Super Bowl storytelling: the fumbles and touchdowns (winners / losers)

February 13, 2023

Ads have come a long way over the past few years, moving away from sales focused “buy buy buy” messaging to focus more on storytelling.  It’s been a slow but significant shift as companies have started to focus less on a particular product and more on the brand and what it stands for. 

When it’s done well, the business impact is huge. Converting someone from casual product purchaser to long-term brand loyalist can create a sustainable sales pipeline with readymade brand advocates just waiting to sing your praises to friends and family. 

But not all of this year’s Super Bowl commercials landed their story. 

The Oscars of the Ad World

When it comes to advertising, there’s no bigger spot in the calendar than the Super Bowl. The game itself has almost become a supporting act for the commercials and half-time show. 

Drawing in at least 100 million viewers almost every year, over 40% of people tuning in say they’re watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. 

It’s why companies pay an average of $7 million per 30-second spot – and that’s just for airtime alone, not production costs. 

Big names over big stories 

From A-list actors and chart-topping singers to sports stars, there was no shortage of famous faces in the 2023 Super Bowl commercials

For many of the ads, it felt like a competition to include as many celebrities as possible as a way to grab attention and make it onto one of the many coveted “Best Super Bowl Ad Ever” lists. 

Uber One fell into this trap. Their commercial featured everyone from Montell Jordan and Kelis to Donna Lewis and Ylvis trying – and failing – to resuscitate “What does the Fox Say?”. The result was a disjointed collection of cameos tenuously tied together with a simplistic “one song for Uber One” tagline. 

Doritos took a similar approach, packing together the unlikely combination of Jack Harlow, Missy Elliot and Elton John in a triangle-themed attempt to appeal to everyone that was just a bit… cheesy.  

By focusing on big names rather than a story, these ads feel like a dated step back to those “buy buy buy” commercials – and not in a fun nostalgic way. 

They felt chaotic. Worse still, they were forgettable. 

Selling the story

Some companies managed to fight the temptation to land as many big names as the budget allowed, focusing on creating a story instead. 

Dunkin’ Donuts nailed it. Teaming up with of-the-moment newlyweds Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, it was a masterclass in the power of the unexpected. 

Going to a Dunkin’ drive thru and being served by Ben Affleck? Unexpected. Superstars doing everyday things? Unexpected. JLo eating a donut? Unexpected. 

Wrapped up with the “Get me a glazed” tagline, it’s immediately memorable because of the story it’s told and what that story says about the brand – delicious enough for superstars, but still part of your everyday life. 

Gamification of the game 

Another show-stealing commercial was Molson Coors. With Budweiser ending their 33-year exclusivity deal with the NFL, there was a major opportunity for other alcohol brands.

The pressure was on for booze brands who decided to invest. For their first Super Bowl commercial since the 1980s, Molson Coors perfectly matched their ad to the occasion using gamification and betting through their partnership with DraftKings

Viewers could win a share of $500k through a free-to-play pool on DraftKings where they had to predict the answers to 12 questions, including which Molson Coors beer would be the grand finale of the ad.

With wagers placed on everything from the length of the national anthem to the color of the Gatorade, this commercial was a masterclass in matching an ad to its context and the power of interactivity. 

Why stories matter 

The 2023 Super Bowl ads are an important reminder of the importance and power of storytelling – especially when time is tight. It’s not just that stories entertain, our brains are wired to listen to and react in a more emotional and meaningful way to a story. 

Research by neuroscientists has shown that brain activity increases five fold when we hear a story. More activity means more connections are formed in the brain, helping us remember things better when they’re presented as a story. 

Not only that, but stories also release a burst of Oxytoxin – the feel-good or love hormone that’s mostly associated with bonding. Recall and a sense of connection – the holy grail for advertisers, especially those spending the big bucks to reach millions of Super Bowl viewers. 

It is powerful stuff. Brands that can tell a story shift from demanding attention to earning it, creating a memorable link that’s more likely to last beyond the next commercial break. 

Telling your story 

From pizza to Fintech, the Bodhi & Co. team work with companies around the world to help them define their story and tell it in a way that delivers commercial impact.  Get in touch to tell us more about your brand challenges and find out more about how we could help you tell your story.

Author Headshot

Roanna Lynch

A creative copywriter who really gets the context and company behind the campaign, Roanna helps brands express themselves in a way that’s memorable to the audiences that matter most.

