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Super Bowl LVI Ads Analysis: A Multicultural Perspective (Multicultural Marketing News)

Tuesday, Feb 15, 2022
Multicultural Marketing News February 2022

Super Bowl LVI Ads Analysis: A Multicultural Perspective

Super Bowl Ads Multicultural Commentary

Super Bowl ads have, once again, provoked commentary from advertising experts in marketing to Hispanic, Asian American, African American, LGBTQ consumers and other Multicultural markets. MMR asked top experts, from among those featured in our Source Book of Multicultural Experts Online, to provide their analysis of the Super Bowl ads from a multicultural perspective. Enjoy our 9th annual edition of this newsletter published since 2013. View past issues.

  • Celebrating Google’s Real Tone Ad. (Ethnic Technologies)
  • Making Strides, More To Go (Horowitz Research)
  • Simplicity Speaks Volumes in Morgan Freeman’s Voice (Sensis)
  • Google Returns to Super Bowl Advertising With Insightful Introduction of The New Pixel 6 (B Code Media)
  • Super Bowl LVI: The Tease Progresses on the Multicultural Ad Front (INFUSION)
Celebrating Google’s Real Tone Ad.
It has to be tough to be culturally relevant when creating advertising content. Companies want to showcase their product, above all else. So, they end up sprinkling in some ethnic faces and hope it resonates. Although there were lots of really funny and touching ads, Most of this year’s Super Bowl advertisers did not flip the switch on the same old formula. Except one: Google. Google’s ad for Real Tone was so uplifting. Starting out by showing old photos and hearing the actual voices of the people whose pictures didn’t represent “them”. Fast forward, all the while listening to the beautiful and inspirational voice of Lizzo, to see what real people look like with Real Tone. Google’s product was created to show the nuances of diverse skin tones for so many ethnicities. It appears to me that they not only created a beautiful product, but also a commercial to be celebrated, enjoyed and watched over and over again. Finally, I see a product and the advertisement for it that displays the meaning and intent behind multicultural marketing. Bravo Google for showing lots of advertisers how it’s supposed to be done! By Karen Sinisi, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ethnic Technologies, karens@ethnictechnologies.com.
View company profile here.
Making Strides, More To Go
We were encouraged by the Super Bowl ads featuring a range of diverse actors and celebrities including Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, Doja Cat, Mary J. Blige and others. We loved the Google’s Pixel 6 camera ad highlighting Real Tone, which captures true skin tones for people of all shades—most notably, those with darker skin. Their ad was a great example of inclusivity, showcasing everyday people of all skin tones, body types, and lifestyles, and featuring Lizzo and her new song. We also loved Toyota’s ad documenting Paralympian Brian McKeever’s perseverance and Tonal’s ad with Serena Williams reminding us to ‘own your strength and see how far it takes you.’ On the other hand, the Declaration of Independence made its way into ads for FTX and ClickUp. While entertaining, we couldn’t help but feel these ads smacked of cultural insensitivity, as Black slaves were excluded from that historical document. We also noted less Latinx and Asian than Black representation. By Adriana Waterston, Chief Revenue Officer and Insights and Strategy Lead, Horowitz Research, 914-834-5999, adrianaw@horowitzresearch.com.
View company profile here.
Simplicity Speaks Volumes in Morgan Freeman’s Voice
Featured celebrities and big budget CGI in Super Bowl ads is usually a recipe for a hot, loud, and expensive mess, but Turkish Airlines crafts an elegant piece of unapologetic branding out of those exact elements in their “Pangea” spot, featuring Morgan Freeman. The fact that it’s also globally inclusive (quite literally) just ices the cake with all the right cultural feels. Epic visuals of continental land masses shifting back in place initially play as an intriguing morsel of Planet Earth trivia under Freeman’s whisky-smooth narration. But they turn out to deliver a disciplined bit of single-minded brand messaging: TA connects more countries than any other airline. The copywriting is succinct, but the unifying metaphor is rich. Though I’m more partial to the 60-second online version (slightly more room for the storytelling to breathe), it ranks right up there with Ridley Scott’s Apple 1984 Macintosh launch in its captivating simplicity. My heartiest compliments to the Whale team in Amsterdam for bringing this to fruition. Let the awards land on them! By Javier San Miguel, Group Creative Director, Sensis.
View company profile here.
Google Returns to Super Bowl Advertising With Insightful Introduction of The New Pixel 6
