At Collider, we live by the R.E.D. Framework. If you want to learn more about it, we explain it here.
If you were one of the 96 million people watching the Super Bowl, you saw plenty of commercials that highlighted all three levers of R.E.D. on full display. Some brands clearly had Relevance as their north star, some brands focused on communicating the Ease of their product, and some brands went all in on Distinctiveness. To each their own! The beauty of R.E.D. is there’s no silver bullet, one-size-fits-all solution to marketing. For a brand to be running on all cylinders, it must do all three at once, but only the best brands do that consistently. That being said, here’s our POV on the hits and the misses.
First, let’s highlight the Super Bowl commercials that really dialed up the Relevance. There are three types of relevance: Functional Relevance, Cultural Relevance, and Social Relevance.
Functional Relevance: Addressing the actual individual functional needs consumers are trying to undertake (aka Primary Use Cases). This is when brands look at the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
When do you reach for that jar of mayo? Only when you’re slathering it on some bread for a sandwich? This Hellman’s mayonnaise ad was primarily pushing the functional relevance of the product, communicating a new use case for the product with the finishing line “Make Taste, Not Waste.” Using Hellman’s to make leftover food more tasty is a clear, functionally relevant message. As for the other types of relevance and distinctiveness, the creative starring Amy Schumer may have missed the mark. We love a good sticky pun, but ‘Fairy God Mayo’ felt like a stretch, and is not particularly ownable for Hellman’s compared to other mayonnaise brands.
Cultural Relevance: The real, deeper, more emotional reason people are engaging with the category. This is deeply linked to what is happening in culture, not just individual/emotional personal relevance. The main effect is that if the brand is culturally relevant, more people want to use it to build their own identity, or belong to that particular group.
When and why do people reach for beer? Ultimately, to be happy. Simple, obvious, but true. The brand nailed its products cultural code. The only question is- was it distinctive enough to Michelob Ultra, or could it have been any beer brand?
Social Relevance: A buzzy brand that gets talked about constantly outside of the immediate context of the category. This usually means they’re doing things that are buzzy in culture. This is an important aspect of marketing because, quite simply, the more people are talking about a brand, the more people use it.
As we know, Reddit has been a shining headline for the past couple of weeks because of the r/wallstreetbets and GameStop situation. And while that alone showed how socially relevant Reddit was, they took it one step further with this 5 second ad- continuing the conversation and grabbing more attention.
Ease is broken out as Easy to Access and Easy to Notice.
Easy to Access: Make it easy for consumers to get the product and make sure that the product buying experience is as free of friction as possible.
Klarna decided to use its first ever Super Bowl spot to go all in on Ease, specifically easy to afford, with the option to divide payment between four payments. Demonstrated with hilarious creativity, four Maya Rudolphs rides in on four horses and make four payments one by one. Easy beats better.
Easy to Notice: Speaking to ALL category users (even light ones) with a loud, always on, consistent communications.
We could give the ‘Easy to Notice’ award out to every single Super Bowl commercial, since it’s arguably the best media platform of the year to speak to ALL category users. That being said, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade was particularly easy to notice, speaking to the masses who lived through this lemon of a year, taking an age-old phrase so undeniably fitting for this time and making lemonade from the lemons of 2020. Noticeable, broadly reaching, broadly appealing.
We break down Distinctiveness into three parts- Unique, Ownable, and Consistent. What’s the brand’s Distinctive Brand Assets? Think- colors, sounds, campaign ideas, characters, ad styles, etc. Naturally, you should do all three together (meaning, every ad should be Unique, Ownable and Consistent), but for fun, we’re breaking it up into three parts here.
🎶 wOw wOw nO CoW 🎶
Whether you loved it or hated it, Oatly’s commercial was Distinctively Unique. The Oatly founder is sitting in an oat field, singing a song about how Oatly doesn’t use cows because they’re a plant-based milk alternative. The jingle was silly, but it got the point across. A great example of ‘less is more.’ Doesn’t take a big production budget to stand out in the crowd.
Paramount+ knocked ownability out of the park. What could be more ownable than creating a brand world around your main Distinctive asset (the mountain logo), featuring your Distinctive assets (characters and shows)? Paramount took the cake for the most Ownable ad for us. You won’t see Netflix or Hulu copying this format any time soon — we’d like to see them try.
Consistency is key when it comes to building memory structures for a brand. State Farm’s ad was a great example of how simple it can be to create a Distinctive message that builds on to existing memory structures. Jake from State Farm? No. Drake from State Farm. A celebrity cameo that makes sense and an ad that’s easily attributed to State Farm. Don’t overthink it!
Listen, there’s no ‘right’ way to do a Super Bowl ad. But one thing’s for sure — you better show your brand is Relevant and/or Easy and/or Distinctive.
(Keep in mind that all the views expressed in this post and on this site are personal views. They don’t represent the views of YUM! or any other person or organization except the authors themselves.)