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Alistair Schoonmaker of Ultra Brand Studio picks his desert island (Super Bowl) ads

Alistair Schoonmaker, Co-Founder & Managing Director at Ultra Brand Studio picks his Superbowl Desert Island Ads

This year’s Super Bowl is looming into view. On 11 February, the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas. It will be the usual mix of sporting drama and American razzamatazz (plus this year some added Taylor in the stands). And of course, the big brands bringing their A-game to the party.

Ad breaks and American sports, especially at the Super Bowl, go hand in hand, so it’s a golden opportunity to showcase top draw creative thinking in a prime-time environment. Last year, 113 million viewers in the US tuned in with the average cost of a 30 minute ad spot coming in at $7 million.

It’s all fair game creatively as long as a brand shows up with a sense of self-awareness of the moment. The best ones are a radical expression of a brand idea or product that somehow entertains us, challenges us with a purpose or message, or surprises us in some way with what’s possible. You’ve got a huge audience, so why waste that opportunity by doing the same thing that you would normally do?

At Ultra, it’s our mission to avoid sameness. And these Super Bowl-themed Desert Island Ads do just that. They break away from the conventional and play with audiences’ expectations.

Desert Island Ads

Always – ‘Like a Girl’

First up is the Like a Girl ad from Always. It’s a good example of challenging accepted stereotypes or norms without guilt marketing. It’s difficult to balance a serious message during a sporting moment like the Super Bowl. And this one walks the line nicely while avoiding some ‘sameness’ pitfalls of purpose marketing that would make an important message blend in with the wallpaper of the moment.

Tide – ‘It’s a Tide Ad’

The next one is It’s a Tide Ad from Tide. Instead of trying to own and focus the audience’s attention inwardly for 60 seconds, I love how the writing steps the ad out of its own box into different realities and makes every ad a ‘Tide Ad’. Pure entertainment and self-awareness knowing the kind of commercials this ad would sit next to.

Coinbase – QR Code:


My third choice is Coinbase’s QR code commercial. This one may or may not surprise you and I like that’s an unabashed middle finger to the pile of cash that goes into the pomp of a Super Bowl spot. Like wearing colo(u)r at Wimbledon. I like the disruptiveness of it – but you can only do this once.

Doritos/Mountain Dew – Freeman vs Dinklage Song Of Ice and Fire

Next up is the Doritos/Mountain Dew commercial – the Freeman vs Dinklage song of ice and fire. Conversely to Coinbase, if your aim is to entertain with product marketing, this one dials up the unexpected without it being weird for weird’s sake (for example, puppy/monkey/baby). And there’s no sameness about a Peter Dinklage/Busta vs Morgan Freeman/Missy Elliot rap battle. Like on the pitch, those are some seriously big names clashing.

Google – ‘Loretta’

The final ad is ‘Loretta’ from Google. I like this one because it humanises technology in a way most technology or mobile brands don’t get quite right – Google included. At the heart of this though is the storytelling – you are right in the life of the couple. Most ads rely on film to deliver emotion but this one does it beautifully with stills, sound design and music all rooted in the genuine application of the product.

Alistair Schoonmaker is co-founder & managing director at Ultra Brand Studio.

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