Representation certainly ruled the day when it comes to the 2022 Super Bowl advertisements. This year’s crop of commercials featured a wide array of celebrities of color promoting all manner of products and services. From Halle Berry and Kevin Hart to Zendaya and Andre 3000 to Morgan Freeman, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Serena Williams and Craig Robinson… I thought I might lose track of the sheer variety of Black stars we saw. While research studies have shown that capitalizing on minority celebrities isn’t necessarily the most effective method to convey your brand’s commitment to diversity, it was encouraging to see the variety of products and services being endorsed by people of color. The representation box has been checked. Now where do we go from here? As multicultural marketing continues to evolve and improve, we have to look past representation and come to expect to see brands breaking away from stereotypes and building their message on compelling cultural insights. Google hit the mark for me. After taking 2021 off from Super Bowl advertising, Google returned this year with a 60 second Pixel 6 ad, directed by Joshua Kissi, that was my personal favorite. The ad owes its impact to beautifully building on a well-known but rarely discussed issue with how camera technology treats various skin tones. In addition to grasping the attention of every person of color watching, the ad managed to tap into a universally held desire to have one’s image reflected the best it can be which is likely to win a few new customers. While Pixel resonated most with me, I want to also acknowledge Greenlight’s ‘I’ll Take It’ ad which nicely featured a financially responsible Black family in contrast to Ty Burrell’s spending machine which is a scenario seen all too rarely in the media. By Damian Benders, GM, B Code Media, damian@bcodemedia.com.
View company profile here.
Super Bowl LVI: The Tease Progresses on the Multicultural Ad Front
The road to Superbowl LVI was quite the tease, the adrenaline-packed game delivered. The Rams and Bengals with equal season points, high-powered offenses, and NFLs best quarterbacks vs. man and zone coverage was a very good tease. Like the playoff games, the Superbowl came down to the wire and ironically turned into a defensive battle packed with emotion. Aaron Donald and Von Miller shut down the Bengals drive, while Stafford and Kupp’s tenacious last dance got the win at the very end. That’s as good as a tease gets. Anticipation and expectations for the Superbowl ads were an equal tease with records in spend, $6.5M ad cost, projected viewership, pre-game brand teaser ads and social buzz, coupled with demand for authenticity, and the DEI and Census spotlight on Multiculturals. Superbowl is the ultimate tease for brands, the opportunity to reach 100M Americans, and challenge to get it right to a diverse audience, 45M Multiculturals and 55M Whites. Multiculturals’ impact has forever changed America to a diverse, heterogeneous consumer base with varied needs, demands, tastes, and cultural lens in play. 80% of Blacks and 69% of Hispanics are NFL fans, now higher than Whites (66%). It is increasingly important for brands to resonate across diverse segments as it impacts brand perceptions, affinity, and sales, and showcase meaningful representation on a global scale. With that lens as a multicultural marketer, my Superbowl ads critique will undoubtedly be different from the mainstream trades. (And that is no tease.) 2021 reference: Despite diversity still lacking, brands were keenly conscious of Multicultural appeal and consideration in the heat of Covid and social justice. Last year’s overriding brand themes of unity, family, community, inspiration, moments of joy, hope and connection made the ads deeper, more inclusive, and resonant – as they underscored those values that Multiculturals always prioritize, and also touched consumers universally. 2022 verdict: A real tease with strong Black inclusion yet lacking in depth and breadth. If diversity ads are evaluated by BIPOC blended casting, POC pairings, or celebrities that happen to be African American, then 40% of the ads did that. If effectiveness is finding a truth or situation transcending ethnicity, then 10% succeeded. If diversity means meaningful ads that reflect our multi-cultural complexity and grounded in human insight, then it was 1%.  Perhaps that’s due to the lack of minority or women ad agencies and directors in the big game, which might lead to broader inclusion and more authentic perspectives for the people. Brands teased us with a celebratory spirit and digital acuity spot-on for Superbowl and near-end Covid, cross both the mainstay and tech, e-commerce, and crypto newcomers. The usual suspects included automotive, retail, QSR, telecom, CPG, and beverages. Brands like Bud Light, Coke and Little Caesars came back, as did a flock of newcomers like Vroom, FTX, Crypto.com, eToro, UberEats, Squarespace, DraftKings, Carvana, Wallbox, Vrbo, Rakuten, Greenlight, Meta, and Caesars Sportsbook. This befits our digital lives, experiential technologies, and our people, purpose, sharing and contactless economy with conscious convenience. And these newcomers appeal to Multiculturals, who lead all digital trends, the wave of digital creators, shopstreaming, and the use of crypto, NFTs and the Metaverse. Brands took star power to the next level with celebrity pairs, 3D action, humor and IRL. They leveraged wit, banter, off-the-wall situations, weddings, singing, dancing, and AR/VR for people to escape home isolation, get out in nature or travel, and push beyond boundaries. The innovation winners go to Avocados from Mexico’s 3D ‘House of Goodness’ with QR code e-commerce links, and FTX’s FOMO-fueled bitcoin giveaway. Greenlight’s app empowered parents to raise financially-smart kids, Wallbox and Alexa reassured us there’s nothing to be afraid of – smart in uncertain times. Some brands opted to just participate on the digital front, like State Farm’s TikTok challenge, Miller Lite’s metaverse bar, and Snoop Dogg’s gin line IG Superbowl ticket sweepstakes. And we forgive Pepsi’s cheesy, overtly promotional ‘Road to the Superbowl’ with the Manning’s and football greats because, hey it’s the NFL and Pepsi. Anthemic empowering ads and bigger family, unity, and community messages were less than desired, but the brands who did it were great. While most automotive focused on tech and sustainability (BMW, Nissan, GM, Kia), Toyota inspired us with ‘belief in mobility for all’, highlighting two brothers challenging journey to victory. Vrbo’s ‘A Place for Together’ stressed family time, Cox connected us with hugs, and Bud Light Next with zero carbs touted zero in the way of possibility.  