Lions Entertainment: Bringing Your A-Game and A-List Talent

This year marked the launch of a new Entertainment event at Cannes Lions, introducing a fresh energy and obvious nod to the increasingly blurred lines surrounding branded content creation.

The musical lineup at this year’s festival alone, including artists by the likes of Usher, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and Poo Bear, was a clear indication that brands are well on their way to becoming some of the biggest investors in music properties and talent of the future. Their presence also signified that brands are engaging with music in a more meaningful way than ever before, and truly investing in culture with a fresh perspective.

While music will undoubtedly continue to be a prominent fixture in culture, the traditional model of creation is shifting. Music lovers no longer choose to pay for albums or singles, therefore leading traditional labels and publishing companies to take less risks and in turn pave the way for brands to step in and own music from top to bottom. So, with audience attention spans continuing to wane, marketers must bring their A-game when it comes to the type of music they’re attaching to a brand, and consider artists as their own brands while doing so.

This theme rang true throughout a number of sessions this year. A fireside chat between Justin Beiber’s main musical collaborator, Poo Bear, and Jingle Punks co-founder and president, Jared Gutstadt, addressed these issues by explaining the importance of music for brand building today, as well as how essential it is to make music part of a dynamic marketing strategy right at the upfront.

The notion of music as a conduit for brand affiliation can also be seen in television and film, with a whole new revenue stream opening up to artists who get involved in producing tracks for longer-form content, supported by brands/TV shows that no longer simply front the basic sponsorship they’ve done in the past. There is more of an importance for music to win over the consumer and influence behavior and decision-making preferences than ever before, and that sentiment has echoed throughout the Entertainment track.

Amongst winners of the inaugural Lions Entertainment for Music category this year was none other than Beyoncé for her acclaimed “Formation” music video, taking home the coveted Grand Prix Lion Award. While “Formation” may not seem like your typical brand campaign,  the video symbolizes a complete repositioning of the artist’s personal brand, and its impact on issues around race and the perception of women in culture. This win has set the tone with an impossibly high standard for those shortlisted within the category for years to come.

All in all, it was evident at this year’s festival that the role of music in advertising should by no means be underestimated.

Creativity Matters

Thank you creativity.

It’s the clear theme of the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival. And it’s also what you can’t help but feel when you walk inside the Palais or stroll down the Croisette.

No one deserves that thanks more than Spotify’s Daniel who personifies creativity. His passion for innovation has helped Spotify become one of the world’s largest streaming platforms and he is not stopping there.

Video and data are two of the most prominent trends at Cannes – both of which Ek was quick to point out Spotify has in abundance and will look for innovative ways to good use. Spotify’s deep insights into who is listening to what, when and where has impacted every facet of the music business. Bands like Metallica are analyzing what songs are most listened to in each city on their tour to determine what their playlist will be for that particular show.

Creativity has also found its way into the American presidential race. Creativity on the Stump, a panel that featured PR players and writers from Politico, looked at the campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In a “one-minute” news cycle, Trump’s unorthodox but authentic approach, especially on Twitter, is rewriting political campaigns. Not lost though was Sander’s more traditional TV spot “America.” Borrowing its soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel, the comparably long (.60) spot demonstrates that even in an age of social media, the power of creative television advertising is very much alive and well. That ad notwithstanding, Politico’s editor in chief, John Harris, did proclaim that Donald Trump might be a better marketer than most everyone in Cannes.

While creativity is essential to winning Lions it’s vital to attracting and winning new business. Flanking the Palais are rows of cabanas where the likes of tech startup Luma hand out cans of oxygen to passersby and host clients and prospects for meetings looking out towards the Mediterranean.  Beyond the Palais are rows of yachts where agencies and their partners like SteelHouse and the Daily Mail have taken up residence for the week hosting clients. On land, SteelHouse’s CEO Mark Douglas looks to discuss how technology is making creativity more intelligent. He’ll be speaking alongside Jose Molla, Founder & co-chief creative officer at The Community and Peter Horst, Chief Marketing Officer for The Hershey Company. Global media agency, MEC has taken imaginative marketing to a whole new level with their welcoming presence at the Carlton Hotel. Throughout the week, MEC plays host to a number of sessions including Breaking the Band which looks at how MEC Wavemaker, its content specialist arm, helped uncover an aspiring new brand.

