As the executors of some of the most familiar and most powerful brands on the globe, the chief marketing officers of automakers are providing some of the most important brand messages to consumers as the world presses through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And while individually, brands such as Jeep and Kia are taking widely varying tacks in how they approach extremely jangled consumers these days, the collective message of these CEOs has been, “Pull together, yet shelter in place. Be optimistic that brighter days ahead. And in the meantime – it’s easier than ever to buy a car.”
“In these days, we want to be more relevant than ever,” Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer for Fiat Chrysler Automotive, told Chief Executive. “It’s not about making our commercial message relevant but about speaking to the only thing that matters to the whole world right now, the one thing that is left: public health.
“So in this case, we have to sing with the choir – but it’s a good choir. I have no problem singing with other advertisers as long as it’s about delivering this essential message: Stay at home. Yet we want to do it in a way that is true to our brands and cuts through the clutter.”
So FCA’s brands mostly have been advertising via their social-media channels and expressing Francois’s essential message in ways unique to each marque. For instance, in new online commercials for Jeep, whose meme these days is #StayOfftheRoad, the actor Bill Murray worked with Francois to reprise his hit role in the Super Bowl commercial in February – a game that was actually held on Groundhog Day, February 2 — that reimagined the movie Groundhog Day as a Jeep adventure.
Toyota started out with a purely inspirational message in its first TV ads of the coronavirus era a few weeks ago, under the rubric, “We’re here for you.” But more recently the brand pivoted to a more practical approach in new TV ads that starred “Jan,” Toyota’s long-time signature character for retail relationships. In a handful of ads that were actually shot in the actress’s home by her real-life husband, Jan reminded Americans that Toyota and its dealers very much remain open for business and available to meet their service needs.
“The inspirational message we had at the beginning is similar to the inspirational messages of a lot of companies,” Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota marketing, told Chief Executive. “But we know that people have a need in the marketplace, for instance in terms of parts and services for vehicles and keeping their own cars on the streets for various reasons. We wanted them to understand that our service departments are open to them.
“It’s about the relationships that we have with our customers as well as with our dealers,” Laukes added. “Inspirational messages are fantastic, but people also like action items to help them during this transition time to the future.”
And while nearly every auto brand these days has broken out extremely liberal financing officers to attempt to keep some kind of sales stream going, including many zero-percent-financing pitches, Hyundai’s approach has emphasized a particular kind of help. The brand has advertised Hyundai Assurance, in which the company covers car payments for up to six months for Americans who’ve lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 “pause.” It’s a revisit of the remarkably trailblazing job-loss-protection program that Hyundai launched amid the Great Recession in 2009.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘We’re in it together,’ and we feel that too,” Angela Zepeda, CMO of Hyundai North America, told Chief Executive. “We just felt that we needed to do something to show people we know they’re hurting. And if we can help with their car payment, we should do that.”
Meanwhile, Hyundai’s sibling brand, Kia, also has taken a bit of a different approach than other brands: by focusing on helping homeless youth through the Covid-19 crisis. Kia Motors America announced that it plans to donate $1 million to the cause and launched a broadcast-TV spot highlighting the particular vulnerability of that cohort to the coronavirus.
Kia’s emphasis on helping homeless youth follows up on its TV ad during the Super Bowl that featured Josh Jacobs, a star running back for the Oakland Radiers who spent much of his youth homeless.
“It’s fitting right now, if you’ve got somewhere to go, to shelter in place,” Michael Cole, president of Kia in the U.S., told Chief Executive. “But if you’re on the street, that’s pretty tough. So we’re working with a number of different charities, ones we’d worked with for the Super Bowl, to help the most vulnerable people during Covid-19. That’s the social platform of our message.”
At the same time, all automotive leaders are yearning for the day they can field a different kind of message: “It’s time to shake yourself out of your despond, America, and reignite the economy! (And maybe buy a car.)”
