The true essence of the Super Bowl is competition. Brute strength of rival teams, best victory dance, fighting and blasphemy between fans. And when the whistle blows, the game pauses for a few minutes for a quick and ferocious commercial battle. Which 30-second ad captured the most attention? The greatest reaction on Twitter? Wendy’s blatant McDonald’s bash? Feisty.

Amid all this fierce competition, a new kind of marketing shone brightly. A few brands stood out as they put their social responsibility at the forefront. These brands know their audience. No, not the meatheads. The millennials and Gen-Zers. This young audience carries social responsibility, authenticity, transparency and equality very near and dear to their hearts.

In addition to personal standards, these young generations also expect these standards from the brands and companies they interact and do business with. Today’s brands need to be clear about what they stand for, share their specialties or services to help others, and overall try to make the world a better place. It’s a tall order, but doing so will inspire and incite millennials and Gen Z to relate to your brand’s vision and shared beliefs with more likelihood for long-term brand loyalty.

42 percent of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years agoClick To Tweet

Though if this altruism is not authentic – it won’t stick. According to McCain Truth Central 2017, 42 percent of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago. While some brands align with a trendy social topic as they try to convince consumers life is better with their product, others are actually putting in the time and expense to make the world a better place. Walking this line can be fuzzy for brands, but it is very clear for these young, savvy consumers.

Looking through the eyes of millennials and Gen-Zers, how did these four food & beverage brands score during the Super Bowl?


  • Stella Artois 

Score: B A cool and casual Matt Damon can talk anyone into basically anything. Sigh, the cool factor of a celebrity spokesperson. We certainly commend Stella Artois’ campaign helping millions of people around the world without access to fresh running water. Though purchasing one of their chalices seems like a plug for another product placement. Yes, beer is their main breadwinner, but why the need to push another product for charity purposes?

  • Budweiser

Score: A Their motto “whenever you need us, we’ll stand by you” aligns nicely with Rachel Platten’s lyrics as the song plays softly in the background. The commercial promotes the brew business’ noble disaster relief efforts in 2017. Some may be turned off simply because they’re boasting their good deeds in a PR campaign, but it still doesn’t change the fact that they stopped beer production to send drinkable water to Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico after hurricane damage. We applaud.


  • Kraft Foods 

Score: A As part of its new campaign “Family Greatly”, Kraft leveraged social sourcing to fill its 30-second ad with authentic, user generated content. A pre-Super Bowl ad encouraged real parents and kids to share pictures of how they “family” on Twitter and Instagram. The commercial was a roundup of lucky winners chosen from the social entries. It was perfectly imperfect – real smiles, real selfies, real families. Authentic to the core.


  • Kentucky Fried Chicken

Score: C During a time when gender equity in advertising is a passionate topic, the most popular and expensive day for advertising was, expectedly, scrutinized for its lack of inclusion of women. While we loved seeing Reba as the first woman ever to play Colonel Sanders, we’re not entirely sure KFC truly had gender equity top of mind. The humor pulled this one through though.

We’d love to hear your marketing perspective – were these brands successful in their selfless, social activism efforts? Or did consumers see right through it?

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