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Super Bowl Commercials

It’s been just over a week since the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. It’s generally agreed that the game was a defensive battle, which is to say not very exciting. Even the half-time show was panned, although we do have to give a shout out to the generosity of Maroon 5. But even if you found the game boring or aren’t a football fan at all, you probably still took an interest in the Super Bowl commercials. With 98 million viewers, this was considered a bad year in ratings but the big game is still the place for companies to drop a lot of money on air time and go big or go home. Here’s a look at some of the ads that caught our attention and why we loved them.

Celebrities, Celebrities, Celebrities

Super Bowl commercials are always a contest to see which company can pull in the biggest names to promote their products. Pepsi consistently recruits top stars—remember the Cindy Crawford Pepsi ad in 1992? Or when she reprised her role in 2018, along with her son? Britney Spears took centre stage in 2002, traveling through time on a wave of cola. The soft drink maker has a way of capitalizing on what’s current and this year was no exception. Steve Carrell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon said okay to drinking Pepsi.

The commercial that packed the most stars into one spot really spoke to their target market by advertising during the Super Bowl. We’re talking about the NFL ad celebrating the league’s upcoming centennial season. The two-minute commercial featured a bevy of past and current stars related to professional football—you probably need this list to name everyone. Wondering about the lone woman in this spot? That’s Sarah Thomas, an official who broke barriers in the NFL this year. This spot was big fun, had a big impact, and was a big image piece for the league.

Super Bowl Commercials Make an Emotional Connection

We’ve talked before about how video is able to make emotional connections. Most Super Bowl ads tend to go for the funny, but there are always a few that target the heart and the head. Serena Williams narrated and starred the Bumble spot “The Ball is in Her Court”. The company’s MO is putting women in control. What Whitney Wolfe Herd started as a very successful dating site has grown to include business and friendship networking. This ad is all about the power in women.

The Microsoft commercial “We All Win” had a different kind of empowerment message. This spot features kids with special needs playing Xbox with the help of an Adaptive Controller. The device levels the playing field and touts accessible technology. We dare you not to be inspired.

The Nostalgia Angle

Nostalgia is a common theme in Super Bowl commercials. We got a big hit of déjà vu when the Backstreet Boys teamed up with Chance the Rapper on behalf of Doritos. Singing the 1999 hit “I Want it That Way”, the boy band’s song is given a modern twist by the rapper. Ultimately, the spot is promoting new Flaming Hot Nachos Doritos—“The original. Now it’s hot.” With a thirty-second ad costing a reported $5 million, this was one expensive snack food promotion.

If the NFL 100 commercial had the most human stars, then the “Famous Cars” spot from Walmart had the most automobile stars. The discount retail giant promoted its grocery pickup service with the help of some well-known vehicles. There are so many recognizable cars in this spot, from Knight Rider’s KITT (“He calls everyone Michael”) to an animated Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, it’s like seeing a bunch of old friends. There’s even one unassuming truck at the end that’s a special tip of the hat to Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Personal Assistants

Super Bowl commercials tend to reflect the zeitgeist of North America each year. In 2019, that meant there were a lot of voice-controlled personal assistants. Things got a little too real in the Pringles spot “Sad Device”. Mercedes Benz promoted the user-friendly tech built into it’s A Class series with “Say the Word”. And Amazon got the most out of a cross-over audience with “Not Everything Makes the Cut”. The Alexa commercial features actors, podcasts, astronauts, and one very hungry Boston Terrier. Not only was it an entertaining commercial, but people were talking about the smallest details on social media, extending the spot’s reach.

Canadian Contingency

Super Bowl commercials are a big part of the game for many viewers, but Canadian audiences have often missed out on seeing the ads shown in the US. Broadcasting rights and simultaneous substitution mean we don’t always get the same show as viewers south of the border. The battle for our attention rages on, but rest assured that the True North still has a presence in the big game. This year, Canadian crooner Michael Bublé was hawking fizzy water with a familiar-sounding name.

The most controversial ad played north of the border involved a car company. A reported $200,000 was spent by Unifor to run a GM-bashing spot during the game. Before the football players ever stepped on the field, the car manufacturer tried to silence the union representing GM workers at the Oshawa plant. In a reaction to the announcement that the plant will be shuttered, Unifor pointed the finger at its employer with “GM Leaves Canadians Out in the Cold”. GM has said the ad contains misleading statements and wants to take the matter to court, while Unifor wants to return to the bargaining table.

The Power of Video

One thing is for sure: a lot of money was spent producing and airing the ads that ran during Super Bowl LIII. Marketing executives are counting on the power of their spots to generate buzz far beyond one event and one day. A simple Google search is enough to find the commercials that aired, and social media posts abound. That’s the power of video. Whether your ad is airing in the Super Bowl or on your website, video brings attention to your business. Call us today for a free quote and let’s get people talking.

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