Kia’s marketing brain trust, for instance, is “having a conversation every day about what does it look like when we come out the other end of this,” Cole said. “We think there are ways we’ll be able to pivot pretty quickly. We had great [sales] momentum coming into this situation, which is probably helping us compared with some competitors. If we keep that momentum going, and positivity around our brand, it will help.”
Francois explained that FCA’s message of reassurance combined with an exhortation to social-distancing compliance “right now is where we think we can be useful. But we have to be ready to jump to the next move, with a more uplifting message down the road. We have to approach it in a way that’s sensible and human. We have to be careful, with an awareness about switching the light back on.”
Short-form video app TikTok announced today it’s committing more than $250 million to support front-line workers, educators and local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an additional $125 million in advertising credits to public health organizations and businesses looking to rebuild. Some of these funds are being directed toward major health organizations, like the CDC and WHO, while other funds are aimed at helping individuals or smaller businesses.
The $250 million includes three separate efforts: the TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok Community Relief Fund and TikTok Creative Learning Fund.
The first is the most significant effort, as it …
The coronavirus (COVID-19) will by far have the most impact on the technology industry in 2020. It will put incredible strain on the world’s economy, which will be effectively halted for three months or more. It is effectively a stress test on companies’ ability to cope with extreme shocks. COVID-19 …
Reddit, the popular discussion site visited by over 430 million people per month, is opening up some of its most valuable screen real estate to advertisers with the launch of its first trending ad product, the Trending Takeover. The new ad unit will allow brands to reach visitors on two of …
As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to take on the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for Super Bowl 2020 on Feb. 2, marketers were gearing up off the field to do battle for spectators’ attention.
And with the cost of a 30-second spot on Fox hitting as much as $5.6 million this year, the stakes are higher than ever.
Some advertisers are making their Super Bowl debut, with Facebook and hummus brand Sabra joining regulars like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Avocados From Mexico and Pepsi.
The game is also going to get political this year, with President Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaigns buying 60-second ads. And tech companies are making their mark, with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon airing commercials this year.
Here’s a look at all the ads that are slated to run in the big game. (The list only includes national advertisers.)
Amazon has released two teasers for its Super Bowl spot this year, which stars celebrity couple Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi asking people how things worked in the pre-Alexa era.
Watch one of the teasers below:
Returning to the Super Bowl for the 11th time, Audi is kicking off a new global campaign to redefine its “Vorsprung durch Technik” marketing slogan, which translates to “progress through technology.”
Avocados From Mexico
Avocados From Mexico will run its sixth consecutive Super Bowl spot this year. The 30-second spot that EnergyBBDO, Havas Media, Richards Lerma and Padilla collaborated on is expected to center on America’s obsession with avocados.
Here’s a 15-second teaser it has released starring Golden Globe-nominated actress, singer and author Molly Ringwald:
Super Bowl 2020 is all set to become a political battlefield, with both Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns running ads.
Anheuser-Busch InBev is pushing Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzer ad this year, which is its 40th as an official sponsor.
The spot, by Wieden + Kennedy, focuses on the “mayor” of Seltzer, Pa.
Watch the teaser here:
Budweiser is known for its memorable Super Bowl ads, and this year’s, by David Miami and filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, runs 60 seconds.
The ad, released on Jan. 23, aims to celebrate the best of the American spirit and juxtaposes everyday acts of kindness and epic personal achievements with some of the most common labels placed on people.
Watch it below:
Cheetos is returning to the Super Bowl after 11 years, with a 30-second spot by Goodby Silverstein & Partners featuring rapper MC Hammer and his song “Can’t Touch This.”
Watch the teaser below:
Coca-Cola is returning to the Super Bowl with a 60-second commercial after a hiatus in 2019.
The soda giant hasn’t revealed which of its brands will be featured in the ad, but there’s speculation that it will advertise either Coke Energy or a sparkling water called Aha. The beverages are set to launch in January and March, respectively.
