Super Bowl XLVIII Commercials—Post-Game Analysis: Unlocking the Real Power of Cause

Feb 10, 2014 10:15 AM ET

Prove Your Purpose

The biggest story in marketing this week was, of course, the advertising from Super Bowl XLVIII. Companies lined up to spend as much as $4 million per 30-second spot to reach more than 110 million viewers. What was most noteworthy about this year's crop of commercials? The remarkably high degree to which marketers relied on cause and social issues to tell their stories—revealing just how far corporate social responsibility has come as a core brand and business strategy.

But ubiquity does not necessarily equal quality. Although most of the cause-focused ads were heartfelt and compelling, with brands wrapping themselves beautifully in emotions triggered by a wide range of issues, the cause-focused commercials generally left something significant on the table. Most were high-minded, feel-good expressions of brand values and beliefs that didn't really go anywhere—versus focused commitments to meaningfully address important issues, supported by clear calls to action.

Let me explain.

Coke's #AmericatheBeautiful spot courageously celebrated the diversity of the New America with the national anthem in multiple languages. Cheerios' "Gracie" ad matter-of-factly featured an interracial family, despite conservative blow-back to a similar 2013 spot. Intuit's #TeamSmallBiz commercial featuring GoldieBlox gave a national platform to a start-up dedicated to empowering girls through play. Duracell's ad, "Trust the Power Within," featuring the Seahawks' Derrick Coleman's triumph over a hearing disability carried a message of inspiration. And the list goes on and on…

To read more on Cone's Prove Your Purpose blog, please click here.