Following a week in which Reddit was center stage in one of the biggest stories in the country — the Gamestop thing — the San Francisco company decided to buy five seconds of ad time to talk about that, in text.
The resulting five-second ad, which you'd only have time to read if you hit the pause button, ended up stirring up enough interest that it ranked second behind this year's Cheeto's ad for the most searched on Google. It also garnered an "A" rating from the annual Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review.
It was just some straightforward text but, like many Super Bowl ads, it aimed to strike an inspirational chord. "One thing we learned from our communities last week is that underdogs can accomplish just about anything when they come together around a common idea," the ad reads.
Also, it mentions the r/SuperbOwl subreddit community, which is actually for owl enthusiasts, but a lot of people probably stumbled on it by accident.
Reddit’s chief marketing officer, Roxy Young, tells the New York Times, "I felt like, with all the conversation around Reddit, we had really earned the right to be in that Super Bowl moment, where there are millions of people tuned into a singular event. I just didn’t think that we could come together with 30 seconds of beautifully produced material — but I was confident that we could do something in five seconds."
Ellie Bamford, from the New York-based marketing agency R/GA that created the ad, tells the Times, "Squeezing an entire page of text into one of the shortest ads in Super Bowl history might seem weird, but it was certainly weird in the right way."
Meanwhile, two other SF-based companies who've done big pandemic business, Uber Eats and DoorDash, spent a lot more on their Super Bowl moments, obviously hoping to outshine one another.
The DoorDash ad is fun enough, featuring Oakland native Daveed Diggs singing along with some Sesame Street muppets to the tune of "These Are the People In Your Neighborhood" — an ad meant both to encourage shopping local and to use DoorDash, even though we all know that delivery apps hurt small businesses almost as much as they help, squeezing already thin profit margins with their fees. DoorDash laid out big bucks for the 60-second spot (roughly $11 million plus production costs), but they didn't make the top 5 in Google searches, and the Kellogg School gives them a "C."
"Overall, this year’s Super Bowl featured safe ads with light humor," says Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University who co-authors the Super Bowl ad review. The DoorDash ad seems to fall in that category.
For their somewhat odder and more memorable "Wayne's World" riff featuring Cardi B, Uber Eats scored a "B" from the Kellogg School. Like DoorDash, they went with an "Eat Local" theme — but does that include ghost kitchens?