Discover will run two 15-second spots by The Martin Agency in the same commercial break during the Super Bowl, with an ad running in between.
The ads are pop-culture montages that drive the message that Discover cards are both no-fee and widely accepted.
Here’s one of the spots:
Doritos’ commercial by Goodby Silverstein & Partners features Sam Elliott reciting the lyrics to “Old Town Road” from Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.
Its 2019 spot for Flamin’ Hot Nacho-flavored Doritos also had a musical bent, featuring Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys.
Watch the teaser below:
Ten years after making its first Super Bowl ad, Google will run its fifth ad this Sunday.
The tearjerker features Google’s virtual assistant helping an elderly man remember his late wife.
Facebook is making its Super Bowl debut with a 60-second spot promoting its Groups feature and starring Chris Rock and Sylvester Stallone.
The spot, created by agency Wieden + Kennedy, is all about rocks: rock music, rocking chairs, rock climbing and even Stonehenge, and it comes as the tech company has been attempting to rebuild consumer trust after a spate of controversies in recent years.
Here’s a teaser:
Hard Rock International
Hospitality brand Hard Rock International is cashing in on the Super Bowl happening at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami with its first commercial at the big game.
The spot, directed by Michael Bay, is set to air at the end of the second quarter.
Heinz is returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2016 with a 30-second spot in the second quarter.
The commercial by Wieden + Kennedy was directed by Roman Coppola, son of Francis Ford Coppola.
Hyundai returns to the Super Bowl for the 12th time in 13 years with a 60-second commercial in the first quarter, highlighting its new Sonata with remote smart parking.
The spot highlights the Boston accent and features four Boston-linked celebrities: actors Chris Evans and John Krasinski, comedian Rachel Dratch and Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz.
The car maker is set to make its 11th consecutive appearance in the big game in a spot produced by David & Goliath, in which a 10-year-old boy replaces a star athlete in a press conference.
Watch the teaser below:
Pizza chain Little Caesars will its first Super Bowl commercial this year, highlighting its move into delivery with DoorDash. The ad, produced by ad agency McKinney, will star The Office actor Rainn Wilson.
Catch the teaser below:
Michelob Ultra is yet another Anheuser-Busch InBev brand in Super Bowl 2020, and it’s running a star-studded 60-second spot this year with Jimmy Fallon, John Cena, Usain Bolt, Brooks Koepka and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
After running a 45-second ASMR-themed spot with Zoe Kravitz last year, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold is running a 60-second commercial created by FCB this year.
The ad encourages people to buy a six-pack of the lager, since a portion of sales will reportedly go to farmers transitioning to organic farmland.
After showing how the Xbox Adaptive Controller helps children with disabilities play video games, Microsoft is returning to the big game to tout its Surface tablet.
The ad showcases the story of San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers, who is set to become the first woman to coach in the big game on Sunday.
Mtn Dew is back in the game after sitting it out in 2019 with a 30-second ad by TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, starring Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross.
The ad for Zero Sugar riffs on a classic scene from the 1980 horror film The Shining — replacing the repetitive typing of the line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” with “New Mtn Dew Zero Sugar. As good as the original. Maybe even better.”
National Football League
The NFL will air a 60-second ad during the game promoting its “Inspire Change” program and another spot running right before kickoff that is part of its 100-year celebration. The ad is produced by agency 72andSunny, originally aired Jan. 19 and takes a political stance on police shootings targeting black men.
New York Life
The life insurance company is returning to the Super Bowl after decades to mark its 175th anniversary and kick off its “Love Takes Action” campaign.
The 60-second commercial by Anomaly will air between the first and second quarters.
Olay is coming back with its second consecutive Super Bowl spot this year with an all-female cast in a 30-second ad by the agency Badger & Winters.
The ad is inspired by last year’s all-female spacewalk and stars Canadian comedien Lilly Singh, actress Busy Philipps, retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Taraji P. Henson and Katie Couric.
