Episode #76: The Thrilling Conclusion to Super Bowl Ad Week

We wrap up Super Bowl ad week with a few more of my favorites, including an inspiring Toyota ad, and a celebrity-filled, informative Paramount+ series. And, as an end-of-the-week bonus, we check out the GM Norway ad along with Norway’s clever response. It’s a little taste of the additional engagement that’s been largely missing in this year’s ads.

See all Copernican Shift podcasts
The Copernican Shift on Apple Podcasts


It’s the CXM Experience. And as always, I’m your host Grad Conn, CXO, chief experience officer at Sprinklr. We are continuing to talk about Super Bowl ads. Yep. That’s kind of our week, Super Bowl.

I’ve talked a little bit about how it feels as a naturalized American to be part of the Super Bowl. It’s such a great part of what it means to be America. I will say, I do find myself often in situations where I’m going on and waxing eloquently about the amazingness of America. and Americans look at me like, what? And I think part of what makes the country great is this constant restlessness. This constant like, are we slipping? We’ve got to make a great again. It’s not as good as it used to be. It’s this continual desire to be better all the time. And there’s some really good examples of this, in this year’s Super Bowl advertising.

So, I’m gonna start with a really unusually fascinating and unusually awesome ad from, of all people, General Motors. And I gotta say that entire sentence structure is not something I ever thought would ever come out of my mouth, in my lifetime. But General Motors managed to put together, I think, one of the best, most entertaining, and funniest ads of the Super Bowl. And interestingly, it’s had a life of its own beyond the Super Bowl. And we’ll talk about that one second.

If you hadn’t had a chance to see it, Will Ferrell, at home. Bearded and very shaggy looking. He somehow finds out… he’s in his garage with what looks a little bit like, he’s got the maps with the lines and the strings on them. Kind of like how people are when they’re serial killers. So anyway, he’s in his garage, and he finds out that Norway produces more electric cars per capita than the United States, and all hell breaks loose in this GM ad. In fact, the reality of it is that for the first time, Norway is the first to sell more electric cars in a year than gas powered cars, which is kind of amazing. Very cool.

And so anyway, Will Ferrell finds this out, that America is not number one. And he’s like, I’m gonna go to Norway and find out more. And he enlists the help of a couple other people and off they go to Norway. You’ve got to watch it. It’s super amusing, super fun. And Will Ferrell is in rare, excellent form. I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan. Apparently, he’s a little polarizing, but I’ve loved everything he’s ever done. And I find him extremely watchable.

What’s super interesting about this ad, what makes it really engaging, is that there has been a response from Norway. And that’s interesting, because I have been somewhat critical of the Super Bowl ads for not being engaged enough on the second screen and feeling like they’re a little hollow. They’re just entertainment pieces, but not something that was generating a tremendous amount of social conversation beyond what we’re doing right now, which is just to talk about them in general. But, in fact, a number of different companies in Norway have responded to the Will Ferrell GM ad, including a two-minute really great video by a university in Norway. And basically, the university Provost goes through a litany of other things that are super awesome about Norway, that they hope that Will Ferrell doesn’t also find out about.

And this a very funny Norwegian response, which is, we’re an amazingly awesome country. And you Americans are a bunch of garbage. I think this is for me a little bit of the difference between the two countries, which is America is always restless. I mean, per capita Norway may exceed America on electric vehicles, but there’s like four people who live in Norway. So, in total, America vastly overwhelms the rest of the world in terms of the number of electric vehicles sold. It’s kind of funny because America has got this constant restlessness. We’ve got to be number one, we’ve got to be bigger, we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to be stronger. We’ve got to be faster. Whereas Norway and some of the European countries have this sense of smug self satisfaction. And I think that’s kind of an interesting contrast between the psychologies of the countries.

And I will note that Norway has the highest suicide rate of any country in the world. So, take that for whatever it’s worth in terms of how awesome the country of Norway is. So that is the Will Ferrell GM ad, and I hope my listeners in Norway aren’t overly offended, but potentially they are. And good news. I have no listeners in Norway.

