3 Super Bowl Commercials That Struck an Empathic Chord This Year, 2020

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  • by Kellie Coppola

In my opinion,, The Super Bowl has three functions: one, to watch football; two, to eat my weight in fried foods and enjoy every bite; and three, to watch the commercials.  This year, titans of advertising took the stage (Google, Tide Verizon), along with some others less expected, and gave it their all in 60 seconds of pinnacle marketing prime time.  Some years have been great, others have fallen short in the entertainment department, but every year, I watch as an empathy benchmark, to see how far brands have come in understanding the people they are serving, and thus how much work SEEK can do. This year was a big step. Here are my thoughts on three that definitely struck an empathic chord.

Google

I don’t think I could physically write this post without addressing this ad, as I’m still tearing up about it.  This one is all about Google Home’s feature of remembering things but framed in a way that tugs at the very core of what is most important to remember– the people we love. 

This one centers around the Google history of an old man trying to keep himself from forgetting his wife who died, by first googling how not to forget.he response is: “by repeating a detail over and over.” The next montage is a back and forth of him asking Google Home for pictures of them together, their wedding, asking Google Home to play their movie, and finishes with asking Google to remind him that he is the luckiest man in the world.  The end claim, “a little help with the little things” ties it all back to how we go through life not always picking up on the little details. The story reminds us that the little details matter a whole lot when it comes to our relationships, and I don’t know about you, but that really hit home.

New York Life Insurance- Agape 

This one I didn’t see coming, at all.  Perhaps because it took the very foundations of my expectations for the subject matter and completely turned it on its head, breathing new life—if you will— into a topic that feels like an ominous and foreboding checkpoint...a benefit we never really want to consider using until that’s all that is left to do. 

New York Life Insurance did something I dare say few other insurance companies ever do, talk about insurance in a way that doesn’t sound like they’re talking about it: literally...at a funeral. Instead, they talk about the deeper human need that we all have at any point in our lives: to feel, give, and receive love. 

This commercial opens up on the four different types of love coined by the ancient Greeks—Philia, Storge, Eros, and Agape. The last one is the focus, the one they laude as the most important type of love, it is the love that takes the form of action, in hopes of truly benefitting the other person. The most human part of it all is how we see NY Life come into play- how we feel about the love we gave. The ad carefully positions New York Life insurance as a way to act on our love for people, rewarded with the feeling we all want when reflecting: that we did the right thing and loved to our fullest extent.  They make New York Life Insurance a way to show love and if that is how everyone would talk about it, I wouldn’t be so scared of checking that box during enrollment. 

Bud Light Seltzer- #Postystore

Have you ever been absolutely paralyzed when making a decision between one thing and another? The decision might seem so trivial but the mental gymnastics in your head to get to an answer you’re comfortable with feels so difficult, it’s frustrating. 

If you’re like me, the answer to that is— yes, every day. And Bud Light makes us all feel a little better as we watch the dramatized struggle in Post Malone’s brain as he walks into a gas station for Bud Light, is completely rerouted by a new option (Bud light Seltzer), and then we watch the control center in his brain go wild as they have the internal debate—accessing everything from the taste claims, his drinking preference, the possibility of trying something new— thrashing about and virtually destroying the store as he waivers between the two beers. Eventually, he gets both. 

They do a great job of empathic execution, except for the end. The reason why he ends up choosing both is because Post Malone is “incredibly rich,” which is great and true for Post Malone, but not for everyone else who isn’t Post Malone. Thus, from a strategy perspective, making money the reason why they should try something new isn’t convincing enough when money isn’t an option. 

At the end of the day, this blog could’ve been a novel. Other honorable mentions including the NFL, Kia, and Verizon, all did great things in the empathic space. This year’s batch of commercials gives me great hope for brands (and another reason to watch if the Bills don’t make it) in the years to come.