Monday Morning Quarterbacking the Brand Bowl

By February 6, 2014Branding

It’s been almost a week since the big game which means that most everyone has stopped talking about the Super Bowl ads and have moved along to the Olympics. But for this former ad girl, that’s just when I go back to look at what was said and how people felt about the commercials, their messages and the sticky factor. If people are still talking about an ad after a week, that’s a great sign, right?

A review of the 2014 Brand Bowl commercials includes a few great examples of strong branding, some disappointments and a few companies that forgot who holds the purchasing power in our great country. Let’s take a look.

2014 Brand Bowl

Coca Cola has been a brand that has celebrated culture, youth, the future and diversity for a long time so it’s surprising to me that people were disappointed or offended by Coke’s Super Bowl ad. That is their brand. And, quite honestly, that is reflective of brand “United States of America”. We are a melting pot of cultures and languages.  Did they achieve their goal? I’m betting on yes: people are still talking about the ad.

Audi scored points for communicating their brand belief (perhaps a core value?) to never compromise in their clever and memorable Doberhuahua’s ad. It was unexpected from the brand but fun to watch.

A top favorite of many was Radio Shack’s The 80’s Wants It’s Store Back ad. Clearly they’re going through a time of re-invention and trying to change perceptions within their target audience: an older buyer who recognizes Hulk Hogan, Alf, Rainbow Brite and Chucky. This was the spot that everyone talked about around the water cooler and on Monday.

Women Watch the Super Bowl Too – Especially For The Ads

This was the year, unlike many before, where brands were called out on Twitter and Facebook for their sexist ads and messages. People pointed out that Ford, Chevy, Kia and Hundai must not think women can drive, that Turbo Tax implied you can buy a woman with your tax returns and H&M’s ad with David Beckham was pure eye candy (and not much else). I’m confident these big brands realize that women watch the Super Bowl and include them in their focus group testing so I’m not sure how there were so many let downs this year.

Volkswagon, who received kudos for their stand-out Darth Vader ad two years ago didn’t do the same this year. Their ad implied that only men are engineers. Not a good move, VW -we  expect more from your brand.

GoDaddy’s ad with body builders racing to their spray tan? Glad we missed the GoDaddy girls of years’ past, but this lacked in so many areas. I will admit, that this is pretty consistent with their brand image – I’m just not sure what these Super Bowl ads do for them.

On the flip side…


Verizon FIOS did a fabulous job sending the message to young girls that you can do anything you want. I was happy to see that the little girl didn’t become a football player since we all know that girls, today, don’t play in the NFL. Nice story line.

GoldieBlox won the lottery, or pretty close to it, when they won a free spot in the Super Bowl from Intuit and they used it wisely. Many parents, especially moms, are working hard to get our daughters engaged in STEM topics at an early age and their product line does that. The line in there “Let’s build like the boys” says it all. Bonus points to GoldiBlox.

Just for Fun


With the under twelve group at our party, they loved the Doritos Cowboy Kid commercial. What kid doesn’t think about riding a dog like a bull like that? Totally spot-on with their brand, too.

Most fun for everyone? No surprise, the Beats Music ad with Ellen shows off the personality of this pretty hot brand in a relevant way for their audience.

Shocking and Strange

Butterfinger’s Threesome ad takes this award. Highly talked about though, so they’ve got that, right?

Making Your Own Moment

In anticipation of someone taking advantage of an opportunistic moment, I tweeted this:



Unfortunately, no one expected the Super Bowl to be a blowout. The closest standout moment to last year’s Oreo play was the response that JCPenney received during their mysterious Tweeting with Mittens campaign. While some assumed their account was hacked or a drunk intern was at the helm, JCPenney made their own blackout moment rather than waiting for something to happen like all the other brand-agency command center teams.  The result was a fun campaign with four tweets that led to $40 million in media.






What was your favorite 2014 Brand Bowl commercial?