Other themes throughout the week remain centered on technology, the blurred lines between agencies and brands and the merits of the work being shown in the Palais. Cannes celebrates all the rapid fire changes in our industry, but holds paramount the one unchanging element that separates the best work from the ad clutter: creativity. That will never change.

Bon Jour, Cannes!

The Ad world morphs at lightning speed. Traditional lines of branded entertainment, advertising, technology and media companies continue to blur, data scientists now sit alongside artists, data has become a crucial part of the creative process, etc. One of the only constants is The Cannes Lions Festival – the industry’s global celebration of creativity. It remains the center point of the ad world– a moment for all of us to look back and honor the best of our industry while simultaneously looking ahead and preparing for the changes yet to come. If the festival has changed at all, it’s only that it’s gotten bigger.

With this year’s event just days away, our team will be on the ground supporting clients and sharing the week’s most exciting news, bringing you insights from industry players, highlighting trends and observations and sharing live content right from the Croisette. As in years past, this year’s festival has attracted top names to the Palais including, Vannes Bayer (Saturday Night Live), Anthony Bourdain, Anderson Cooper, David Copperfield and many more.

Some of the sessions we’re excited about:

  • Tuesday, June 21, 11:00AM: “How to Change The World Through Advertising”, Cindy Gallop, Lions Lounge
  • Wednesday, June 22, 10:00AM: “Fireside Chat with Daniel Ek, Spotify”, Inspiration Stage
  • Thursday, June 23, 3:30PM: “Is Technology Making Creative More Intelligent” Mark Douglas, SteelHouse, Jose Molla, the community
  • Friday, June 24, 4PM: “Music as Marketing: Flipping the Script on Celebrity Talent” Jared Gustadt, Jingle Punks, Inspiration Stage

We expect a jam-packed week with lots of learnings, applauding the best of the best, networking with clients, prospects and friends, and, hopefully, having a moment in all the fracas to take a sip of rose and toast to everyone’s hard work.

Please check for updates on the DGC Hit Board, Facebook, Twitter and our new Instagram feed!

Keeping Five Steps Ahead At Advertising Week Europe

Whether it is taking place in New York or London, Advertising Week is a chance for the industry to gather and reflect on where it’s been, where it is and where it’s going. From sessions on creativity to data, talent, ad blocking, to current events like the American presidential election and the Brexit, Advertising Europe 2016 had it all.  Tech giants like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat kept the conference abuzz , while everyone from agency leaders to celebrities (and even magicians!) took the stage to address successes, challenges and innovations in the advertising world.

One of the most interesting aspects of advertising is the close alignment it has to current events and breaking news.  It’s incumbent on marketers, to stay directly in tune with the thoughts that shape our ever-changing world. I thought that this year’s #AWEurope did an amazing job of integrating current events with what’s hot in the industry right now.  Here are some of my favorite themes/takeaways of the week. And trust me, it was difficult to choose!