So, let’s go on to the next ad. And I want to talk a little bit about something I found quite inspiring. I mean, this ad, when I saw it, sort of made me… I think made me cry. And it was an ad that appealed to people on a different level. And it’s interestingly because… it was from Toyota. And I would say that I don’t know if I remembered the ad as a Toyota ad. And I don’t want to be super critical. But I’m gonna put it out there that this is a fantastic piece of cinema, a fantastic piece of communication, potentially not a fantastic piece of advertising. Although… we’re talking about it right now. And we’re talking about Toyota. So, you know, it is hard to tell sometimes.

But Jessica Long is a swimmer on the US swim team. She was born with a birth condition that required that her two legs be amputated below the knee at a certain age. Very compelling, obviously, really, really tough story. But an inspiring story because she’s become this world-class swimmer. What’s even more inspiring is that she was adopted. And so, the way the commercial starts is that there is a call to her about-to-be adoptive parents, and they are told that she’s got this condition. And they obviously have the option of backing out. And they say, Hey, you know, we’re gonna love this person and bring her to a great life. And then they support her and help her achieve something that few others can.

And it’s just such an inspiring story. And as a parent, you give so much to your children, you give so much of yourself to your children, and you sacrifice so much for your kids, that you always love seeing other people doing that as well. And it’s just a really, really, really well produced, beautiful ad that I also think does a very nice job of normalizing the amputations and just making it feel humans. And I love that kind of stuff. So great job by Toyota. I don’t know if it’s a great ad. But I’m really, really, really glad that you did that ad. And I got a lot of emotional satisfaction out of it. And thanks.

Now let’s move on to the last part of our series, which is the Paramount+ campaign. So, a little bit of background just so you know what’s going on. CBS All Access, which is an app that was launched about two years ago. It was basically launched coincident with the launch of Star Trek Discovery, the new Star Trek series. Which again, I love Star Trek Discovery. Just absolutely love it. And it is deeply and much derided by many others in the community. So, I don’t know. I’m not sure when I love something if it means it’s not going to be liked. But I do love things that are popular. So, I don’t know what the story is. But it is a fantastic series.

And so, CBS All Access is basically the app that gives you access to all the CBS shows. And starting March 4th, CBS, which is owned by Paramount, is going to be rebranded from CBS All Access to Paramount+. Somewhat echoing or mimicking the Disney+ launch which was, as we know, extremely successful. And it will include BET, it’ll include CBS, it’ll include all the Paramount libraries, Nickelodeon’s part of it. So, it’ll be a tremendous amount of stuff. And what they did is they put together a pretty clever campaign.

The Paramount logo as you know, is the mountain. And if you’ve ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, the original Indiana Jones movie, it’s one of my favorite openings, because they start with the Paramount logo. It’s a Paramount movie. And then the Paramount logo fades out to the shape of a mountain in South America where Indiana Jones is moving towards to find an idol in one of the graves. If you have not seeing the movie in a long time, check out that opening again. It’s incredibly subtle, but a beautiful move by Steven Spielberg.

Anyway, so Paramount+ is launching. And what they did is they did a really clever job over a number of different ads in the Super Bowl, having different characters from different series, like Snooki. And they had Beavis and Butthead. And they had all sorts of different people. They had the commander from Discovery, they had Picard, Jean-Luc Picard was great. It was awesome. And they start climbing Mount Paramount.

And when they get to the top, they all have drinks and do a little bit of dance with Jean-Luc. So, check that out. I think they did a nice job of landing Paramount Plus+. It was an advantage in that it was CBS that was carrying the game. I actually watched the game on CBS All Access. So I watched it on an app on Apple TV over an internet connection. So I’m a cable cutter. And I’m super clear. March 4th. I get it, it’s gonna change. And I know what’s on there.

I’m actually relating all this stuff to you right now, without reading anything. This is just the impression that commercial made on me that I’m giving you right now. So that’s not bad. Beavis and Butthead tells me Comedy Central is part of a too. See how they’ve done a nice connection there. And so, check it out. Paramount+. Nice job, everybody.

I’m going to wrap for today. I’ve got some other stuff I want to talk about. So, I think this is going to be the end of our Super Bowl commercial festival. I’ve really enjoyed it. But it is kind of weird that as the week wears on, and the Super Bowl fades, it becomes almost less and less relevant, which would tell me that, again, that second screen experience would have been really good to have because the tail on this thing is kind of short.

 Anyway, that’s it for today. For the CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, and I’ll see you next time.