Watch the teaser below:
The longtime Super Bowl advertiser is returning to the big game with a 30-second commercial starring Missy Elliott and H.E.R. that will promote Pepsi Zero Sugar in a matte black can.
VaynerMedia is again producing the 30-second Super Bowl spot for Planters, which will air during the third quarter and depict its mascot Mr. Peanut’s funeral.
Planters shared a precursor to the official spot that shows Mr. Peanut sacrificing himself to save his friends Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes, and it’s scheduled to air shortly before the Super Bowl.
The Kellogg’s brand will air its first Super Bowl spot: a 30-second ad starring Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness and promoting a new pretzel flavor.
The ad, by agency MRY, will run right before the two-minute warning in the first half of the game.
Volkswagen is advertising Porsche in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997 to tout the Taycan, its first all-electric vehicle. Agency Cramer-Krasselt produced the ad.
“The Chase” features the Taycan Turbo S in a Fast & Furious-style car chase after someone steals it from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
Here is an extended cut:
Pringles will air a 30-second commercial during the second quarter with Adult Swim‘s Rick and Morty.
The chip maker’s third Super Bowl ad was produced by Adult Swim and ad agency Grey. The company also plans to launch a “Pickle Rick” flavor in stores.
Quicken Loans debuted its first Super Bowl ad in 2016 and will return this year after most recently airing a commercial in 2018.
Its 60-second ad for its online lender brand, Rocket Mortgage, will feature Aquaman actor Jason Momoa in various home situations. It’s slated to appear in the first half of the game.
Here’s a teaser:
Sabra is making its Super Bowl debut this year with a 30-second spot by VaynerMedia.
The spot has a star-studded cast, from rapper T-Pain to drag queens Miz Cracker and Kim Chi, as well as Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Caroline Manzo and Teresa Giudice.
Here’s a teaser:
Snickers is returning to the big game after 2017 to celebrate its 90th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of its “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign that Betty White helped kick off in 2010.
Its 30-second commercial, produced by BBDO New York and AMV BBDO, will air in the first quarter of the game.
Here’s a teaser, in which construction workers tell the camera why they “dig”:
PepsiCo’s SodaStream is returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in six years with an ad starring Bill Nye.
Bryan Buckley, who directed SodaStream’s 2014 commercial, is also behind this year’s 30-second ad. The spot, which will run right before the halftime show, was produced by Goodby Silverstein & Partners.
Watch the teaser below:
Squarespace is making a comeback this year after sitting out last year. It produced a 30-second spot that’s slated to run between the first and second quarters.
After featuring Keanu Reeves, Jeff Bridges and John Malkovich in the past, Squarespace’s 2020 ad features Winona Ryder in her hometown of Winona, Minn.
Watch the spot below:
After sitting out the Super Bowl in 2019, Tide is back in the big game. The Procter & Gamble detergent brand’s longtime agency partner, Saatchi & Saatchi New York, worked on the ad as a part of P&G’s Woven collaborative agency.
Toyota is running its third Super Bowl ad in a row, a 60-second spot by Saatchi & Saatchi that will promote the Highlander SUV.
Like Michael Bloomberg’s, President Donald Trump’s campaign also spent more than $10 million for 60 seconds of ad time.
The ad will run early in the game and will be relatively isolated that politics doesn’t overshadow the other commercials, reported NBC News and Ad Age.
The DIY tax preparation app will be back on the big stage for the seventh consecutive year, with a 45-second spot by Wieden + Kennedy.
The ad is part of a campaign that kicked off during the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 and will promote the idea of making people comfortable doing their own taxes.
David Miami and David Madrid produced the 30-second spot, which is scheduled to air in the third quarter and brings Turkish Airlines back to the Super Bowl for the fifth time.
Check out the spot, which was directed by Ridley Scott, here:
Super Bowl regular Verizon will air a 60-second commercial produced by McCann during the first half of the game.
Like last year, the spot will focus on first responders but also promote 5G, with several activations on-site including a 5G live stream.
