In general, I prefer my footballs round, not egg shaped. And I prefer my athletes slight and skilful, not armour-wearing beasts.
But despite my inclination for the world’s most popular sport (and its sensibly shaped sporting equipment), it’s undeniable that the annual Super Bowl is a monumental occasion, especially for advertisers.
In 2013 the average cost of a 30 second Super Bowl TV advert was a ludicrous $4 million. Yet when the average audience of 2013’s event was 108.7 MILLION viewers, you can understand why such a brief advertising opportunity is so highly prized, pricey and widely talked about. Particularly as our age of viral videos and social media sharing means an advert shown once has the potential to bounce around the internet for years to come.
So putting aside my football/soccer prejudices, we decided to curate a countdown of some of the most noteworthy Super Bowl adverts ever. Looking at social media shares and YouTube views as well as the more traditional indicators of cultural impact like longevity. We’ve missed plenty of significant examples, but these are a few of the most important and interesting.
Volkswagen: The Force (2011) You can’t argue with the figures; 5.24 million social shares and over 68 million views makes this the most popular Super Bowl advert of all time, hands down!
Apple: 1984 “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’”. It’s an absolutely brilliant tag line – and a clear indication of the bold and rebellious advertising risks Apple would use for decades to come. Not many people would try to introduce their futuristic computer using imagery of George Orwell’s terrifying, dystopian future. Yet it possibly achieved more for the brand than any Super Bowl ad, before or since. Plus, it was directed by none other than Ridley Scott.
Budweiser: 9/11 Tribute* (2002) This ad was literally aired once – so as not to be seen as making the company money (unlike some of these tribute failures). In the process Budweiser created a touching commercial that has trended every September for the past 11 years and has been shared 3.34 million times on social networks and blogs. Impressive.
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Budweiser: Brotherhood* (2013) The watery-flavoured beverage maker hit our list once again, achieving 2.73 million social shares with this tearjerker. It’s a classic bromance tale… Of a man and his horse.
Doritos: Pug Attack (2011) & Casket (2010) These two ads from Doritos achieved a staggering level of success, even more staggering seeing as they had such huge success twice in a row! Hitting 36 million and 50 million views respectively, their slapstick approach clearly went down well with the American public.
And to top it all off, here’s an example of memorable Super Bowl marketing that didn’t require an extortionate TV spot to be hugely successful; Oreo in 2013 (via Twitter).
It’s an exemplary display of real-time marketing that took the digital world by storm.
Posted during a 34 minute power cut at Super Bowl XLVII, the cookie’s social media department jumped into action, tweeting an ad that read “Power Out? No problem” with an image of a single Oreo and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.”
The message caught on almost immediately, getting over 15,000 retweets and producing countless column inches on websites, blogs and newspapers in the immediate aftermath.
Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream advert has already been banned this year for being “too sexy”, or something ludicrous, while there’s a huge amount of teasers online for 2014’s ads. Yes, you read that right. Teasers. For adverts. What is the world coming to?!
Let us know what you think will take the marketing world by storm at this year’s event or what should have been included in our list on Twitter @e_shot or @copywritertom.
*Budweiser could have made our list over and over again. We practically could have made an entirely Budweiser countdown. I mean, nobody could escape the frogs from 1995 could they?!