What’s my favorite ad of the year? The one that was able to make it.

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anna-kendrick-newcastle-hed-2014

Well, another year has passed and it’s time to evaluate which ads have been great and in some cases, not-so-great.

In the spirit of being optimistic, I’d like to focus on my absolute favorite advertisement of the year. Ironically, the ad that did it for me was a Super Bowl ad that actually didn’t even play during the Super Bowl. I know, you’re probably thinking-how can an ad get Super Bowl street cred without actually airing during the big game? Yes, some ads are just that good.

Well if you were fortunate enough to see Newcastle Brown Ale’s advertising campaign “If We Made It” starring Anna Kendrick, then you probably understand the value of this ad. And I’m not the only who gets it- the spot happens to be Adweek’s pick for the No. 1 ad campaign of 2014.

For those who haven’t seen it – Newcastle had big plans to buy one of the most coveted advertising positions out there, a 30 second spot during the biggest sporting event of the year. After crunching the numbers however, they suddenly realized that they were missing one minor detail: money. Not exactly a technicality, right? Well Newcastle’s rebound plan was nimble and smart. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a touchdown-right?

Realizing they were short on funds, Newcastle decided to go the self-deprecating route and be open and forthcoming in their ads. “If We Made it” was Newcastle’s way of acknowledging their potential for an amazing commercial- hence the “if we made it” title.

“The whole concept and the meta wormhole that it went down was just too beautiful not to do,” says Quinn Kilbury, who (as Newcastle’s brand director at the time, oversaw the effort). He tells Adweek, “It just felt very clear—‘How could people not talk about this?’ As long as the creative was somewhat reasonable—because the idea is so different and unique and completely contrary to everything else that happens in the Super Bowl.”

Newcastle launched this campaign a few weeks prior to the Super Bowl airing, and it almost went viral immediately.

The campaign generated over 1 billion media impressions! That’s right, 1 billion- and according to Kilbury, the statistic puts him in the same playing field as the advertisers who ponied up millions of dollars for a spot during the actual game. “That’s what the big Super Bowl advertisers do,” says Kilbury. “If you hit a billion you’re happy—like at Pepsi, it means you did your job.”

In my opinion, this humbling and in-your-face approach was genius and provided the results Newcastle was looking for. Because Newcastle didn’t try to compete with competitors like Budweiser on advertising spend, they had to rely on the intellect and creativity to intrigue their audience in a completely different way. The bubbly celebrity appearance by Anna Kendrick didn’t seem to hurt either. Anna currently has a Twitter following of over 3 million and several blockbuster movies- she’s the perfect spokesperson for a beer brand. Check out this edgy girl-next-door breaking barriers by endorsing products, and doing it well.

If you haven’t seen Kendrick’s new Kate Spade ad, you’re missing out! Watch it here:

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