Nissan displayed Nissan Z’s “transformative character” by portraying the mild-mannered Eugene Levy as an action hero, featuring the lead, supporting roles and casts in an active and non-stereotypical way. This ad was very enjoyable, scoring in the top 5 percentile and appealing across demographics, also scoring moderately well (65%) on showing a progressive view of society and a positive impact on those under-represented. This scored better than all other ads on the Diversity Index.
Viewers were pleasantly surprised at seeing the car, and celebrities, enjoyed Eugene Levy and the car chase of thrill and humour, leading to it scoring in the 84 percentile for impact. The ad was spontaneously considered fun, exciting, and innovative and was also spontaneously considered diverse and inclusive by Black Americans and Asians, given the active and positive portrayal by a diverse cast. That said, the ad could not be related to by viewers and left people wanting to see the car and its features more.
Super Bowl ads offer a captive audience interested in entertaining ads, but brands must make sure their campaigns ensure equitable representation. Not promoting DEI in Super Bowl can impact a brand’s ROI, as most consumers also expect them to be inclusive and diverse –especially people of colour, women and the younger generation. While we are seeing greater racial representation but other groups, including LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities, are still underrepresented, along with women in lead roles. Kantar data shows that ads that are both multi-racial and/or gender diverse are more enjoyable than just single-gender non-diverse ads.
DEI is a permanent fixture and a big theme in the Big Game, but representation alone isn't enough. To maximise ROI, diverse Super Bowl ads need to be culturally relevant, sensitive and relatable to diverse audiences. Showing under-represented people in an active, progressive and non-stereotypical manner increases Short-Term Sales and Long-Term Brand Equity exponentially and ensures people of colour view the ad as diverse or inclusive spontaneously. Diverse celebrity ads can be impactful but don’t forget the power of real people, their stories and the basic human truth.
The ad must also contain themes that cut across demographics. Emotionally engaging stories have the power to resonate across demography. Humour works as it has over the years, but it may appeal to certain groups more than others. Be clear about your target audience. How consumers are qualifying "entertainment" is expanding. Entertainment doesn't just include humour and surprise, it includes more emotional themes like empathy, compassion and togetherness that have the power to cut across all. Adventure & Thrill also appear as universally appealing themes, and sustainability as a creative theme has officially shown up at the Super Bowl, and we can expect this to continue.
Make sure that the brand is well integrated into the story and that it doesn’t get lost in entertainment. Be cautious in showing aggression, even in a funny way, especially at the expense of older people or people with disabilities. It may not appeal to all groups. Being over-dramatic in the ad’s execution certainly gets noticed, but crossing the line could lead to dissonance. Make sure you research the execution. Be conscious about consumer perceptions around sensitive topics like sustainability, animal rights, the role of AI and robots and ensure your ads live up to the values of your target audience.