Make Mine a Negroni Sbagliato

December 19, 2022

Move over mulled wine, prosecco – you’ve been overshadowed: there’s only one must-have drink this festive season, the Negroni Sbagliato. And you’ve got TikTok to thank/blame for the morning-after headache from this dangerously drinkable cocktail. 

Head into a bar this winter and you’re likely to find a hastily added new must-have drink on their cocktail menu: a Negroni Sbagliato

Rumored to be a happy accident created by a bartender who might just have had one too many, the now infamous drink combines gin, sweet vermouth, campari and prosecco to make Aperol Spritz’s mildly bitter cousin. 

How long did it take for this accidental creation of yesteryear to become the new must-have drink? About 8 seconds. 

Trends driven by word of mouth have always been a part of consumer marketing. Social endorsement is a powerful force, delivering five times more sales than paid and converting into $6 trillion in annual global sales

Social media king-sized that process, allowing trends to take off and reach unprecedented numbers of people in record time. But with its bite-sized, unpolished clips that often hero the comically mundane, TikTok has accelerated the speed and power of trends. 

The Negroni Sbagliato trend started with an interview between House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy And Olivia Cooke on the HBO TikTok channel. In answer to a pretty run-of-the-mill question about their go-to drink, D’Arcy replied “A Negroni… sbagliato… with prosecco in it”. 

The 8-second clip has now racked up over 2.2 million views, 12,000 comments and more than 80,000 spin-off videos. It went viral so rapidly that the HBO Max TikTok account has now changed their caption to “Negronis anyone?”. 

What makes TikTok so interesting and potentially valuable for brands is that going viral on the platform does translate into attention and success in the real world. The viral video led to a huge uptick in Google searches for “Negroni Sbagliato”, with campari reporting a sales increase of almost 20% and one alcohol delivery service reported a 40% increase in orders of both prosecco and Campari in the weekend following the video. 

Unpicking what makes something go viral is notoriously difficult. If there were a magic formula, brands around the world would be paying top dollar to ensure instant success. 

There are a few lessons that all brands can take away from this runaway viral success.  

The Unexpected 

Tightly controlled and over rehearsed, the 1:1 interview format has lost its shine over the past few years. With pre-approved questions carefully screened by cautious PR teams, they rarely deliver the Big Bang they promise. The question in the HBO interview followed this generic pattern, but Emma D’Arcy’s answer felt off-the cuff, unrehearsed and genuinely enthusiastic – it was refreshingly unexpected. 


It was also a drink that few of us had heard of before. In a world where keeping up with the Jones’s spans the globe not just your neighborhood, being out of the loop isn’t an option. It’s also unnecessary – anyone can be an instant expert with Google, and that’s exactly where everyone rushed to fill this important cocktail knowledge gap. 


The knowing, “guilty pleasure” smile that D’Arcy gives as they lean in and shares their love for this formerly niche cocktail comes across with real, cheeky, relatable authenticity. It’s what we always want from celebs who seem so far away on Planet Fame – a moment of candid humanity, feeling for just a moment that we know that person behind the character on screen, picturing what it would be like to walk up to the bar and order a round for the group. Real authenticity creates a magnetic charisma that’s impossible to scroll past. 

Sound byte-able 

Both D’Arcy’s answer and Cooke’s now also viral “ooo stunning” response have taken on a life of their own. The ability to duet with other creators, easily overlay sounds, and quickly see what’s trending and use it in your own content is part of TikTok’s success. Great content gets a second, third, fourth life as sound bytes that apply to a wide range of scenarios and increase the new and original clip’s reach exponentially. It’s how this quick clip has mushroomed into almost 100,000 spin-offs, widening its audience and impact each time.  

Sex appeal 

A niche bitter cocktail has rarely sounded so sexy. D’Arcy’s husky voice and conspiratorial “I won’t tell if you won’t” tone left TikTok collectively hot under the collar. Played over and over again, there was a general consensus that aside from House of Dragons, D’Arcy should really consider a career in distinctly non-family friendly audiobooks. Identifying as non-binary, there’s a sexiness to the video that feels contemporary and empowering. Emma D’Arcy might have just been sharing her drinks of choice, but they were also making sexy modern. 

The CMO of Italian Campari Group, Julka Villa, sums it up perfectly: “Never was a person more straightforward, clear, and inviting. That is the power of virality”.

