As markets get saturated, companies need to find ways to draw consumers away from competitors and towards their brand. For the 2019 Super Bowl, Pepsi and Bud Light created commercials that reflect this phenomenon.
Over the past couple of years, Pepsi has put a lot of effort into partnering with various organizations, such as restaurants and university, to have exclusive rights at those establishments. The downside of not allowing a choice to consumers is that they end up disappointed if they were in the mood for a Coca-Cola. To counter this effect, Pepsi created a mass marketing ad for the Super Bowl, featuring cameos from well-liked celebrities.
With the goal of having the viewers identify with the ad, it starts with an average unknown woman ordering a Coke and being disappointed that the diner doesn’t have it. Pepsi signals a change in mood as soon as Steve Carell comes into the frame. This celebrity is specifically chosen for his acclaim in the comedy genre and is used with the intent to change the viewer’s mind. His outrage and his rhetorical questions encourage the viewer to reconsider their assumptions and beliefs. Finally, to drive the point home, Lil Jon and Cardi B are brought into the ad to symbolize prestige and a luxurious lifestyle. By the end, Pepsi hopes that the viewers react like the customer in the ad and change their minds.
The Bud Light commercial in the Super Bowl also featured surreal comedy. The point of the ad is to improve the image of their brand while highlighting the negative aspect of corn syrup use of the other brands. While this ad is very simple, it has a high chance of doing what it needs to in the context of mass advertising: catching the attention of the masses. The crossover aspect of the ad has high potential of drawing the attention of Game of Thrones fans, which comes at a good time as the buzz for the final Game of Thrones season draws near. If that is not enough, the surreal comedy aspect of the ad draws in fans of movies like Monty Python and is it out of the ordinary, thus able to break through the clutter. In the end, the message is clear: buy Bud Light because all of the competitors use unhealthy products.
Mercedes, on the other hand, is not in a market that is as saturated. Being a luxury product, customer usually seek out the products for their features and the prestige that it brings them. As a result, its Super Bowl ad was solely focused on the Mercedes brand and had no mention of the competitors.
What’s particularly interesting about this ad is the fact that the brand is only introduced in the very end. The entire ad is leading up to that point saying: if you want to be in control like this character, you need our newest Mercedes. The goal of this ad is to have the viewer identify their ideal self with the character presented in the ad in order to get the urge to buy the car. This strategy of focusing on the consumer and the product is clearly the opposite of the saturated market strategy of competitor brand comparison.
Did you identify with any of these ads? How did the fact of identifying with the characters change your product views?