Every year, the Super Bowl is the most watched American television broadcast. As a result, the coveted advertising spots have increased in value to an average cost of $4 million for a 30-second spot. Some viewers, who aren’t necessarily football fans, pay attention to the broadcast just to watch the commercials for their creative genius, clever storylines and sense of humor.
Over the past couple decades, Super Bowl commercials have gone from selling a product to becoming the product. Formerly consumers eagerly awaited to view these ads to learn about new products and services, yet since the 21st-century consumer can find out anything he or she needs to know about new products online, most viewers are looking to be dazzled by the entertainment value of the ad rather than the educational value.
That said, it seems that every year, Super Bowl commercials get more and more outrageous. This year, though, commercials were surprisingly subdued and overwhelmingly heartwarming.
One of our collective favorites this year was also one of the most simple. The Doritos commercial was both funny and memorable. It reinforced the brand throughout the 30-second spot while also entertaining. Amazingly, the ad cost only $300 to produce, demonstrating that elaborate graphics and celebrity endorsements don’t necessarily beget the biggest payoff. The photographer of this ad earned $1 million for being selected as the best Super Bowl ad.
But sometimes the celebrity endorsement just works. Take the Honda ad from this year — it was a refreshing reprieve from many of the other car commercials that featured high speeds and winding roads. Featuring Bruce Willis (often expected to be in such dramatic car scenes) and Fred Armisen (who looks like he’d deliver a great hug), the commercial directly delivers the message to the viewer. And who doesn’t like a commercial that encourages affection?
The affectionate and sentimental ads didn’t end there. Unlike a typical Axe commercial, Axe Peace delivered a clear message advocating love over war with an unexpected twist. Similarly, Budweiser’s buzz-worthy “Puppy Love” commercial demonstrated the power of love — and the power of including a puppy in a commercial.
While movie sequels are rarely as riveting as their originals, we were pleased to see another Cheerios commercial featuring the same interracial family as last year. Rather than give in to the criticism the company received, Cheerios decided not only to bring the family back, but to make it grow.
As the discussion surrounding that commercial and others grows and evolves, it’s obvious that Super Bowl ads have become more than mere promotion. They are a way to chart the changes in Americans’ values and perceptions. Between the humor, the love, and the creativity, if this year is any indication, we’ve certainly come a long way.