During the Super Bowl, some of the biggest game-day face-offs occur during the commercial breaks. While the top NFL teams compete for trophies, brands go head to head to capture the audience's attention and make their advertisements the most memorable.
Advertisers paid $7 million for each 30-second spot at the Super Bowl LVII and pulled out all the stops to make it worthwhile. While these high-profile commercials are costly and not the right strategy for every company, there are lessons marketers can take away from this “advertising event of the year.”
Trends That Stand the Test of Time
Ever since Apple’s “1984” commercial revolutionized the way we think about Super Bowl advertising, the big game has been about brand building. Rather than taking a marketing strategy risk with their high budget spot, many brands have learned the value of the following trends that work every time.
Well-done storytelling in advertising can inspire and emotionally move an audience in less than a minute. Also referred to as “branded films,” this form of advertisement hooks people in to feel more like a short film than a commercial. First-time Super Bowl advertiser The Farmer’s Dog took away the top ranking in USA Today’s Ad Meter with “Forever,” a 60-second story about the life of Ava and her chocolate lab Bear. The ad is a love letter to dogs, which relates to another popular trend in our list, and tugs at the heartstrings. Branded films are memorable and can have an extraordinary, long-lasting impact on consumers. Count on this trend to stick around for a long time.
Commercials featuring adorable animals are fan favorites, especially among children and families. Jeep featured realistic animations of dancing elephants, head-bobbing owls, a winking sloth, singing giraffes, and a passenger seat goat with the wind through its floppy ears enjoying the electric car life. Amazon ran a spot about a family adopting a second dog when their bully breed Sawyer experienced separation anxiety following the pandemic. Animal ads remind us of our own loving pets and associating your brand with something so close to people’s hearts is a simple way to turn a viewer into a customer.
Featuring popular celebrities in an advertisement not only captures attention but convinces people the product or brand is approved by A-listers. Dunkin Donuts recruited longtime fan Ben Affleck to work in their store for a day and filmed reactions, featuring a cameo from Jennifer Lopez. Meghan Trainor’s hand was stuck in a Pringles can, Melissa McCarthy sang a Booking.com jingle, Jennifer Coolidge had everything in sight sticking to her tacky e.l.f. Cosmetics primer, and Maya Rudolph’s face replaced the M&M's spokes candies. Each of these advertisements generated buzz online in the days and weeks following mostly because of the famous figure attached to them.
Recreating beloved movies and TV shows is one of the best tactics to guarantee audience interest during the big game. This year, Alicia Silverstone and Elisa Donovan recreated the iconic classroom speech scene from “Clueless” with a Rakuten spin, John Travolta sang a T-Mobile themed version of “Summer Nights” from “Grease” with “Scrubs” stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison, and Frito-Lay’s Popcorners brought “Breaking Bad” back to TVs for a moment with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Nostalgia has long been a popular advertising method and was even included in our list of 2022 Super Bowl trends. Experts agree that tapping into people’s positive memories of past eras generates a fondness for the commercial and can build trust with a brand.
How Super Bowl Ads Have Evolved
While several brands chose to stick to the classic trends, others tried out new approaches. With the rising cost of a game day spot, one of the hottest trends of the year was brand partnerships. General Motors and Netflix teamed up for an electric vehicle marketing campaign featuring Will Ferrell, who could be seen in the ad entering the world of “Squid Game,” “Stranger Things,” and “Bridgerton.” In the deal, Netflix joined General Motors “Everybody In” zero-emissions campaign and formed a sustainability objective of their own to include at least one electric vehicle in every film and series they produce. Brand partnerships form an alliance between companies and can drive upscale all while splitting the cost.
Why are Super Bowl ads posted online early these days? According to the Los Angeles Times, the commercials uploaded on YouTube before the game are viewed 2.5 times more than ads that debut on game day. As a result, brands have started amplifying the scale of their game-day ad, creating entire integrated campaigns around them. As early as January 1st, brands countdown to gameday with teasers and sneak peeks of their commercials, and even keep them hooked after the end of the fourth quarter. The social media connections around the game amplify the chance of their success.
As the named sponsor on this year’s Super Bowl venue, State Farm surprised people when they decided to skip out on a traditional game commercial. Instead, the brand put all of its money into a social media first advertising strategy. They partnered with the most followed TikTok user Khaby Lame for a #StateFarmStadium campaign to boost awareness with Gen Z. The shift from Super Bowl TV broadcast ads to social media and influencer ads centered around the big game is becoming an increasingly popular approach and may even be just as effective in the near future. Advertisers are getting more creative about how they link what happens in the game and in traditional media with the digital world. While the Super Bowl may be the biggest spot of the year for brands, anyone can use these lessons to elevate their business.
How We Can Help
Auburn Advertising keeps up with advertising trends so you don’t have to. We are a public service offered by Inner Spark Creative, a full-service advertising agency and marketing partner located in East Alabama. If you are looking to find the best methods of advertisement for your business, contact us today!