  • Change is here. Embrace it.
    • If there’s one thing that everyone at Advertising Week agreed with, it was that a huge change is upon our industry. The message was clear: you can either disrupt the world, or be disrupted. This goes for brands, agencies, employees as well as creative work.  If you’re not five steps ahead of the curve, you’re falling behind.
  • Personal growth is professional growth.
    • Keeping in the theme of growth and change, Grant Tudor, Founder of Populist, made the insightful point that Personal Growth = Professional Growth. Everything is getting bigger and better. Technology is allowing people to do things that have never been done before, allowing companies large and small to grow at exponential rates, and if these companies want to succeed, they need to allow their people to do the same.
  • Stay hungry, stay humble.
    • This was a quote that newly crowned IBF world heavy weight champion Anthony Joshua used to close his session. As he’s risen to exponential fame, it’s a line that he’s always kept in the back of his mind, and it drives everything he does. Something for both companies and employees to keep in mind as we all go through the highs and lows of working in this industry.
  • Companies with a creative culture are the ones that will thrive.
    • Jim Lusty, Partner at Upping Your Elvis, a creative leadership capability company, gave an inspiring presentation hosted at MEC’s Talent Track. Taking the audience through the various levels at which our brains think and operate, he made it clear that the most difficult place to be truly creative is sitting around a boardroom table.  Encouraging company leaders to fuel their employees with creative outlets and options, Jim offered an array of suggestions on how to truly make the most of your underlying creative talent.
  • LISTENING is an art.
    • Former hostage negotiator Richard Mullender had the entire audience on the edge of their seats when discussing the most effective ways to listen and to truly understand what someone is saying to you. It’s true that the most effective leaders are great listeners, and  I think this can be applied across all levels. I’m looking forward to applying an array of new tactics to all of my meetings.

And listening to the game changers first hand was for me a large part of the excitement of being on the ground at Ad Week Europe.

That’s a wrap! Until next time, #AWEurope



The Best of SXSWi 2016: Top Ten Things We Experienced in Austin

Five days, hundreds of sessions, dozens of unique brand activations and a lot of delicious TexMex and BBQ – this year’s SXSWi has wrapped but we’re still reeling from all the great things we experienced on the ground in Austin.

If you weren’t on the ground (or couldn’t get to everything while you were there), here’s our rundown on the best SXSWi had to offer attendees this year.Full team picture

“Most Inspiring Reason to Create and Innovate”
– President Obama’s Keynote Address: “The reason I’m here is to recruit all of you,” President Obama remarked. He called on SXSW attendees to collaborate on solutions for the country’s biggest problems addressing everything from updating obsolete federal networks to the debate over security versus privacy most recently ignited by the disputes between Apple and the FBI. If you were a lucky SXSW attendee to score a ticket to his address, you probably left Austin wondering how we can move innovation forward to improve our country for the better.

“Best Brand Experience”
– IBM Cognitive Experience: A mix of educational, aspirational, innovation and fun content, IBM created an engaging experience (in partnership with George P. Johnson, a Project WorldWide agenIBM.jpgcy) centered around IBM’s Watson. Upon entering the space, attendees were prompted to input details about th
eir mood and taste preferences, then given a wrist band and sent on their way to experience different stations tied to IBM’s latest innovations and partnerships, including The Weather Company’s latest innovations and Under Armour’s new offering in IoT. SXSW attendees could even play ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ against an IBM robot who got smarter with every move. Or if you wanted to burn a few BBQ calories, you could try some virtual reality cycling. At the end of the experience, attendees were invited to enjoy a “cognitive drink” based on the data in your wristband. Robot bartenders are now a thing – this is the future!

“Best Place to Run into a Trekkie” – The Eyes of Robots and Murders Session: Legendary director/producer/screenwriter J.J. Abrams and his friend Andrew Jarecki, the writer/director of HBO’s The Jinx” spoke about how technology has changed filmmaking for the better and how it has democratized the creative process. Abrams was also quick to point out that technology should be invisible so that the consumer can have an experience that’s as effortless as possible. Ending with a bit of inspiration, Abrams and Jalecki asked that attendees leverage their talents and today’s technology to create: “There’s no excuse to not tell the story we want to tell.”

“Best Off the Track Event” – Brand Innovators Austin Summit: Brand Innovators brought a great mix of speakers and content to SXSW attendees. From Mark Cuban speaking about the future of sports and sharing his candid feelings about the U.S. elections, to leading marketers from Mondelez, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Visa and much more – the venue was packed as any room in the convention center. A particular favorite panel was one featuring Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer moderating a panel with recording artist Kevin Jonas, actor Adrian Grenier, Johnson & Johnson’s Amy Pascal, and social media stars Monica Church and Shonduras. The lively discussion centered on how brands can best leverage celebrities to promote their brands on social media while still maintaining authenticity with millennials and other consumers.

