Bluth for a signature deadpan delivery that ties the ad together.
Burger King: Multi-location Form & Function
Going to the archives, Burger King repurposes film footage of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger. But the campaign wasn’t just about a big game airing. Burger King partnered with Door Dash to do local deliveries for a “mystery box” that had Warhol-themed items that play on the ad spot. A nice online-to-offline tie in for a viral component, and one of the top “water cooler” ads of the next day.
Walmart: Online to Offline
Walmart is one of the standouts among retailers that are innovating to stave off “retailpocalypse.” As we’ve examined, that’s all about embracing technology like AR, cashierless stores and easier pick-up options. This ad underscores the latter, which is a textbook fusing of online tools/engagement and physical world activity. We expect to see lots more innovations along these lines in retail this year.
Amazon: Alexa Everywhere
Alexa is popping up everywhere as we saw at CES this year, even in comically bizarre places like toasters and toilets. Amazon gets points for self-awareness and self-deprecation in its ad that plays on these strange integrations. And the prize goes to the AI-fueled dog collar that lets Harrison Ford’s dog order a crate of dog food. Local on-demand delivery at its best.
Pringles: Voice Search Meets Existentialism
Pringles takes a clever jab at AI by starring a self-aware voice assistant which questions its own existence. But the hidden message is what most voice assistant devices are actually used for. As we’ve examined recently, the commerce-related aspirations for voice assistants have largely given way to other types of (non-commercial) queries like weather alerts and “play Funky Town.”
Google: A Billion Words
Google Translate is a dark horse for potential killer apps. It’s in a category of interactions that is itself a bit of a wild card: what we’re calling “audio AR.” Instead of graphical overlays, subtle whispers in your ear (via Airpod or similar) can guide you through your day and find things locally. An in-ear real-time translation system could really make audio AR come to life, in addition to lots of local search use cases.
Wix: We’re All Webmasters Now
Wix is in an important category of tools that have lowered barriers to high-end functionality. This has been key for local businesses to extend capabilities with things like online presence, e-commerce and SEO. Along with Squarespace, Square, Intuit and several other companies/products in the “SMBOS” category, Wix plays up its ability to empower non-tech individuals and businesses. Karlie Kloss shows us how.
Just for fun, we’re also including our favorite ads, whether they are local-oriented or not. Here they are in no particular order
Anne Marie Stephen, President, Street Fight: Amazon
Harrison Ford, AI for Dogs, Local on-demand delivery… what’s not to love.
Joe Zappa, Managing Editor, Street Fight: Pepsi
Who doesn’t love a good Steve Carrell Vehicle. Plus… Li’l John
Damian Rollison, VP Product, Brandify, Street Fight Contributing Editor: Washington Post
“It was a powerful statement delivered effectively and it was a great idea to target the biggest TV viewing audience of the year to reinforce the importance of a free press.”
Mike Boland, Lead Analyst, Street Fight: Stella Artois.
The dude abides. Anything with Jeff Lebowski gets my vote. A clever play on iconic characters and their signature drinks (Carrie Bradshaw’s Cosmo, etc.)… ordering a Stella instead. Now that’s brand loyalty.
Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the bi-weekly Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech. More biographical information can be seen here.