Each year, global companies seek to out-do each other with views, clicks, and buzz around their million-dollar commercials
On an upcoming Sunday, millions of Americans will gather around their televisions and prepare for one of the year’s most exciting entertainment events: Super Bowl advertising.
Oh, right — the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams will play some football, too.
We’re only half kidding. For decades, Super Bowl commercials have been a phenomenon. And in the internet era, that phenomenon has grown exponentially. In 2018, the Super Bowl generated some 4.2 million conversations across Twitter and other social media platforms, according to brandwatch — and many of those mentions were about commercials by T-Mobile, Mountain Dew, and other brands. “Twitter sees close to a 20% lift in unique visitors during the Super Bowl,” Twitter has confirmed.
These days, Super Bowl commercials can create memes, win prestigious awards, and, of course, retire to millions of more viewers on YouTube.
Twitter has joined the ado with #BrandBowl, a competition among advertisers to see whose segment can garner the most mentions. It’s “Twitter’s official competition and service to honor the best-in-class campaigns as played out on Twitter,” according to the company’s director of brand strategy. In 2018, #BrandBowl winners included PepsiCo, the trailer for “Jurassic World,” and Ally Bank, among others.
Advertising for the 2019 Super Bowl promises to be just as spectacular. The #BrandBowl is not only returning, but also expanding, reports AdWeek. And in early January, AdAge reported that “CBS has sold 90 percent of its Super Bowl inventory,” and “in-game units are fetching as much as $5.3 million a pop.”
(For those who must know who’s advertising: AdAge is keeping a running tally of every brand that is buying ad space. So far, they include Budweiser, PepsiCo, and Audi.)
To spotlight what makes a memorable Super Bowl ad — and to provide some inspiration for your next ad campaign, no matter its size — here are three acclaimed commercials from recent years:
Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” | Superbowl 2013 | Oreo made a mark not with a lengthy, polished commercial, but with a spur-of-the-moment tweet. When the power went out at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Oreo tweeted some brief copy and a no-frills graphic that read: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” The result was astounding: tens of thousands of engagements, fawning press coverage, and, later, plenty of awards. “How Oreo Won the Marketing Super Bowl With a Timely Blackout Ad on Twitter,” WIRED wrote in a headline.
Oreo’s simple, clever reaction is still garnering press years later: “The definitive oral history of the Oreo ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ Super Bowl tweet,” is the headline of a recent DigiDay story.
Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” | Superbowl 2018 | If Oreo’s Super Bowl win was scrappy, Amazon’s was just the opposite. The retail giant released a clever, star-studded ad titled “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” which featured celebrities like Gordon Ramsey, Anthony Hopkins, Amazon’s own Jeff Bezos, and others. The ad nabbed several Clio Awards, accolades across social media, and headlines like “The votes are in: Alexa loses her voice but Amazon wins” in USA Today. “Amazon’s star-studded commercial… garnered more views on YouTube on Super Bowl Sunday than any other spot during the big game,” the New York Post reported.
Volkswagen’s “The Force” |Super Bowl 2011 | Some Super Bowl advertisements go for humor, others go for shock value. In 2011, Volkswagen went for viewers’ heartstrings. And it paid off. Their ad features a youngster in Darth Vader garb attempting — with little luck — to use The Force. But with a little behind-the-scenes assistance from his or her father, and the Volkswagen Passat’s remote start ability, movie magic becomes real. Almost a decade later, the advertisement is still topping “best ad” lists in USA Today, MarketWatch, Variety, and elsewhere. AdWeek recently wrote that the ad “Inspired the Creative Industry to Step Up Its Game,” and that “7 Years Later, VW’s ‘The Force’ Is Still the Dark Lord of Super Bowl Ads.”