Whether you’re cheering on your hometown team or just waiting for the halftime show, the Super Bowl is more than just a football game—it’s an unofficial holiday.
As PR pros, we turn a keen eye to the highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials to see how brands use this huge platform to launch a new product, send a heartfelt message or make us laugh so hard we can’t help but share it with our friends and followers.
The top cost of a 30-second commercial for Super Bowl LVI is $6.5 million, up 9% from last year. It’s been debated whether or not that massive price tag is worth it for such a short spot, but with quite possibly the largest TV audience in the U.S. all year, brands are ready to put on a show and make this year of commercials the most memorable yet.
Here are some of our favorite Super Bowl commercials from over the years and what we can learn about storytelling on a national stage:
Sometimes keeping it simple is the game plan for success. For Super Bowl XLIX Dove Men+Care released their #RealStrength ad, highlighting the role of a dad and how he shows he cares.
The ad features kids exclaiming different variations of “dad” in moments of sadness, frustration and pure bliss. Dove is famous for shining a spotlight on the fundamental aspects of true beauty, self-care and personal empowerment through this ad and its now-famous Reverse Selfie commercial.
Pulling at the heartstrings is a common strategy to connect with an audience’s emotions, and Dove nails it with simplicity and authenticity. We are here for the #RealStrength campaign. We’re not crying, you’re crying.
“You’re Playing Like Betty White Out There”
The Super Bowl is an entertainment event, and sometimes the commercials are just that—entertaining! We couldn’t talk about the most iconic, entertaining Super Bowl commercials without Snickers. The “you’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign is delightfully relatable and seemingly limitless in terms of the little moments when we all get hangry.
Short and to the point, this is a masterclass in humorous Super Bowl commercials. Snickers choose everyone’s favorite Golden Girl, Betty White, and The Godfather’s Abe Vigoda to portray the players’ alter egos, which is hilariously perfect.
Somehow, rewatching Betty White take a hard tackle in a backyard football game is the perfect tribute to the late comedienne. RIP Betty.
Budweiser Lost Dog
What’s a Super Bowl without the Budweiser Clydesdales? In this 2015 ad, we follow a lost puppy dog on his journey to return home. As expected, a team of Clydesdales plays the hero, scaring off a wolf and guiding the puppy back to his owner.
The ad ends with #BestBuds. This commercial tells a story of friendship, teamwork and the joy of reuniting all within 60-seconds. Less about the beverage and more about connections, this ad proves it’s possible to shed a tear at a beer ad.
Imported from Detroit
First, the script is about as compelling as it gets. It tells the story of a city with a mistaken reputation, one built on hard work and conviction but repeatedly counted out by those on the outside. Next, the footage of the city gives a genuine glimpse into what a cold February day in Detroit looks like—historic architecture throughout, billowing smokestacks, bustling city streets, it transports us into the scene. Last is the casting.
From a haunting choral backup from Selected of God Choir to Eminem delivering the memorable final line, this one will stick with us forever. Did you feel the chills?
Super Bowl commercials are in an advertising class all their own. In fact, this year’s commercials are already being previewed like power rankings of actual NFL teams.
After the clock runs out on the big game, the messages have a reverberation as the commercial review lists begin to be published, and some brands are deemed winners in their own right.
In another year met with the unexpected, we’re eager to see how the top consumer brands meet the moment to present their genuine brand personality, start a bigger movement and entertain us all at the same time.
Which commercials did we miss?