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Sophisticated & Social: Predictions for Super Bowl 2014

It’s that time of year again. Advertisers are lining up to drop $4 million for a 30-second ad on this year’s Super Bowl. Since this has become the most important creative shootout in advertising, all marketers should be watching for trends. So here are four advertising predictions for Super Bowl 2014.

1. Welcome to the Social Bowl

2014 will be the “Social Bowl” for advertisers. Last year, Oreo didn’t buy any Super Bowl ads, but they stole the show from the sidelines when the power went out with a clever meme reminding us, You can still dunk in the dark.” The brand earned a lot of attention without ever buying an ad. This year, big brands will be ready with brigades of social marketers poised to post and tweet about every play. But why? Isn’t the audience glued to the TV? Not this year. In 2014 the Super Bowl will be a two-screen event for many consumers. We will see more people connecting to friends both physically (with parties) and virtually (with Facebook and Twitter). And almost everyone will be checking in on a mobile device here and there throughout the game. 

2. Multiplying the Agony of Defeat

With increased social media activity comes increased risk. Consumers have always judged ads more cruelly on Super Bowl night. The audience is conditioned to expect great work and they judge a mediocre ad as harshly as an on-field fumble. Since this will be a more social Bowl, look for biting commentary about the weaker ads to spread across social media. For example, GoDaddy.com’s weird “Perfect Match” ad had people tweeting confusion, even scorn, almost instantly. GoDaddy.com has announced a change of direction for their 2014 ads and to that, we say “thanks.” Fortunately, there will also be social media stars and these chosen few ads will benefit from consumer attention that lasts through to conversations over coffee the next morning.

3. The Super Bowl Grows Up

The most gratifying trend for Super Bowl 2014 will be the shift to more grown up advertising content. Expect deeper emotions to win out over slapstick humor this year as Super Bowl advertising is definitely maturing. What used to be a venue for adolescent guy jokes, sexy celebs and talking babies, has started to shift toward ads that tug at your heart. Last year’s big winners included touching Budweiser Clydesdale ad, Brotherhood,” that was more about friendship than beer, a Jeep ad featuring a stirring patriotic monologue by Oprah Winfrey, a Coca Cola ad sharing security camera photos that capture random acts of kindness, and a Dodge Ram ad that brought Paul Harvey’s voice back to life to give us all a lump in our throats. Even the humor is starting to be more grown up. Last year’s best humor spot featured Bob Odenkirk, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd brainstorming pitches for Samsung with a clever script that manages to lampoon many other ad approaches.

Overall, this will be a year when our favorite ads are measured in “likes” and the best ads will treat us as adults.

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About Kelly O'Keefe:

Kelly has been a branding innovator for more than 25 years. He is a founding board member and professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, the number one graduate advertising program in the country, according to Creativity magazine. He has been named Ad Person of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year, and has been a strategic brand advisor to clients like GE, ESPN, Walmart, UPS Freight, Sesame Street and The Home Depot, as well as three governors and several divisions of the U.S. government. Kelly's commentary has been featured in dozens of media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Time, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

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