The day after the Super Bowl, the talk of the office usually turns toward the best Super Bowl commercials. Sure, there’s probably some discussion about the game itself. In the U.S., the Super Bowl is the biggest sport event of the year, drawing in nearly 110 million viewers. But if asked, how many of those viewers would say, “I only watch for the commercials”? This from people who spend the rest of the year actively avoiding commercials.
In the world of marketing, the Super Bowl commercial exists outside the natural laws that govern everyday commercials. Companies pour (on average) $5 million into securing a 30-second spot during the event. There’s also the cost of creating the commercial itself: drafting talented ad agencies and then hiring recognizable faces to star in the TV spot. Many businesses sink a fortune into these commercials knowing that they might not see any return on their investment.
From 1967 to the 80s, Super Bowl commercials were like any other, just quick, generic jingles. Most marketers trace the change in this approach to Apple’s “1984” commercial—released during the 1984 Super Bowl.
This ad’s distinctive style and narrative-based structure led other brands to follow suit. Now Super Bowl commercials—the good ones at least—tell a story. It’s like watching a mini-movie. Most are comedies (“The chips are outside!”). Some are meant to weird you out (we’re looking at you Skittles), surprise you (“It’s a Tide commercial!”), or inspire you (“Start your impossible”).
Above all, they’re meant to generate buzz, brand recognition and trust, online traffic, social media shares, and hopefully sell a few more cars, beers, movie tickets—or whatever.
To do that, companies have embraced wild new theories on how to release their Super Bowl commercials. Some businesses release 15-second teaser trailers to build up hype. Others simply release the commercial on YouTube days before the Super Bowl. This year, Skittles declined to release their commercial at all. Instead, they built up a campaign using Friends actor David Schwimmer. The company claims its ad is so exclusive, they’re only showing it to one lucky fan. Skittles will then broadcast the fan’s reaction.
Do any of these approaches work? Time will tell. But they definitely give us all something to talk about in the office the next day. Here are a few ads that made the rounds through Jive’s offices.
If you somehow missed out on the Super Bowl this year, here are the ads you definitely should watch on your lunch break:
“Tide’s Super Bowl hack/takeover was super clever!” said Peter Molnar, Marketing Assistant at Jive. “They definitely owned the show as far as commercials go.”
Gabby Green, Jive’s Marketing Communications Specialist, said: “I loved the Tide ads. A bunch of them fooled me. But it was really great advertising! Whenever I watched another commercial, I kept waiting for Stranger Things’ David Harbour to show up and say, ‘It’s just a Tide commercial.’”
This cameo-packed ad became an instant favorite. When Alexa’s voice gives out, she’s replaced by some familiar faces, including Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gets in on the fun by making an appearance.
The NFL’s shot-for-shot remake of the “Dirty Dancing” scene starring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. was an unexpected treat. The NFL teased this ad with shorter ads throughout the first three quarters of the game. A conflicted Eli Manning is shown bouncing ideas for the ad off his teammates and not receiving much in the way of helpful feedback. The “Dirty Dancing” sendup is what he finally settles on. A good call, based on reactions to the ad.
This literal “song of fire and ice” stars Game of Thrones favorite Peter Dinklage and the incomparable Morgan Freeman. Logan Mallory, Jive’s Director of Digital Marketing, had this to say: “I think PepsiCo nailed it with their Doritos and Mountain Dew commercials. Combining their two bestselling brands, leveraging great music, and including famous (and likeable) celebrities made for ‘the complete package.’ From the second Peter Dinklage took a bite of a Dorito, the ad kept my attention and had me smiling. They have a firm grasp of their target market and spoke to that group for the entire 60 seconds.”
A general theme of “unification” ran through many Super Bowl commercials. “Which makes perfect sense,” said Logan, “given the divides we’re feeling in our country. I think Toyota especially killed it with their ‘One Team’ ad. Toyota showed various religious leaders coming together, getting along, playing pranks on each other (with no one getting offended or protesting), and enjoying a football game together. All this despite having different backgrounds, beliefs, nationalities, etc. The message was essentially: ‘Come together and be cool.’ I liked both the sentiment and the execution of the ad.
Few companies are far enough along to launch their own Super Bowl commercial campaign. That doesn’t mean video marketing is entirely out of your reach. Actually, it’s easier than you think. Find out how to start your own Facebook video campaign by downloading our ebook.