Super Bowl Ads - My Favorites
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs are set to face off in Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. When it comes to sports, I’m more of a fair-weather fan. I don’t have a favorite team or player and like many people, I just get caught up in hometown hype, Go Birds! However, when it comes to commercials, that’s when I get really excited.
I know I’m not the ‘typical’ viewer, I start ‘you-tubing’ Super Bowl commercials weeks before the big event. In part 1 of this blog Are They Worth It?, we crunched the numbers and delved into the data to see what the ROAS was and what kinds of lift brands experienced post Super Bowl advertising. Did we determine if the $7 million price tag for each 30 second spot is worth it? The answer was “it’s complicated”.
Setting that aside and focusing on the pure entertainment value of the commercials, I definitely have my favorites. To me the best Super Bowl commercials are like little movies with all the feels, surprising celebrity cameos and a recurring ‘cast of characters’ – looking at you Budweiser Clydesdales!
There are so many good commercials that have reached icon status. Who could forget the Michael Jordan and Larry Bird spots for McDonalds, Cindy Crawford for Pepsi or the “Bud” “Weis” “er” Frogs in the 80’s and 90’s? For now, I’m just going to focus on some of my favorites from the last 15 years or so. In no particular order, here we go:
1. Volkswagen, “The Force”, 2011 - One of the only Super Bowl ads that I’ve seen that doesn’t have any words. But what it lacks verbally it certainly makes up in feelings. Also, maybe because I had boys around this age obsessed with Star Wars too. It was an instant classic!
2. Snickers, “You are not you…” Betty White, 2010
I love this celebrity spot commercial. Who would expect that an 80-something year old smack talking Betty White would get tackled?! The fact that this tag line sparked a successful 10-year campaign that had us on the edge of our seats waiting for the next celebrity cameo makes this one even more special. I’m remembering the Danny Trejo portraying Marcia Brady spot right now!
3. Budweiser, “Team” 2009
There are tons of Clydesdale commercials I love, it’s hard to pick just one. I mean who could forget “Puppy Love” and “Lost Dog”, but my favorite is “Team”. Maybe it’s the little bit of Philly in me, but it’s probably because my 3 yr. old daughter wanted to watch “Hank” over and over, yet, I never got tired of watching it. The fact that 5 years later my daughter got to meet “Hank” IRL on one of the Clydesdale’s promotional beer store tours (cross promotion!) is just icing on the cake.
4. Honda, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, 2012
I love how I got to relive the entire classic John Hughes movie in just one commercial. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a defining teenage movie of my childhood. Targeting an 80s kid with a car commercial in the early 2010’s, can we say successful demo targeting for this one?
5. Doritos “Time Machine”, 2014 Crash the Super Bowl Official Winner
Doritos tapped into its fan base to sponsor a contest “Crash the Super Bowl” allowing anyone to write and shoot an ad for the snack company. No high-tech film effects or celebrity cameos were used in this commercial. In fact, the entire budget for this commercial was just a measly $300, proving that you don’t need a big production to make headlines, just a relatable well written “story.” And everyone loves an “underdog” story!
6. Amazon, “Alexa Losses Her Voice”, 2018
The star-studded cast and easter egg filled commercial is a fun treat for the home viewer. A whole cast of celebrities were used, resonating with different demographic groups ensuring that there was a little something for everyone. But despite the all-star cast, nothing compares to the real thing.
7. Avocado’s From Mexico, “Big Game”, 2022
I know you are humming along “Avocados from Mexico ♪♫♪”. This is just the latest commercial in the series that effectively uses their jingle and a fully integrated campaign to support the sales of approximately 95% of avocados in the US. And a little humor makes the commercial a winner.
8. Volvo, “Epic Split Feat with Jean Claude Van Damme”, 2013
I love the beautiful cinematography of this commercial. The precision of the amazing split performed by the “muscles from Brussels” echoes the precision found in Volvo’s trucks steering system. It certainly is an attention-grabbing advertisement in a B2B sector that rarely evokes ‘feelings’ in their advertisements.
9. NFL – Super Bowl 54, 2021
Before a young boy delivers the game ball, he travels across the US with tributes to and cameos from past Super Bowl heroes. The seamless transition from a prerecorded commercial to live spot was awesome. His infectious enthusiasm running into the stadium with the game ball mirrors everyone at home’s mood as the Super Bowl is about to begin.
10. Always, Like a Girl, 2014
The Super Bowl ad generated a lot of buzz by highlighting negative stereotype of throwing a ball, running, or doing pretty much any activity “like a girl”. Although, other advertisers have used the Super Bowl as a platform for social justice campaigns, this campaign sparked conversations around gender stereotypes and made many people re-evaluate their choice of words.