MEC Job Fair


“Best Place to Find a New Gig” – MEC Job Fair: Our client MEC took a new approach to attracting talent at this year’s SXSW. The media agency transported its New York office culture to the event through three virtual reality films which gave prospective talent an immersive glimpse into what it’s like to work there. Using Google Cardboard, the first film focused on the agency’s digital teams, highlighting social media operations and some creative work they’ve made. Another showed off the agency’s culture, and the third film highlighted the agency’s creative moments.


“Coolest Executive” – a tie between Soulcycle Cofounders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. Soulcycle’s cofounders just oozed cool, but they definitely had a lot to offer to SXSW attendees. With Fast Company moderating their fireside chat, they addressed the characteristics that make up their brand DNA and how they were able to innovate in the fitness space – (surprise!) it wasn’t with technology but by creating a community for their consumers. Our friends at Fast Company also interviewed Under Armour’s CEO, where he provided one of festival’s best soundbites: “Data is the new oil. The companies that do well are the companies that use math.”

“Best Celebrity Panel” – New Rules of Social Stardom Session: Kerry Washington and InStyle Magazine hosted a discussion on the ever-evolving role that social media plays in the life of celebrities. Though she’s more of a private person, Washington talked about how she interacts with social herself versus when she taps a communications team, the types of content she likes to share (mainly fashion shots and causes she’s passionate about) and the value that lies in NOT reading the comment section: “It’s a tricky balance. For the most part, I stay away from comments, but Twitter is a conversation, so I do occasionally engage…but I’ve realized that comments are not about me. When someone comments, they are revealing something about themselves.”

“Best App Launch at Southby”Kodak – Kodak Moments: To launch its new visual storytelling app, Kodak Moments, Kodak Alaris (in partnership with Junior, a Project: WorldWide agency) created an activation that immersed attendees in their own memories – practically seeing, smelling and even hearing them – in a chamber it called the “Memory Observatory.” How did it work? Upon entering the chambers, participants saw whatever memory-specific image they chose to share projected on a grand scale within the activation, and the colors, smells and sounds corresponded to the emotion in something the brand called an “experience guide.” Robbie Whiting, co-founder of Junior, spoke with Adweek about why SXSW was the best place to launch the app: “SXSW is chaotic. We wanted to create a respite from the noise, a place for meaningful moments from the process of remembering a moment to the articulation of what makes that moment special to the communal experience of all our deconstructed memories, our own Kodak Moments.”

“Best Place to Go If You’re Craving San Fran Vibes” – Mashable House: From a Pied Piper Bar (shout out to fans of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) and fun meme-inspired temporary tattoos to mingling with CEO Pete Cashmore. Upon entering this space, you were transported to the Bay City. Mashable had several parties and events at the space as well which put a spotlight on different brands and influencers – definitely making this a go-to place during the days and nights during Southby.

“Best Party at SXSWi” – GSD&M: Touted as one of SXSW’s must-attend events each year, we were lucky enough to get an invite and so glad we did. From unique art and live music to delicious food trucks and specialty cocktails – our last night in Austin was well spent on our GSD&M client’s compound.


SXSW Interactive: Top Takeaways So Far

The DGC team has been on the ground for two full days – attending sessions, exploring all the brand activations and trying to soak up all the crazy, serendipitous moments that SXSW has to offer.

Across everything that we’ve been experiencing, it seems like there are two resounding themes to this year’s festival: Virtual Reality and puppies.

VR is here to stay, and will only get bigger and better. We sat in several sessions that touched on virtual reality in some kind of way. From how brands are currently using VR to engage consumers, to how media companies see it changing the content landscape in the next few years, it is very clear that VR is the new platform de jour.

In one session we attended, North Face shared plans to integrate VR into their retail experience and expanded on how they think VR is creating a new visual language for marketers. And we couldn’t agree more as we got to experience different ways brands are using VR as an engagement tool first-hand. From the Samsung VR pedicab rides to the McDonalds VR Lounge – it seems like someone has a VR headset on around every corner.

