Super Bowl: Game Day For Advertisers

Shannon Hegarty
March 26, 2021

According to Reuters, Fox’s broadcast of the 2020 super bowl attracted 99.9 million viewers.

These high ratings have made the Super Bowl an annual event not just for sports fans, but advertisers too.

As popularity for these commercial spots have grown, pricing for slots has sky-rocketed over the years making a single 30-second spot estimated around $5 million - and that doesn’t include production costs!

What makes the Super Bowl different?

Going by the ratings alone, it’s easy to understand how these spots became so coveted in brand calendars. However, the most valuable thing about these spots are attention.

The evolution of the Super Bowl ads means that they have become part of the event itself, viewers are ready and waiting to see what advertisements are being shown and whether they’re any good. Having an audience that is eagerly anticipating your advertisement is a very rare occasion but completely priceless in the eyes of marketers.

What started Super Bowl ads as we know them now?

It’s generally known that most of us choose not to watch advertisements if and when we have the choice, so what makes us want to see the Super Bowl ads?

In the 1980’s Apple paved the way to a new advertising revolution with a creative advertisemnent hinting towards George Orwell’s well-known and somewhat controversial novel ‘1984’, that predicted a dystopian surveillance state. The ad, which launched their new Macintosh, cost $370,000 to produce with a 30-second slot that year costing $525,000. It proved to be a worthwhile investment for Apple as the ad was reportedly seen by 85 million people and still ranks highly as one of the Super Bowl’s most famous ads.

The mini-movie style of this commercial was thought-provoking and stood out amongst the rest, blazing the trail for other advertisers to create specialised and engaging productions rather than standard ads as we know them.

It has become a form of entertainment, giving corporations the opportunity to show their fun, creative sides instead of directly pushing sales. It’s all about brand awareness and connecting with an audience.

The “Super-Bowl Effect"

Some of the best Super-Bowl advertisements have sparked campaigns that we’ve all come to know, love and reference in our everyday life, such as: “You’re not you when you’re hungry” from Snickers. This ad was originally premiered during the Super Bowl in 2010 and showed the famous Golden Girl, Betty White, playing american football as well as you might expect Betty White to play american football. However, once she snacks on a snickers bar, we realise that she was never actually playing as the camera then shows a typical football player with the ball. This ad was very well received by audiences and was actually a saving-grace for the struggling brand and so, launched a long-term campaign for chocolate bar.

Super Bowl Ads 2021 - To Rona or Not to Rona?

A big question mark this year for those anticipating the advertisement show-down was whether or not to address the big, bad coronavirus. As the pandemic has changed the world as we know it, it’s been hard for advertisers to know whether to include it in their campaigns or to take the road of blissful ignorance and escapism for a few minutes.

On AdWeek’s 2-minute round up of this year’s top 10 commercials, only one ad - Bud Light Lemonade - touched on the year that was 2020 but a very tasteful way, playing on the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, so they did!

My personal favourites came from UberEats and Cadillac, both of which brought nostalgia into the equation with old-school, movie classics. UberEats recreated a Wayne’s World Commercial with a cameo from Cardi B claiming that they would never ‘shamelessly manipulate’ viewers with intense advertising and following trends, all the while doing exactly these things, which I think is a great way to show the brand’s personality and ability to have a little fun.

Cadillac on the other hand used the story of Edgar Scissorhands, starring Winona Ryder and Timothee Chalamet, who faces similar struggles his father did, to demonstrate their hands-free driving feature. A clever move that not only reaches audiences on a more emotional level, but leaves viewers waiting for the punchline as we aren’t aware until the last few seconds what the ad is promoting.

With celebrity cameos in almost every big advertisement this year, it’s evident that the Super Bowl has become far more than just sports, it’s a cultural event that brands need to show up for on a massive and impressive scale.

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