Why brands are the real winners of the Super Bowl


As I’m sure you are all aware, unless you have spent the last week under a rock, the Super Bowl took place on Sunday Feburary 1. This annual event draws the attention of sports fans the world over and is considered by some to be an unofficial national holiday in America. Whilst the New England Patriots were crowned the winners after Butler intercepted a pass from Wilson with twenty seconds to spare (or so I’ve read – I’m trying to sound knowledgeable) they weren’t the only winners. They also aren’t the reason I care about the Super Bowl. Whilst my knowledge of American football leaves a lot to be desired what I do care about is advertising.  Each year the top agencies and brands from around the globe work to create a spectacle of award-winning campaigns to accompany the event.

Gone are the days where three channels were all we needed to keep us entertained and as a result the concept of a ‘mass audience’ is all but obsolete. That is why the Super Bowl excites advertisers; this singular event offers brands the rare chance to capture the attention of millions of viewers – 114.5 million to be precise – to promote their brand message. It is prime advertising real estate which comes with a $4.5 million per 30 second spot price tag. As a result the competition between brands is fiercer than the game itself.

The buzz about each year’s Super Bowl adverts begins long before the event takes place. Advertisers are capitalising on the build-up of anticipation around the game by pre-releasing brand content as a way of counting down to the event. Budweiser’s ‘Lost Dog’ ad, for example, was released four days prior to the game, generating 17.8 million YouTube views, 104,000 Facebook shares and 241 tweets. Post-Super Bowl Budweiser’s YouTube views are up to 25 million meaning that 71% of its views came prior to game and as such is at the top of this year’s advertising rankings.

The battling brands each attempted to generate brand engagement in better ways than their opponents. Doritos created the ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ campaign which relied on user-generated content from independent film-makers to create a 30 second TV advertising spot. Doritos narrowed the entries down to ten finalists out of which fans could vote for their favourite to win a $1 million contract with Universal Pictures as well as having their spot aired during the game. Brands such as Clash of Clans and T-Mobile relied on the inclusion of celebrity figures Liam Neeson and Kim Kardashian to generate a social buzz around their campaign. It was Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign however that came out on top of the engagement ratings despite promoting female self-esteem to a male dominated audience as their emotion-inducing ad generated 920 million engagements.

BBDO New York won in the creative agency stakes as their Snicker’s Brady Bunch advert was crowned as the best commercial, receiving the Super Clio award for their extension of the ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ pitch. The judges chose the advert based on its high scores of originality, innovation and stand-out celebrity cameo from Anarchy actor Danny Trejo. The inception of the Clio Creative Bowl shows the scale and opportunity of this event for agencies and brands alike.

I took the liberty of ranking my own five personal favourite adverts from the Super Bowl. They are, in my opinion, the real winners. Soz, Patriots.

5) NO MORE – Domestic Violence

It isn’t often that the subject of Super Bowl adverts are dark but the NO MORE organisation take on a challenging issue in a subtle yet powerful way, utilising the scope of this audience for the better.


4) Avocados From Mexico – First Draft Ever

Yes this is an advert about avocados, but it’s a very underrated advert about avocados. By using former NFL stars Jerry Rice and Doug Flutie alongside a Neanderthal and a figure presumably supposed to represent God as characters within the ‘First Draft Ever’ GSD&M have created a weirdly charming and funny advert… about avocados. Well done.


3) Clash of Clans – Revenge

Putting Liam Neeson in anything is usually a recipe for success and he doesn’t disappoint. Clash of Clans put a genius twist on – usually irritating – mobile game advertising.


2) T-Mobile – ‘#KimsDataStash

What is most surprising about this advert is that Kim Kardashian has a genuine sense of humour. The ad shows Kim mimicking a charity appeal, begging viewers not to lose their opportunity to follow her overly-documented life. Bravo Kimmy K.


1) Always – #LikeAGirl

Though the Super Bowl isn’t the first time I’ve seen this campaign it still wins outright for me. The concept of the advert, created by Leo Burnett, is simple yet powerful and speaks to women of all ages. I’m surprised that it was shown during the Super Bowl where the audience is male-dominated but I’m glad that it was.


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