Super Bowl 2018: The best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

With ads accounting for 22% of its overall broadcast, Alex Clarke makes a play for the best Super Bowl 2018 video spots from B2B brands

With 2018’s Super Bowl offering up a true David versus Goliath encounter, as first-time winners Philadelphia Eagles laid low defending champions the New England Patriots, let’s draw a tenuous (yet actually quite pertinent) parallel between the Super Bowl finalists and the lucrative ads that often steal the headlines (from both B2C and B2B brands).

While they historically languish in B2C’s shadow when it comes to the blindingly expensive and celebrity-dominated videos that typically comprise Super Bowl ad breaks, last year’s broadcast saw a number of B2B brands steal the spotlight – most notably 84 Lumber’s politically divisive inclusion (it was actually rejected by Fox for being too political).

Did the Super Bowl LII see B2B brands reaching similarly lofty heights? Time to find out.

Super Bowl 2018: Best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

1. Squarespace

Usually caught head to head in a fervent battle with close rival Wix, website builder Squarespace employed Keanu Reeves to front its fifth consecutive Super Bowl ad.

In the spot, Reeves (or as we call him, the man who never ages) surfs a motorcycle in the middle of a desert while singing Adventures in Success by Will Powers (apparently he’s been running his own motorcycle company through Squarespace since 2015, hence the partnership).

In the battle of the website builders, we reckon Squarespace has won this year’s clash with Wix (more on that below).

Super Bowl 2018 Commercial | Make It With Keanu Reeves

Super Bowl 2018: Best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

2. WeatherTech

Following on from 84 Lumber’s controversial entry in 2017, this year saw automotive floor-mat company WeatherTech ruffle a few feathers with its ad featuring footage of a WeatherTech factory being constructed proudly on American soil, accompanied by the text “We built our new factory right here in America. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?”.

Some commentators took to social media accusing the Chicago-based firm of sending subliminal pro-Trump messages (the initial construction of the factory could be construed as a wall being erected) – but as 84 Lumber’s ad last year proved, generating political discussion isn’t always bad press, and the controversy generated from WeatherTech’s spot could well be misguided.

WeatherTech Super Bowl® Commercial: American Factory

Super Bowl 2018: Best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

Super Bowl 2018 facts and stats*

  • 49 minutes and 35 seconds: total ad time (accounting for 22% of overall broadcast)
  • $414 million: In-game ad revenue (estimated)
  • 22 returning companies from 2017 (attrition rate of 45%)
  • 4 companies appearing for the first time (lowest in past decade)
  • 163.8K social mentions: Tide’s ad starring David Harbour from Stranger Things most-mentioned (see bonus video).
Super Bowl 2018: Best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

3. E-Trade

Now, although this ad is aimed squarely at boosting its retirement account offering, E-Trade is a predominately B2B organization (investing and trading being its other two major arms).

Super Bowl ads often employ the elderly as a comic device (sometimes tastefully done, sometimes not), yet E-Trade strikes a nice balance here, showing some aged Americans still working hard at their day jobs.

An 80-something guy in his swimwear running in slow-motion down a beach isn’t very tasteful, I hear you say? It’s still better than the Baywatch movie remake, so we’re going to allow it.

E*TRADE Commercial — This Is Getting Old

Super Bowl 2018: Best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

4. Wix.com

What a difference a year makes. Last year, Wix’s action-packed ad spot showcased movie stars Gal Gadot and Jason Statham battling a posse of bad guys in a restaurant, complete with gunfire, explosions, and chandelier swinging.

This year, the website builder has elected for a more low key affair, employing YouTube comedy duo Rhett and Link (yeah, we hadn’t heard of them either) to sit in front of a computer screen and give viewers a product demonstration.

It’s not quite as compelling as Statham and Gadot drop-kicking baddies, and certainly not on the same level as Neo from The Matrix standing on a motorcycle. Apparently, this ad was the result of NBC offering Wix a last-minute deal to appear on the Super Bowl broadcast. Our advice for next time? Maybe don’t bother.

Wix.com Official 2018 Big Game Ad with Rhett & Link

Super Bowl 2018: Best (and worst) video ads from B2B brands

BONUS VIDEO (WARNING – HERE BE B2C CONTENT)

Who said we can't still learn from B2C brands? As evidenced in the stats box above, laundry detergent Tide's ad (starring Stranger Things' David Harbour) ran away with the prize for most-discussed TV spot on social media. The fact pretty much the entire video could be applied to any product (just replace Harbour's constant whispering of 'Tide' with your own brand name) goes to show B2B can easily replicate B2C levels of creativity without compromising its message.

Tide | Super Bowl LII 2018 Commercial | It's a Tide Ad

*Statistics from Kantar Media and Talkwalker