With 61 ads being examined from the 2015 Super Bowl, numerous "best of" lists are popping up. Many of the lists place Budweiser's "Lost Dog" at the top, including USA Today, and even YouTube. There were highly-rated promos from Coca-Cola, Doritos, McDonald's, and more.
One company who did not make the top lists is Weight Watchers, with their "All You Can Eat" ad. It only managed to secure spot number 41 of 61 on USA Today's list, with a score of 5.02 out of 10. Based on social reviews, there appears to be no middle ground, either.
But, we think the content marketing inside this powerful ad is a winner. Let's take a look at the ad and how it came to be.
The Backstory of the Weight Watchers Ad
Ansel Wallenfang of Portland-based Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency usually works on ads for Old Spice, according to a PostCrescent.com report. However, when Weight Watchers contacted his agency and said that they wanted to do something revolutionary, he was excited to hop aboard. It took six months to complete the piece from start to finish.
Did You Know? It's Narrated by Breaking Bad Star Aaron Paul
Yes, the piece of genius is narrated by Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul. Weight Watcher's recently changed the way they advertise, ditching celebrity stories in exchange for stories of real people. Their light-hearted "My Butt" video became an instant hit on YouTube, securing over two-million views very quickly.
According to AdAge, Weight Watchers sent out 200 Super Bowl party kits to women across the country. At this time, suspicion built that their Super Bowl ad would follow suit with their other recent endeavors, but Weight Watchers kept mum until the ad played on game day.
What Happens In The Ad
Genius, powerful content marketing. Instead of following suit with a comical or light-hearted clip, they hit people head-on with a narrative that sounded more like an anti-drug message. With Aaron Paul at the helm, viewers got a dose of the cold, hard truth. He spoke much like a drug dealer, offering up excuses for people to eat poorly while visions of food shows, warehouse stores, unhealthy food, and grocery store conveyor belts flashed upon the screen.
What Happened With the Viewer Response?
Some people were outraged by the piece, considering it to be in poor form for Weight Watcher's to air the ad on one of the biggest snacking days of the year. Others, such as Influential Marketing Group (IMG), applaud the concept and believe the timing was spot-on. In an interview with AdAge, senior VP-marketing for Weight Watchers, Maurice Herrera, said the timing was intentional, as many people are starting to break their New Year's resolutions. She also noted that the company wanted to take a more serious tone in an effort to get people to realize how society can impact poor eating habits. The company hopes that the unconventional ad will inspire open dialogue among viewers, considering that the topic is generally avoided to avoid confrontation. By putting the information out there the way they did, they not only stirred reactions, but generated a great deal of awareness for the issue. Despite the controversy, it looks like weight Watchers will weather the storm, as they intentionally left the ad largely unbranded. Their company name and slogan only appears for a brief moment at the end of the clip, and many people are getting the message, but not necessarily who it came from. One blogger mockingly wrote that they wouldn't be doing business with "whoever that was an ad for."
Yay or Nay? How to Duplicate the Response
Creating a controversial ad campaign that doesn't backfire is incredibly difficult to do. While there were several ads designed to motivate and empower, like Always' "Like a Girl" and Coca-Cola's "Make It Happy" campaign, none were as shocking as "All You Can Eat."
If you decide to employ the same technique for your own blog or advertisements, tread carefully.
- Don't single out any protected class, such as by race or religion.
- Do back up whatever you say with verifiable facts and statistics.
- Don't cash in on a tragic or traumatic event, like a natural disaster or an act of terrorism.
- Do provide information that's both relevant and timely for your audience.
Remember: The Results Are Permanent
The 2015 Weight Watcher's Super Bowl ad is still causing quite a stir on social media and in blogs around the world. So, bear in mind that whatever you post will spread like wildfire if it's controversial. If done well, it can enhance your reputation and brand. If done poorly, it can sink your entire company. Weight Watchers may have irritated some people with their ad, but the company stands by their piece, and the raw honesty it contains. Although it might make some people uncomfortable, that's exactly what they set out to do and, for that, they deserve kudos.