April 16, 2024

Often, Super Bowl ads generate almost as much buzz as the game itself. They’re a unique marketing tactic, which resonates with audiences for the following reasons.

Statista cost of Super Bowl ads
Source: Statista

With the huge associated costs, it’s unsurprising that Super Bowl ads are often known for their high quality and innovative approaches. And, as you’ll see in this guide, it’s not uncommon to have high-profile celebrities featured in Super Bowl commercials.

While much more expensive to work with, the star power of beloved actors, musicians, and athletes is invaluable for creating connections between the audience and the brand.

Emotional Response

Super Bowl ads’ storytelling, often enhanced by celebrities and current pop culture references, aim to invoke strong emotional responses, making them more memorable.

The huge audience of the championship games (over 100 million in the US alone) means that a significant part of the population will have that response, forming a widespread positive association with the brand.

Engaging Content & Shared Experience

Often, people share the Super Bowl viewing experience with others – whether it’s at a party during the event or the Monday after at the water cooler. And since many ads make an impression, they’re likely to be discussed, amplifying their impact.

Moreover, many modern Super Bowl ads encourage viewer participation and social sharing, making them even more impactful and memorable.

Most Memorable Super Bowl Commercials

These eight commercials, ranked from least to most memorable and impactful, have all had an impact on marketing and advertising – both within and outside Super Bowl campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Doritos, 2010

In the eighth spot on our list we have a 2010 Super Bowl commercial by Doritos. It was one of three ads from the company aired during the New Orleans Saints-Indianapolis Colts game. The viewing figures of the 30-second “Dorito Ninja” clip proved that Super Bowl is one of the biggest TV platforms for marketers.

As of 2010, this ad by Doritos was the most-watched TV commercial of all time. Featuring two young men being attacked in a gym by Doritos for stealing the chips from someone else’s locker, the commercial was seen by 116.2 million viewers.

The funny and relatable story appealed to many Doritos fans and cemented the brand’s place as a top advertiser. Indeed, as a result of this successful campaign, Doritos had the second-largest amount of Super Bowl ads aired during 2010-2020 (after Bud Light).

Bud Light, 2019

Remember Game of Thrones?

We try to only remember the good parts… And this Super Bowl LIII commercial is not one of them.

It began as your regular Budweiser ad, featuring Bud Light Knight and the well-known “Dilly Dilly” medieval aesthetic. A festive jousting event turns dark when it turns out that the Knight is actually facing the murderous Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane of the Game of Thrones fame.

It’s pretty clear from the commercial that the Knight is about to suffer Oberyn Martell’s fate. The ad culminates in one of the dragons burning the arena to the ground and a promo card for the show’s final season.

The dramatic crossover was part of HBO’s $20 million efforts to drum up excitement for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” The crossover was an example of tapping into the GoT fanbase who also love American Football.

Although it resonated well with audiences at the time, with Bud Light being mentioned over 30,000 times on social with a 73.1% positive mentions rate, it didn’t do any favors for what came to be the worst season of the hit TV show.

Booking.com, 2023

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GizRGO3PVD8

This ad, featuring actress and singer Melissa McCarthy, is not the first time Booking.com has used celebrities in their Super Bowl commercials.

In 2022, Idris Elba made an appearance for them, and, in Super Bowl 2024, we saw a lot of Tina Fey using the portal in various instances. But the 2023 commercial is vibrant and memorable.

In just three days after the ad aired, it received over 128 million views online – more than any other Super Bowl ad that year. A big reason why the commercial resonated so well is the people’s renowned interest in traveling after the COVID-19 pandemic.

With McCarthy showing just how easy it is to book travel with Booking.com (in a lovely song wearing several different wigs on each vacation), the commercial reinvigorated the app’s success that they saw the year before.

Volkswagen, 2011

You can’t really go wrong with Star Wars, a cute dog and a wholesome family. And Volkswagen’s marketers knew that back in 2011, when they put together this popular ad for their 2012 Passat. The ad aired during Super Bowl XLV in 2011 which ended with the victory of Green Bay Packers.

Set to John Williams’ beloved Star Wars score, the ad features a little boy dressed as Darth Vader, trying to move things around the house using “The Force.” Although initially unsuccessful, he seemingly manages to start his father’s Volkswagen in a heartwarming twist.

Although this ad wasn’t the most-viewed at of Super Bowl XLV, it was by far the favorite one. Capitalizing on humor, nostalgia, and beloved childhood characters, the commercial is a great example of masterful storytelling.

Even though the 1-minute ad had to be cut by 30 seconds, the full version dropped on YouTube before the game and was viewed 17 million times before it was aired at the match.

Amazon Alexa, 2018

Alexa, what was your most memorable ad?

The 2018 “Alexa Loses Her Voice” Super Bowl ad is a funny star-studden commercial that cost Amazon $14.9 million to make.

The commercial has a relatively simple premise – Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa suddenly loses her voice, to Jeff Bezos’ chagrin. To fix the glitch, various celebrities, including Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins, step in to try and fulfill the wishes of Alexa’s users.

The results are hilarious – from the infamous criticisms of the celebrity chef to Hopkins’ deep baritone offering his assistance to a young woman trying to call her boyfriend.