Figuring out how to find your content niche on social media or getting to grips with newer platforms like TikTok can be daunting and time consuming for growing businesses with small teams. 

From femtech to craft pizza, we help brands define their voice and tell their story in a way that’s irresistible to their customers – existing and future. 

Get in touch with the team to find out more about how Bodhi & Co can help your company stand out on social before we all head out for a Negroni Sbagliato or two over the festive season. 

Author Headshot

Roanna Lynch

A creative copywriter who really gets the context and company behind the campaign, Roanna helps brands express themselves in a way that’s memorable to the audiences that matter most.

The Brand Lesson Behind the World Cup

November 16, 2022

We plan what a campaign will be about. We look at who the audience will be, as well as when and where they’ll see it. But the 2022 World Cup in Qatar shows that’s not enough anymore – there’s a vital piece of the puzzle missing. 

On November 20th, soccer’s biggest tournament will kick off in Qatar. The World Cup may have been an institution of the sports world for 92 years, but this year’s tournament has been making headlines and raising eyebrows before the first whistle’s even been blown. 

As the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup, the Gulf State has been determined to make their debut the biggest and the best. At an estimated cost of $200 billion with brand new stadiums and infrastructure, it’s set to be the most expensive World Cup ever. 

But the monetary cost of the new facilities, the state-of-the-art driverless metro system, and the slick new hotels aren’t what’s making the news — it’s the human cost. 

Since it was announced in 2010 that Qatar would play host, concerns have been voiced about the country’s human rights record. The global spotlight has focused on a lack of women’s rights, with women still dependent on a male guardian, combined with the deaths of as many as 7000 migrant workers during the World Cup’s major construction projects. 

Boycotting and anti-campaigns

Despite strong statements and even debates about boycotting the event by high-profile teams (Germany, Belgium, Norway), all qualifying teams are planning to attend. 

Though participating teams might be ready to flex their morals, Qatar has found that soccer fans are less forgiving. With Trafalgar Square usually hosting a roaring crowd of 7000 and giant screens showing the action, this year London will be boycotting the Qatar World Cup by canceling its traditional “fan zones”. Seven French cities, including Paris, are also boycotting the event, as well as Strasbourg. 

And of course it would be remiss not to mention the recent BrewDog marketing campaign. Anti-World Cup sponsors, lots of noise about morals and yet their beer is stocked in hotels situated around the World Cup. Pot, kettle black. Enough about that, as they have already had too much airtime with their latest stunt. But there is a huge disconnect. 

It’s the perfect example of underestimating your customer: Qatar and FIFA thought that if they had all the right infrastructure in place and they said all the right things, then their customers would ignore the rest. That’s not how it works anymore. Increasingly, people are taking a 360 view of brands – not just what they sell and what they say, but what they stand for. They’re looking for whether a brand’s actions really match their words. 

Introducing the PESTLE framework.

In the era of web 3.0 and social media, there’s an accessibility and transparency that some organizations continue to underestimate. You can’t brush things under the carpet anymore; you have to be authentically accountable. There’s a lesson for all brands here: a great campaign alone isn’t enough, you need to evaluate, plan for, and adapt to the context in which your customers will see that campaign. 

There’s a great framework for thinking through the external factors that can influence organizations and campaigns: PESTLE. It helps you to evaluate the Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental circumstances. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also has an example of what a completed retail industry PESTLE might look like. By regularly looking at and analyzing the environment in which your business operates, you can make sure that the campaigns you’re running perfectly echo what your audience is experiencing and feeling in that moment. 

Tapping into how people are feeling is the difference between an average campaign and a memorable one. Fast Company reports that campaigns solely based on emotional content performed around twice as well as those with only rational content. Rather than seeing the context of a campaign as yet another thing to think about, it can be the perfect opportunity to create a campaign that really resonates, delivering that scale and awareness that makes brands top of mind for all the right reasons. 

If you need any help with campaign planning or implementing a PESTLE framework – we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at Bodhi & Co. 

Author Headshot

Roanna Lynch

A creative copywriter who really gets the context and company behind the campaign, Roanna helps brands express themselves in a way that’s memorable to the audiences that matter most.

Who Run the World? Femtech.