The other thing around every corner? Puppies!

Mophie, the California-based maker of battery-charging smartphone cases enlisted six motorcyclists to drive around downtown Austin with an unconventional side car guest, a St. Bernard. If you happen to see one of these pups cruising around, you can socialize using #MophieRescue to win a free phone case. Off duty pups are also hanging out at Mophie’s festival headquarters, the “Bad to the Bone Bar” lounge.

SXSW pup

And if that’s not enough, at Gro’s Connected Yard exhibition on busy Rainey Street, puppies from Austin Pets Alive! were a cuddly addition to the mix of tech innovation. SXSW attendees could talk all things digital while petting and even getting the chance to adopt the cute little creatures.

Stay tuned for more #DGCsxswi…


Who’s Ready for SXSWi 2016? What to Keep Your Eye On at This Year’s Festival

The SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) hype machine is in full effect as we inch closer to the event kick off this week (March 11-15) in Austin, Texas. From President Obama’s keynote to promises of robots everywhere, this year’s schedule has more to offer than ever before for all of you makers, creators and digital savants.

But, if you’re struggling to narrow down the packed agenda, you’re in luck. We’ve spent hours combing through the master schedule and reading up on influencers’ predictions. Here’s a snapshot of what to look out for at SXSWi 2016:

  • Continued talk about politics: All eyes will be on Obama as he delivers the opening keynote. The President will participate in a live Q&A with the Texas Tribuneto talk about technology’s growing role in the political process. Considering we’re in the middle of a headline-worthy elections season, this will only be the beginning of the political talk swirling on the ground.
  • I. and Robots, not as futuristic as we think. SXSWi will host the first ever Robot Ranch this year where attendees will have the chance to get up close and personal with A.I. animals. Attendees can get their hands on the different types of robots and chat with creators.
  • Gamergate (the controversy continued): You may remember the controversy around SXSW last fall, when organizers pulled two Gamergate-related panels from the agenda citing “violent threats.” The festival was criticized for giving misogyny a platform and an Internet outcry abounded. Long story short, SXSW re-instated the sessions and added a day-long, live-streamed online harassment summit to discuss the topic.
  • A big startup launch. Last year’s SXSWi saw the launch, and subsequent explosion, of live broadcasting app Meerkat — it was reminiscent of 2007, when Twitter blew up at SXSW, and 2009, when Foursquare accomplished the same feat. Who will attempt it this year? Check out the Startup Village and their signature competition, SXSW Accelerator.

In addition to some of those bigger trends/ events, the DGC team will be on the ground to join clients and report on all the action first-hand. Here are some of the events we’re looking forward to covering:

  • Following Obama’s session on Friday, we’ll be heading over to Austin City Limits to attend a session with 360i’s Chief Strategy Officer who will be talking about innovative brands using data-driven marketing.
  • On Saturday, we’ll be kicking off the weekend at a session with Marie Claire who will be sitting down with the stars of Broad City to discuss the transition of their show from web series to cultural phenom. #yassqueen From there, we’ll be learning about how brands can join the billion-dollar idea club at a session with KITE, Coca-Cola and MasterCard.
  • Later in the day, GSD&M will host a discussion on which risk-taking brands are successfully connecting with their customers via Periscope and Meerkat.
  • We’ll have to divide and conquer on Sunday – the day kicks off with two great sessions at 11am – one with Facebook that will explore the power of A.I. and how it’s posed to shape our future. The other session is hosted by InStyle Magazine – the editor will sit down with Kerry Washington to discuss the “new rules” of stardom. Then, we’ll finish off the day by hosting a #DGCSundayFunday cocktail party at the W Hotel.
  • On Monday, Ogilvy & Mather will be touching on the challenges of marketing to a Latino audience in a session about how they made the Modelo Especial story “special,” not schizophrenic.
  • Before jumping on a flight home on Tuesday, we’ll be sure to catch one last session at the Austin Convention Center. SoulCycle founders will be sharing their story in a session entitled, “How to Create a Movement.” We’ll be taking notes in that one for sure!

