The Super Bowl usually draws attention for creative TV ads, but this year a couple of gems emerged earlier during the college bowl season – one by Samuel Adams, the other from Taco Bell.
Boston beer maker Samuel Adams served up a perfect example of a visual explanation in an ad, while Taco Bell used 60 seconds to tell a story about scholarships for young dreamers and innovators.
The Samuel Adams ad answers the question, "Why seasonal beers?" by explaining the characteristics of spring, summer and fall brews, then finishing by featuring its winter lager. The explanations were visual, tasteful and informative.
The ad informed without selling. The brewer's commitment to diverse beers and styles was underscored, but unstated. Like a good beer, the ad was satisfying even as it subtly reminded you of the Samuel Adams brand value.
This isn't an aberration for Samuel Adams, which routinely offers up ads that respect viewer intelligence. Its messages are aimed at more discerning beer drinkers, or at least people who want more than a six-pack to guzzle at a frat party.
The Taco Bell ad was more surprising, since the fast food giant's normal fare appeals to a lower common denominator. Instead of extolling the "fourth meal" or extreme tacos, in this ad Taco Bell says it's time for young people to receive scholarships for more than academics or athletics.
The Taco Bell Foundation calls the Live Mas Scholarship a "passion-based" scholarship for innovators and dreamers. With awards ranging from $2,500 to $25,000, a total of $1 million will be given to 220 students in 2016 to attend accredited colleges and vocational schools.
The ad shows young adults engaged in a variety of innovative activities. "The Live Más Scholarship is not based on your grades or how well you play sports. No essays, no test scores, no right or wrong answers," Taco Bell says. "We’re looking for the next generation of innovators, creators and dreamers – whose post-high school education we will help fund. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the next generation.
We can look forward in a few days to Super Bowl ad blitzes, which hopefully will match or exceed these two ads.