See the teaser below:
The maker of car mats will appear on the Super Bowl ad schedule for the seventh time this year, with a 30-second commercial produced by its agency of record, Pinnacle Advertising.
In the past, WeatherTech has highlighted “Made in America” messaging in its Super Bowl ads.
Hulu is preparing to roll out new forms of advertising this year — one which will allow viewers to have more say in the ads that plays, and another that lets the viewer engage with the brand in question, either by getting information sent directly to their mobile phone or by using QR codes. In later months, Hulu is also considering digital product insertion to enhance the ad opportunities within its own original programming.
The new ad formats are the latest to join an already innovative lineup of ad experiences for Hulu, where the company hasn’t been hesitant about trying out new ideas to make ads more user-friendly. For example, Hulu last year introduced pause ads that pop up only when viewers take a break from streaming. And last month, it rolled out new ‘binge watch ads‘ that allow brands to sponsor ad-free episodes when Hulu detects that a viewer is binge-watching their way through a series.
The goal with these ad experiences is to find a way to make advertising less disruptive to the viewer. In 2020, Hulu is also focused on making its ads more engaging.
In the case of the forthcoming choice-based ads — a sort of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ for advertising — viewers will be able to select which ads from a brand they want to see. For example, users could choose to see ads about ski vacations from a travel company’s ad, or they could watch an ad about beach getaways. They could even pick which option they wanted with their remote.
In addition, Hulu is planning to roll out new transactional ads to help viewers engage with brands of interest. While 80% of viewing today takes place on the TV screen, most people don’t want to transact on the big screen — they’d rather use a computer or a mobile device. In this case, if the viewer wants more information from the advertiser, Hulu will be able to push that to their phone. This could be done by using the mobile phone number or email attached to a Hulu user’s account (given permission, of course), or viewers could hold up their phone to scan a QR code on the ad itself to take more immediate action.
The information the advertiser shares could include a link that takes the viewer right to a website — like a retailer’s shopping site, for example.
“This goes back to that viewer-first advertising promise: less disruptive, more engaging, and more functional. And it will really allow us to improve both the viewer experience and the advertiser’s ROI,” says Jeremy Helfand, VP and Head of Advertising Platforms at Hulu, in a conversation last week at CES.
The new ad formats will round four main themes Hulu is developing for its advertising experiences — situational, which is based on user behavior, as with pause and binge ads; choice-based, which allows the viewer to make a selection; transactional, where the viewer engages with the brand; and integrated storytelling, which is focused on integration sponsorships to blend the brand and content into a more seamless experience.
While Hulu has already dipped its toes into integrated storytelling with several ad experiences, the company is now thinking about the next steps for these ads, Helfand notes.
“We do think that there is a future where we’re able to fuse brands into the content, post-production,” he says. That is, Hulu could digitally insert product placements into its own programming.
“We’re excited about what’s coming up with cooking content on Hulu Kitchen. Theoretically, we could take a KitchenAid mixer and put it on the table even though it’s not there,” he adds, referring to Hulu’s plans for new original food series, including shows from Chrissy Teigen, David Chang, and Eater.
The technology to do this sort of digital ad insertion exists, but Hulu doesn’t know if it plans to develop its own in-house or acquire or partner with a company that already works in this space.
“You have to be able to read the metadata underneath the content as well as visually scan the content,” Helfand explains. “We’ve got a lot of content recognition work that’s already going on inside of Hulu which we use for lots of different reasons, not just for advertising. But there’s also a number of third parties — there’s a whole ad technology industry that’s emerging about being about to do things like that — and we’re looking at partners, as well,” he says.
One area that’s not being prioritized are the ad-supported downloads Hulu once promised. Instead of working out how to deliver offline viewing with ads included, Hulu is thinking about other models — like sponsored downloads, perhaps. But its focus for the near-term is on these newer forms of advertising, not on ad-supported downloads.