October 26, 2022

Aunt flow, shark week, that time of the month – there’s always been a certain shyness around talking about women’s health and related products. It’s a cultural taboo that marketing teams have echoed. For decades, the norm has been to talk around the topic, referring to “feminine hygiene” with discreet blue liquid used in sanitary pad adverts. 

The result is an industry where products and the way we advertise them has barely changed in decades. In fact, it wasn’t until 2017 when the first advert showing red blood on a sanitary pad was released by British brand Bodyform

But things are changing as the femtech sector begins to boom with new products and the inspiring female founders behind them. These brands aren’t just revolutionizing women’s products, they’re also fundamentally changing the conversation around women’s health. 


The “New Crypto”

It isn’t just a one-company success story: it’s a market with huge potential. Already valued at $51 billion USD in 2021, the global femtech market is set to double in size by 2030. 

Investors are starting to take notice. In May 2022, Pulsenmore, who make at-home ultrasound devices allowing women with a history of recurrent miscarriage to closely monitor their own pregnancy, raised $50 million USD in one funding round. Kindbody, the “Soulcycle of Fertility” secured $154.7 million and B2B fertility benefits company Carrot Fertility secured $114.2 million Series C funding. 

With public interest growing and investors responding, it’s no surprise that formidable women’s health attorney Delphine O’Rourke announced that “women’s health is the new Crypto”. 


Market Trends to Watch 

So who’s set to be the next Pulsenmore? Bodhi & Co. have been lucky enough to work with some of the rising stars in the femtech industry. Based on our insight, learnings, and experience, here are the three main areas to watch: 


  • Period Tech: 

Menstruation products were well overdue a tech makeover: tampons, for example, have been largely unchanged in design since the 1930s. With 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons being sent to landfill each year, there’s an important focus on reducing “period pollution”. 

From Planera’s pads that dissolve when flushed down the toilet to Emm’s soon-to-be-released smart period care with monitoring capabilities (check out their website for the chance to be one of their lucky beta testers!), the new wave of femtech products are changing what women can expect from period products. 

It’s also about improving the experience of having a period. In 2019, Daye launched the first CBD-infused tampon to help relieve pain while absorbing blood. 


  • Underwear

Traditional ads for women’s underwear are more focused on… the visual rather than the physical experience of actually wearing the products. 

Enter female-founded underwear brands like Knix ready to take on a market with “too much frill and not enough function”, according to founder Joanna Griffiths. Going from market newbie to two million customers with one of the largest ever sales of a DTC company by a female founder, Knix has proven that there’s appetite for a different approach to women’s underwear. 

It’s paved the way for Draper-award-winning new market entrants like Pantee who focus on comfort and sustainability, creating their underwear from deadstock fabrics.


  • Sex-related Products and Tech

If there’s one topic that’s almost as taboo as women’s health, it’s sex; advertising condoms wasn’t even legal in the US until 1977. 

From Osé’s Robotics-Innovation-Award-winning toys to Hanx’s gynaecologist-designed vegan condoms that “champion unapologetic sexual and intimate health for everyone”,  a whole host of female entrepreneurs have set out to make changes in this traditionally male-centric market. 

Solving a range of sexual wellness challenges and limitations, sex tech products tend to share the common goal of improving accessibility and frankness around the full range of human sexual experience and pleasure. 


The Lesson for All Brands

Whatever sector you’re in, there are a few things we’ve learnt from working with femtech companies that apply to all brands. 

Whether it’s smart, less painful periods, comfortable underwear, or sex toys with biofeedback, these products all have one thing in common: their focused on user experience. 

From product design to the communications and marketing that support it, Femtech is a reminder to all companies to prioritise putting your audience first and focusing not just on how a product looks, but how it works and feels. 

It’s a reminder that consumers don’t want to be sold to – they’ve had enough of the spin, they want to understand the products they’re buying. Brands that are thriving recognise that their audience are ready for benefit-focused communications that put the audience at the heart of the brand. 

Femtech is just getting started, ushering in an era of plain talking marketing that means no topic is off limits – bring it on! 

Whether you’re a Femtech brand looking to work with a marketing partner that knows the industry or a brand looking to re-focus on audience experience, get in touch with the team at Bodhi & Co for a chat about how we can help you on your journey to becoming the next crypto.

Author Headshot

Roanna Lynch

A creative copywriter who really gets the context and company behind the campaign, Roanna helps brands express themselves in a way that’s memorable to the audiences that matter most.

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