At cj Advertising, our ‘Big Game Review’ is usually an internal, round-table event. This year, however, we branched out by sending emissaries (me and Jenny Madison) to a formal panel discussion (it cost money and everything!) to sample the fruits of advertising’s biggest night.
With Nashville’s top agencies and marketing firms in attendance, the discussion covered the Super Bowl commercials that have garnered the most press…except one. If you’re in the business of legal advertising, this was an omission that deserves a closer look.
For the non-PI “civilians,” the spots that generated the most buzz were these three:
“Daughter” by Audi
- “Great story and sentiment, but the copy was heavy-handed and there was no connection between the brand and the message. Anyone could’ve run this spot and slapped their logo on the end. Still, this ad got people talking and that’s always a win during the Super Bowl.”
“Bai, Bai, Bai” from Bai Brands
- “Funny, simple, timeless, and a great tie-in with the health drink brand. Fun fact: Justin Timberlake is a fan and investor in Bai Brands.”
“The Journey Begins” by 84 Lumber
- “Developed an emotional story around a timely political controversy. We loved the cliff-hanger narrative device that drove millions of new visitors to the company’s website. A stunning advertisement from a company with no history of political engagement.”
These are truly great spots, but the commercial we wanted to talk about was “Stuck” by Ford Motor Company. Here’s why.
We judge ads by the same criteria as any other agency: story, emotion, brand connection, and reptilian appeal. But that last component is something that general ad agencies can afford to take for granted, but we at cj never do. This 90-second gem from Ford definitely set off our reptile-o-meters! Airing during the coveted, pre-kick commercial pod, Ford brilliantly executed a simple, yet powerful, concept: present a montage of different characters getting stuck in their daily lives and show how Ford sets them free.
The dramatic situations include a man stuck on a roof after a ladder falls, a kitten with its head jammed in a paper bag, and a car spun out in a snow bank. Ford then spotlights its vehicles and services as a means to help people get free.
These conflicts and resolutions tap into a psychology that all personal injury lawyers will recognize as reptilian: immobility = injury; mobility = health. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “That seems like lofty over-analysis. Isn’t Ford just trying to sell cars? And isn’t this ad just a clever way to do it?”
No, it isn’t because no, they’re not.
While the ad shows vehicles that are available for purchase, the spot is far from a sales pitch. In fact, it’s more than just a branding play. Ford is positioning itself as a leader in mobility solutions for the future.
Ford released the Super Bowl spot the same day it opened an “interactive brand experience studio” called FordHub in New York City. According to Ford’s own statement, this marketing effort is designed to show how “Ford’s expansion to an auto and a mobility company is helping change the way the world moves.”
This ad isn’t merely about how we drive. It’s about how we live. That’s why Ford was so shrewd in its use of advertising’s most primal psychological weapon. Well-done, Ford. While most commercial reviewers have graded you with a “B,” we at cj give you a reptilian “A+.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, we’d love to hear your thoughts on “Stuck” or your other favs from the Super Bowl.