To keep abreast of these and other happenings on the ground, follow @DiGennaro and #DGCsxswi + our colleagues who will be in Austin: @SamDiGennaro, @erindonahue, @MarielenaSan, @perezOrourke and @sylvia_zhou,.

See you in Austin!

Face-to-Face With Mobile’s Future

Mobile World Congress 2016

Day One has closed on the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the largest conference in the world dedicated to the art and science of mobile technology. It’s a gathering of the greats who believe passionately in unlocking mobile’s untapped potential.

Mobile video was a headline theme of the day and the topic of a colorful debate in the “Mobile Video Explosion” panel discussion. It was an all-star line-up of the industry’s best mobile players – from Facebook to YouTube to Viacom to Netflix – each sharing their unique points of view.

Facebook’s Head of Global Tech & Telco Strategy, Jane Schachtel shared her views on how video is pushing the boundaries of innovation by creating immersive experiences for people and businesses. Facebook is seeing numerous brands seizing upon this opportunity and firmly believes that video is, “the” global medium that transcends language barriers and sparks great creativity. image1.jpeg

“We’re building a canvas for businesses,” said Schachtel. “If the content is relevant, people will create it and continue to discover it. The richness and relevance on your newsfeed is what’s helped drive such explosive video growth at Facebook.”

Alex Wellen, CNN’s chief product officer, explained how the app, CNNgo, is tracking every story in real time, each minute of the year, annotating real frames with every piece of live content that augments the story.

But there are challenges at the 24 hour news network. CNN “needs to be a technology and storytelling company at the same time, and it’s really tough to be famous for both,” mused Wellen.

There’s good news, though: “People are now binging on [Anthony] Bordain, when no one had consumed news programming like this in the past.”

David Benson, Director, Brand Strategy EMEA for YouTube, agreed about binge watching mobile video content, which he said is driving deep change in the market. Benson added that 400 hours of content are uploaded via YouTube every minute.

“The way in which we consume and connect has been rewritten by mobile,” Benson added. He posited there’s no more water cooler chatter and comparing notes about, “what you watched last night.” In its place, we have become a culture of spoiler alerts and binge-watching.
“We’re having less sex as a result,” said Benson, who cordially invited us to chat with him after the panel for more info on the “sex” stat.

The consensus among all the panelists: Mobile is exploding and there’s an obligation to continue to make great content — via stellar storytelling — so that people will to want to engage.

In his day-one closing keynote, the one-and-only Mark Zuckerberg took the video discussion to the next level saying that video will have to get increasingly better for virtual reality; in particular, resolution will have to be very high.

Zuckerberg closed with something important to consider, “Video is just as big in 2016 as mobile was in 2012. Bandwidth opens up desire to make and consume videos, which makes the developers want more, which ultimately perpetuates demand.”

 A great finish to a great opening day.

 I am looking forward to a week of seeing and hearing about the technology and creativity that is going to reshape our world.

 More soon.  #MWC16 #MWCVID



On Music’s Biggest Night, the Ads Shine Bright

We love music because it puts into words our thoughts and feelings in a way that we would want them to be said. Last night’s Grammy Awards celebrated the music and performers that create the soundtrack to our lives.

Yet, between the stomps of Kendrick Lamar and the soulful stylings of Bonnie Raitt, it became clear that brands were at the top of their game last night – composing a number of notable advertising masterpieces. In our opinion, this year’s Grammy’s advertisers were remarkably more creative than what we saw during the Super Bowl.

Here’s three we thought tapped into the Grammy’s spirit.

  • Lady Gaga as the ultimate chameleon, David Bowie, was pure gold. So too was connecting her with tech giant Intel for pre and post-performance spots. Taking us behind the scenes of Gaga’s spectacular performance demonstrated the integral role Intel plays for brand innovation in the music space. Just imagine what Intel could do for you!
  • If a premium is placed on knowing your audience then should receive an award for their #CATmagedeon spot. With teen smoking on the rise, Truth eschewed the traditional scared straight approach to health warnings. Taking aim at the unique relationship between people and their pets, Truth combined cute with poignant to deliver a strong message that is sure to resonate on social media.
  • Gwen Stefani and Target had audiences guessing: Is it an ad or a video? The live four-minute, seven costume change performance – replete with roller skates – left audiences breathless and gave Target a few cool points.