Google’s Pixel 6’s ‘Real tone tech’ had diversity at its core with Lizzo’s vocals advocating ‘Everyone deserves to be seen as they truly are’. Bud was my personal favorite with the injured Clydesdale’s dog pal and savior underscoring ‘In the home of the brave, down never means out’.  I felt it personified people’s journeys in our country the past few years evoking themes of strength, resilience, and optimism. And I love dogs. Black representation was strong, so no longer a tease, but not yet fully authentic. These ads included Jerod Mayo and Hellman’s mayo tackling food waste, Idris Elba (Booking.com), Ice T (Cheerios), Lizzo (Google), Megan Thee Stallion (Frito Lay’s Flaming Hot), Rashida Jones with people named Jones (Toyota), Kevin Hart (Sam’s Club’s), and Dennis Rodman (Planet Fitness). The winner ads: Uber Eats ads including Trevor Noah hilariously punctuated all that you can now order for delivery – ‘even if you can’t eat it’, Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart’s brilliant pairing for Bic, and Hologic’s ad with Mary Blige showed the importance of self-care, a powerful insight particularly for women, of any race or color. The worst tease was the under-representation of Hispanics and Asians, especially with Superbowl in LA where the majority is Multicultural and over 50% Hispanic. Hispanics featured included Zendaya who ‘shills Squarespace by the seashore’, the family in Cox ‘hugs’, Salma Hayek as Hara to Arnold’s Zeus for BMW, Danny Trejo in Planet Fitness, and the star couple in “Pringles Stuck In” ad which had inherent diversity as a mainstream and Hispanic agency collaboration. Asian representation was feeble, Ken Jeong paired with Joel McHale inspired me for insightful banter in #Plantersallorone, while Dave Bautista helped turn Nissan into a comedic action movie trailer that was a yawn. Vroom’s ‘Flake the Musical’, albeit average, brought its reliability benefit to life with a diverse cast dancing in the streets shot in LA. Michelob Ultra’s star line-up included Serena Williams, Jimmy Butler and Nneka Ogwumike. It also featured World Cup champion, Alex Morgan but really, any Hispanic soccer champion was the obvious more inclusive choice. Pepsi’s LA hip-hop legends half-time show was action-packed and commendably showed diversity even in ability with two deaf rappers. However, it would have become brilliant if they added a Snoop Dogg and Mexican BandaMS collaboration, Bad Bunny and/or other top Latin hip-hop artists. While some hit the mark, others failed to resonate across cultures, with many over-ridden by celebrities, tech effects, and that mainstream cheekiness and guffaw. Ads with universal appeal: Crypto.com ‘Fortune favors the brave’ with Matt Damon, T-Mobile’s ‘Do it for the phones’ with Dolly and Miley, Scarlett and Colin (Alexa), AT&T Fiber’s ‘GIGzillionaires’ with Mila and Demi, Zac Efron’s AR adventure, and Bud Light Seltzer’s Land of Loud Flavors (if you like Guy Fieri). Besides the aforementioned ads, many ads lacked nuanced insights for diverse appeal in situations, humor, references, or context.  And many celebrities, pairings and casts just did not translate in relevance to Multiculturals.  It’s all in the way the ads come to life that determines its authenticity and relatability. And many celebrity ads blurred together without strong inherent brand linkage, and If I wasn’t writing this article, I’d be remiss to remember. Our cultural lens affects values, preferences, the ways we process ideas, information, situations, humor, influencers, and respond to brands. Each segment’s access to unique cultural media, people, experiences, codes, and references sets them apart. This impacts their identity, family tenets, needs, purchase triggers, and inflection points. Knowledge-based strategies weigh all the diverse consumers’ factors and identify the differences that matter to drive that segment’s affinity, sales, and loyalty – as well as find universal insights and context that resonate and impact across segments for the Superbowl stage. Or even showcase ethnic stories that underscore how diversity brings us all to richest definition of who Americans are. I look forward to when brands go beyond box-checking to bar-setting where Multiculturals are properly understood, represented, portrayed, and marketed to in a manner that delivers an authentic, meaningful connection. The day when the perennial Multicultural tease actually becomes the real thing. And the game is the only tease. By Liz Castells-Heard, CEO & Chief Strategy Officer, INFUSION, 213-688-7217, 213-305-4129, liz@adcastells.com.
View full company profile here.
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