For almost 60 years, the Super Bowl has drawn massive audience. It has served as a cultural event discussed by both football fans and non-football fans alike. From the sometimes-controversial half-time shows to the actual games themselves, people still talk about Super Bowl moments from years past. One iconic part of every Super Bowl experience is the commercials. Because Super Bowl ad spots often cost millions of dollars and have the potential to be shown to millions of people, advertisers pull out all the stops. They create some of the funniest, most heartwarming, and most influential ads in television’s history. In this post, we’re going to look at 5 memorable Super Bowl ads and what we can learn from them.
1. 1984 – Apple
In 1984, Apple made a bold move. They advertised their new personal computers with this movie-like ad directed by Blade Runner director Ridley Scott. Apple does some unique things with this ad. They do not showcase the product they are advertising—they merely mention the name of it. Apple does not highlight any features or special deals. They rely entirely on the perception people will get from the connection to 1984. And, in what would probably come as a surprise to the board of Apple’s directors (who initially hated the commercial), they would succeed in attracting attention and creating buzz around Apple’s new Macintosh computers.
2. Bud Bowl I – Anheuser-Busch
Okay, so, this is technically a campaign and not a single advertisement, but Bud Bowl I is still worth looking at. Anheuser-Busch (who we’ve written about before) launched their new light beer, Bud Light, in 1989. They created an on-going campaign that started before the Super Bowl and continued through it. The ads themselves are a little silly, but they do a good job of introducing Bud Light while capitalizing on the popularity of Budweiser.
3. Hare Jordan – Nike
The 1990s are full of fun, family-friendly advertising, and this 1993 ad is no exception. Basketball legend Michael Jordan teams up with cartoon legend Bugs Bunny for an ad showcasing the Nike Air Jordans. Nike would go on to make more commercials featuring this part-animated, part-live action duo for the next few years. And this campaign would serve as inspiration for the 1996 hit movie Space Jam.
4. Parisian Love – Google
In this simple, touching ad, Google tells a beautiful love story between a man and a woman who meet in Paris. Google has used similar formats for commercials since, but this 2009 ad was a huge hit. It’s still one of many people’s favorite Super Bowl commercials to this day. With simple search screenshots, some light music, and a few ambient background noises, Google is able to connect with all of us on a deep level. They inspire us to go through life, searching on when we need a little extra help.
5. #LikeAGirl – Always
In 2015, Always took to the Super Bowl to launch an ad campaign that sought to do more than just sell a product. After finding research that shows most girls exhibit a dip in confidence after reaching puberty, they wanted to spark conversation about what it means to do something “like a girl.” This ad is fairly simple, but it does a good job showcasing the misconceptions that grow with age. Always was able to make a powerful and thought-provoking statement.
What can we learn?
While all of these ads take different approaches, they each garnered success and admiration when they were shown. From humorous games to touching stories to bold statements about society, all 5 ads have cemented their place in Super Bowl commercial history.
Apple shows us that we don’t necessarily have to show the product we’re advertising to successfully advertise it. While a somewhat risky move, other companies would go on to copy this particular idea and, when the commercials are impactful enough in their messaging, have found success in doing so.
Anheuser-Busch shows us the power of leveraging existing popularity. By showcasing their new product alongside an already well-liked product, they were able to capitalize on the Budweiser brand to build recognition for Bud Light, too. If you have a popular product and are looking to introduce an additional, related product, you may be able to use that first product’s name to give credence to the new one.
Nike shows us that it’s important to have fun. While small businesses may not be able to license big names like Michael Jordan or Bugs Bunny, we can still see the impact a well-known figure can have. Local celebrities may make for good advertising partners.
Google shows us the power of connecting through stories. They also show us that simplicity breeds creativity, and together, those are a powerful combination. And, finally, Always shows us that supporting a cause that supports your customers is sometimes more important than selling to those customers.
Contact Bold River Marketing for help.
If you’re looking to promote your small business through commercials, social media, a website, or other marketing channels, Bold River Marketing can help. Our team will work with you to promote your business and grow your audience so you can do more of what you love. Contact us today to get started.