FORBES: Which Ad Will Win The Super Clio?
First Published On: Forbes
It’s that time of year again. We gather with friends and family, we make seven-layer dip, don our team jerseys, fill the chip bowls and crack open the beer coolers. We cheer, we debate and we cringe. All while we intently watch Super Bowl advertising. Sure, there’s also a game in between the ads, but it's really all about watching the World Series of advertising—seeing who shows up, who made us laugh and cry and who really stepped in it.
This year a diverse group of advertising luminaries will gather for the 5th Annual Creative Bowl, where they will award the Super Clio, a prize that recognizes that best of all those that anted up their $5+ million for a 30 second spot. Last year’s winner was the “It’s a Tide Ad” campaign. Previous winners include “Bad Romance” from National Geographic, Jeep’s “Portraits” and Snickers’ “‘Brady Bunch”.
Just as marketing has evolved, so has the Super Bowl ad, even amidst the rumors of the death of TV advertising. No longer simply limited to a 30-second piece of film, Super Bowl investments now regularly include teasers, brand purpose, social activations and more. To learn more about the state of the art and the purpose of the Super Clio, I spoke to the Chair of the Creative Bowl, Rob Reilly, Global Creative Chairman of McCann Worldgroup.
Peter Horst: Why a Super Clio—what was the rationale behind creating a special award?
Rob Reilly: As we looked at the various awards and rankings out there, it felt like what was missing was a Super Bowl award as judged by advertising professionals. What prompted that thought was 2011, when Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” ranked something like #42 on the USA Today Ad Meter—I mean, how does that happen? How is that #42? So, it got me thinking—the Clios are really the undisputed ad awards in America, so if anyone has the right to do an award specifically around the Super Bowl to recognize truly outstanding work, it’s the Clios. Plus, it’s great that the trophy itself is the exact same height as the Lombardi trophy.
Horst: What are you hoping to accomplish with the Super Clio?
Reilly: What was happening over time is that agencies, instead of trying to do the right thing, were trying to “win” the Super Bowl. “Let’s put babies in it,” “let’s get some guy kicked in the groin,” rather than asking if that was right for the brand, for the strategy. We’re hoping the Super Clio can help refocus the agencies away from trying to “win” with the various tricks of the trade and focus instead on doing the right thing for the brand.
Horst: In the age of the algorithm and martech and data-driven targeting, how does the Super Bowl ad still fit into the marketing ecosystem?
Reilly: Even with all the talk of television dying, it’s still the easiest way to reach a mass audience, especially with live sports where people are not using DVRs and skipping ads. You just can’t replace live sports, and the Super Bowl is the ultimate in live sports. So I think it’s become an even more important place to be—if you have the right message. It’s a moment to make a statement.
Horst: What are the reasons why brands pony up the big bucks to be on the big game?
Reilly: Some stay on the sidelines for most of the year, and then put a lot of money in this moment, the way Avocados from Mexico has, for example. I love that work, by the way. Some brands have deep relationships with the NFL, so it makes sense to be there. Verizon has been unveiling over the past couple of weeks the “Team that Wouldn’t Be Here”, with the 11 players and one coach that wouldn’t be alive today without first responders. That’s a deep program that makes sense because they’ve been so tied to the NFL all year. It’s also a great moment to launch something—a new platform, a new car model, a new point of view on the world. It’s a place where brands unveil new taglines. It’s the Oscars of advertising. We are the stars of the show.
Horst: What’s the DNA of a successful Super Bowl ad?
Reilly: I always say you’ve got to have some emotion—you either have to make people cry, make them laugh until their eyeballs fall out or move them to do something. The stakes are high, but I love that challenge.
Horst: What trends are you seeing in creative direction? We’ve historically seen a lot of humor, and more recently a lot of purpose—what you do expect to see more and less of this year?
Reilly: The thing that’s fallen off the most in recent years is humor. Super Bowl used to be all about slapstick and groin kicks, but it’s being replaced by a lot of purpose and other smarter, more “real” things brands are doing—maybe it’s a sign of the times, but there seems to be a trend of saying things that are more important. The key is to go hard after whatever emotion you’re going for. The brands that don’t quite go all the way in the humor realm or the purpose/meaningful realm will fall short. I always respect brands that go for it, even when they end up getting bashed.
Horst: Who are you rooting for this year?
Reilly: I hope everybody does well. What’s good for the industry is when more agencies are doing breakthrough things for clients. Our competition is not each other. Our competition is CEOs and CFOs and boards of companies believing in the power of advertising and the value of having advertising and marketing agencies bring these ideas to life. I don’t celebrate when someone does poorly. If there are 45 ads, I hope they all do great.