Every year in February, the National Football League presents their annual championship game, the Super Bowl. While this is ostensibly all about football, for many of the viewers that tuned in last night to Super Bowl LII, the Big Game holds the distinction of being the only television event where the commercials hold as much, or more, interest than the actual content.
What exactly makes a great Super Bowl ad? What determines which ads we’ll talk about at the water cooler the next day, and which will be forgotten? At a cost of $5 million for a 30 second spot, that question is paramount for the creative and marketing teams at the brands that buy spots for game day.
Looking at some of the best ads from last night, we can see some of the elements that make great Super Bowl ads.
Often, some of the best ads on game day are the ones that leave us clutching our sides. Amazon delivered laughs in a spot called “Alexa Loses Her Voice” where various celebrities step in to be the voice of Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa.
Likewise, the Febreze commercial entitled “The Only Man Whose Bleep Don’t Stink” is generally hilarious, as it documents the life of a man with remarkably good-smelling bleep, and concludes with his confusion over a bottle of Febreze in his parent’s bathroom.
Many brands opt to use the power of celebrity to attract buyers. Danny DeVito personifies the red M&M, and Steven Tyler drives a Kia backwards into the past (and the height of his career). These Ads don’t focus on messaging, at least not explicitly, and can even be non-nonsensical, but they draw attention with the celebrity presence.
Some brands opt to go emotionally deeper. They may not even advertise their primary business, such as beer brands like Budweiser and Stella Artois that are focusing their ads this year on their clean water initiatives. These types of ads build positive brand recognition that can have longer ROI power than a more product-centric message.
Some ads defy easy categorization or understanding. These ads attract and keep our attention because they are just odd. Often, they combine other elements, like comedy or celebrity, but they are ultimately defined by their use of the absurd. This year two standouts in this category are Avocados From Mexico, where an ideal paradise defined by unlimited guacamole is thrown into comic chaos when the denizens of the bubble realize the chips have been left outside, and truly, what is guac without chips?
Another seriously odd ad from this year’s Super Bowl is from Squarspace, which consists entirely of Keanu Reeves standing on a moving motorcycle and reciting an inspirational passage.
Leave a comment below with your favorite Super Bowl ad!