Great music just doesn’t happen, it’s the culmination of talent, experience and courage.  The same for great advertising.  Our big winners sought to tap into the power of the 25 million Grammy viewers – the most for any entertainment show this year. The brands each understood who viewers of the Grammy’s are and what’s important to them. So, will ads during the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards begin to rival the Super Bowl? If brands become as courageous as musicians like Lady Gaga then the answer is, yes.

Super Bowl Advertising: the Big Game, the Big Stories

The Super Bowl is about stories: the big catch that wins the game, the goal line stand that stops a crucial touchdown, the thrilling (and sometime shocking) half time performances. This is what marketers do every day. Little wonder, then, that the Super Bowl has become as much about the advertising as it is about the game…walking hand-in-hand to create to create sports narratives and iconic commercials that will be talked about for years to come.

And so on Sunday night, while an ambitious young quarterback battled a veteran looking to write a final chapter to a celebrated career, 80 ads were seen by 115 million viewers around the world.

What marked 2016’s crop of ads was its decidedly straightforward approach: humor, celebrities and cute animals carried the day. The tone was light and celebratory in keeping with the game’s national status as a quasi-holiday. The price tags were high with the cost of a 30-second spot reaching a new high (a whopping $5 million). We’ve shared some of the most compelling highlights below:

  • Cuteness, Canines and Ketchup: If you’re an animal lover you weren’t disappointed – there was an endless parade of animals throughout the game. The Clydesdales made an appearance for Budweiser, as did a stampede of wiener dogs reunited with their ketchup bottles for Heinz, a flock of sheep sang the lyrics to “Somebody to Love” and one of the most buzzed about creatures: the “puppymonkeybaby” – a diaper clad baby bottom, monkey torso, dog head for a Mountain Dew spot.
  • Celeb-ration: From Alec Baldwin, Steve Harvey, to Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen, there was an onslaught of famous faces during the commercials. Take this highly-praised spot for Avocados From Mexico, created by Austin-based creative agency GSD&M, which featured “Happy Days” actor, Scott Baio. Another fun spot featured celebrity recording artist Janelle Monae paying homage to iconic songs in this pre-half time show spot for Pepsi.
  • Autos in the driver’s seat: It’s no surprise to see car ads during the Super Bowl, but brands like Hyundai and Prius captured the audience’s attention and sent a buzz through social media. Christopher Walken also made an appearance for Kia in this ad from creative agency, David & Goliath.
  • New Advertisers Taking the Plunge: As you’d expect, the Super Bowl featured many established brands, Budweiser, Doritos alongside big-name soda brands. What surprised us this year were the first-time brands who paid big dollars to get in front of a huge, captive audience, especially tech brands. From PayPal to SoFi (an online lending start up), to Bai, Amazon, LG Electronics SunTrust Banks and even pharma companies there were many first-timers who entered the game.

We also noted that while the Super Bowl ads certainly entertained, the more lofty commercials that look at the human condition were in short supply. We’ve come to expect these kinds of cinematic and inspirational ads from brands such as Coca-Cola. Instead, the brand ran a commercial featuring the Incredible Hulk and Ant-Man arguing over a ‘mini’ can of soda. A far cry from the rousing ads and motivating messages they’ve typically delivered.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing marketing moments of Super Bowl 50 was not scripted by any adverting agency. When asked what the future held, Peyton Manning replied he was looking forward to drinking, “a lot of Budweiser.” The twice repeated reference was PR gold; a hero’s endorsement in the golden moment.

Today, Madison Avenue, much like the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, will take a collective step back to debate what worked and what didn’t. They’ll go over every move along their journey to discern the right moves from the wrong ones. If there’s one theme they all share – it’s that they went big and gave it their all.  Stay tuned…the story continues next year.


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