“We’re always thinking about the viewer experience and how do we deliver the very best viewer experience. And that obsession with the viewer extends to advertising. Consumers have a choice…They have a choice whether they want an ad-free experience or they want an ad-supported experience. And if they choose an ad-supported search experience, we want to make sure that that experience is just as good as an ad-free one,” says Helfand.
A teenager named Dorothy recently became viral on Twitter when she started tweeting with unusual devices, including her gaming console and smart fridge, after her mom confiscated her phone. Dorothy won thousands of likes and retweets and also started a hashtag #FreeDorothy soon after she tweeted.
The episode gives us a glimpse of the future where it wouldn’t be weird for us to talk to our devices. What was once just a fad and a buzzword has become a reality today; our world is slowly turning into a sci-fi movie that we’ve always fantasized about. The availability of high-speed internet has made it possible for every device to be connected to the internet. From cellphones to washing machines and even to your simple toaster, household items have the ability to become “smart.” Imagine your clock sending a notification to your coffee maker to start brewing coffee as soon as you are up. Around 64 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2025.
The world of smart devices is not only changing every aspect of our lives, it also spells good news for businesses that are leveraging them to reduce their costs and to improve efficiency. General Electric has developed a software called Predix that uses data from smart machines, combines it with traditional data and then predicts maintenance needs. Rolls Royce has also equipped its engines with intelligent sensors. The data from these sensors is combined with traffic control operations to ensure smoother flight operations.
Tech giants are well aware of the potential of IoT in changing the dynamics of social media; hence, they have jumped into the race of investing in IoT. Ahead of the pack is Facebook, which is working on its own virtual assistant to rival the likes of Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The social media giant will likely use this assistant with its Portal video chat smart speakers, Oculus headsets or any other future projects.
Similarly, Life360, a family messaging app is putting its bet on IoT. The messaging app has already partnered with the Duchossois Group to integrate the app into smart home products. The app is also working with auto companies such as BMW and Ford.
Tenscent, the parent company of the famous social messaging app WeChat, is also showing interest in this arena. The company recently announced its open-source platform for developers to work on IoT projects, which will allow the company to perfect its solutions. TenscentOS Tiny, as the operating system is named, is lighter and easier to use. Tenscent hopes that it will encourage developers to work on projects related to smart cities, vehicles and wearables.
Connecting People With Things
Social media companies were born with the aim of connecting people with people. However, it seems their mission has now changed to connecting people with things. The more devices that are connected to the internet, the more opportunities marketers have to take their brand to their consumers.
Coca Cola has found a very creative hack with smart fridges. The soda giant is testing a new interactive fridge that has social media, facial recognition and augmented reality to share marketing offers and content to specific consumers. Coca Cola can use information from the facial recognition software to push out specific offers based on consumers’ demographics and moods.
Walgreens is also testing “smart” displays. It is developing a new technology with sensors, cameras and digital screens. These refrigerators and doors will act as digital in-store billboards that will display customized ads to whomever approaches them based on different factors such as age. Around 15 brands, including Nestle and Conagra, have already signed up.
Diaego took IoT advertising to the next level when it connected 100,000 bottles to the internet to send personalized messages to fathers. People who gifted whiskey to their fathers were able to personalize their messages. The results were tremendous, as Diaego saw a 72% jump in sales on Father’s Day.
Tide partnered with Amazon to very creatively increase its sales. It connected Amazon Dash buttons to the Amazon app. So, whenever you are running low on detergent, you can press it and Tide will turn up on your doorstep in a few days.
Marketers Are Catching Up
We ditched TV to escape those annoying commercials, but marketers found new ways to get eyeballs. They crept in social media and started bombarding us with ads on every video we watched. Now, they have sneaked into our homes as well.
However, we do have to give them credit for creativity. With this level of personalization, these ads don’t seem intrusive. They make sure you only see what you are interested in. Perhaps we are headed to a time when we will be more welcoming towards advertisements instead of running away from them.