McCann New York Wins 2017 Super Clio for a “Genius” National Geographic Spot

Who would have guessed that a trailer for a National Geographic series on the life of Albert Einstein would emerge as Super Bowl 51’s most memorable commercial?

McCann New York, that’s who. When 11 industry creatives convened the morning after the Super Bowl in the third annual Creative Bowl, McCann’s “Bad Romance” spot for National Geographic’s upcoming series “Genius” dominated the discussion to claim the 2017 Super Clio.

Honda’s amusing “Yearbooks” ad, as well as Airbnb’s and Budweiser’s politically charged “We Accept” and “Born the Hard Way” spots, made the Shortlist. But in the end, National Geographic achieved the creative “genius” for which the jurors were looking.

The 45-second trailer, which aired at the end of halftime, featured Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein playing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on the violin in a clever nod to the artist’s awe-inspiring Halftime Show.

“Typical movie and TV trailers all look the same, so we aimed to stand out in a way that trailers never do. And we know most Super Bowl commercials tend to employ the same use of humor, so to get out of that box is to already start with a leg up” McCann North America CCO Eric Silver told Clios.com. “We discovered Einstein had a love of violin and Mozart, so it felt serendipitous to use that as a musical bridge to Lady Gaga.”

And stand out the commercial did. Not only did the big idea contribute to the ad’s success, but the product it promoted was also not typical of the Big Game.

“I wasn’t expecting National Geographic to [run a Super Bowl ad], and they did a really good job of surprising you with something really simple and poignant around Einstein while bringing in pop culture,” said Sean Reynolds, co-founder and global creative director of iris Worldwide, which claimed last year’s Super Clio.

The jurors were also impressed with both the spot’s craft and airtime strategy. That the commercial and its violin rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” aired following the Halftime Show—which ended with “Bad Romance”—was a beautiful and strategic echo that clinched its Super Clio win.

“[The spot] was very well crafted, very tasteful and the context was so killer. To continue on the Halftime Show felt like the most innovative use of Super Bowl media,” BBDO New York executive creative director and EVP Chris Beresford-Hill said. “It was subtle, whereas most people get very loud during the Super Bowl.”

While McCann New York had only two and a half weeks to turn National Geographic’s brief into a commercial worthy of Super Bowl ad time, its risk and out-of-the-box approach paid off.

As Reynolds commented, “It was elegant, well-crafted, and its timing during the game was impeccable while staying on brief. It had all the right elements and it stood out.”

Visit clios.com/superclio to watch the top ads from Super Bowl 51 and view the full list of Super Clio jurors.