The ad is a quintessential example of brands capitalizing on star power we explained at the beginning of this guide. By merging Amazon’s innovative streak with these celebrities own brands, the tech giant told a culturally relevant story that appeals to Alexa’s target audience.

The ad had over 53 million online views as of the Monday after Super Bowl LII.

Tide, 2018

In 2018, the laundry detergent brand Tide took over a large segment of Super Bowl advertising – with only 90 seconds of airtime. Featuring David Harbour, who’s best-known for portraying the beloved Hawkins Sheriff Jim Hopper in “Stranger Things,” the unconventional campaign left a big impression of viewers.

The “It’s a Tide Ad” concept was a simple one: it showed pariodies of conventional commercials from different industries, only to have Harbour show up and reveal that, since everyone’s clothes were so clean, it must be a Tide ad.

This slightly meta approach focused on introducing the Tide twist into cliche commercials we’re so used to, flipping them on its head.

The goal of the campaign was to position Tide as the top detergent brand in the US, giving the impression that it’s suitable for all occasions David Harbour found himself in. From an engagement point of view, it worked – the company was mentioned over 1.6 million times on social media after the event.

Apple, 1984

No social media. No mobile phones – and certainly no iPhones. And yet, the legacy of Apple’s 1984 “1984” Super Bowl advert lives on. A “watershed event” which turned 40 this year marked the first release of a Mackintosh computer and was a turning point for Super Bowl commercials.

Although it’s hard to measure the amount of viewers who saw in in 1984, the match itself was seen by 77.6 million people.

The ad featured an Orwellian world of totalitarianism and conformity, broken up by the arrival of a young female athlete representing freedom and individuality. Apple’s independent and disruptive beginnings are perfectly captured in a moment when she smashes a massive propaganda screen with a sledgehammer. At the end, a voiceover proclaims:

“On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”.

The ad initially aired in movie theatres, followed by its Super Bowl XVIII airing. It lasted for 1 minute and had a budget of $900,000 which paid for itself several times over. However, the ad was never run again after a cease-and-desist letter from the George Orwell estate who saw copyright infringement in the ad.

Google, 2020

Probably the most emotional ad on our list – as well as the most expensive one, as of 2021. Google’s Super Bowl LIV commercial titled “Loretta” cost $16.8 million to make, and moved almost 50% of its viewers in a profound way.

The ad features an elderly man voicing his memories of his late wife Loretta and using Google Assistant to remember her. The narration reveals their life together as Google helps the man curate a digital journey through his memories.

The universal themes of love and nostalgia, together with a relatively simple storyline, struck a chord with millions of viewers, some of which were reduced to tears.

What makes the Loretta ad even more moving is that it was based on a true story of a grandfather of a Google employee. It’s a simple yet compelling story that resonates with most viewers. And that’s what makes Google’s Super Bowl LIV ad the most impactful commercial in our list.

How Impactful Are Super Bowl Ads?

Super Bowl ad revenue from 2003 to 2024
Source: Statista

Although Super Bowl ads cost a pretty penny, their impact on brands’ visibility can be massive, as they’re a favorite part of the game for almost 30% of viewers.

For example, the Apple 1984 ad we referenced in this guide paid for itself several times over. Apple sold $3.5 million worth of computers just after it ran and $100 million within 100 days after the Super Bowl.

That’s not to say, though, that the Apple commercial was all about making sales. The main goal was to introduce the Mac and establish Apple as an innovative and unique brand that poses a viable alternative to IBM, which had a monopoly at the time.

Indeed, often, the key impact of the Super Bowl ads lies in boosting brand awareness rather than directly driving the sales. According to a 2022 study by Kantar, an average Super Bowl ad is over 20X more effective than a regular TV ad.

The ads that feature celebrities, like the 2018 ads for Tide and Amazon Alexa, see a 20% increase in brand equity.

What Companies Will Offer Super Bowl Commercials in 2024?

It costs $7 million to secure a Super Bowl ad spot in 2024. Here are some of the brands who managed it:

Brand First Super Bowl Advert Featured Celebrities
Etsy 2024 N/A
Lindt 2024 Kylie Kelce
Nerds 2024 Addison Rae
Nyx 2024 Cardi B
e.l.f. 2024 Suits cast
BetMGM 2024 Vince Vaughn, Tom Brady and Wayne Gretzky
Bud Light 1985 Post Malone
Volkswagen 1979 The Simpsons
Reese’s 2020 N/A
Uber Eats 2021 The Beckhams

Of course, there were many other amazing brands that aired their ads in Super Bowl LVIII. We hope you enjoyed them – do let us know your favorites.

Concluding Thoughts

Did you enjoy this trip down memory lane? Do you remember what you felt the first time you saw some of these, like Apple’s 1984, and its impact?

We at TechReport love revisiting old adverts and marketing materials and studying their impact. In 2024, where we’re constantly surrounded by content, telling a compelling story becomes pivotal for brand awareness.

And a Super Bowl match, especially this year when all eyes were on Swelce, is the perfect venue to tell a particular story for the first time:

  • Apple did it in 1984.
  • Volkswagen did in in 2011.
  • Reese’s did in 2024.
  • And we can’t wait to see what 2025 will bring.

Sources



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