Super Bowl Ads: What Can We Expect This Year?

Super Bowl LI is only a few days away, and fans have already been excited for quite some time.  Whether their favorite team made it all the way or not, football fans and even those less interested will be tuning in for one of the biggest television broadcasts of the entire year.  With Super Bowl 50 having been the third most watched Super Bowl in history, there is sure to be a vast audience glued to their television screens this year.

Over the years, the Super Bowl has grown into a time for other focuses as well.  For many, it is getting to see the famous ads that everybody raves about on social media, sometimes weeks before they are even broadcast on television.  Some people even watch the Super Bowl primarily for the ads.  Although most people see them only as a source of entertainment, a select few do use them as a means of discovering new products.  According to MarketingCharts, 78.6 percent of men and 80.4 percent of women seeing them as purely entertainment, this leaves a small margin of viewers who actually seek to discover new products, and yet others who see them only as an annoyance, causing the game to last too long.

Exactly how much money?

Every year, an individual brand will dish out around $5 million for a short, 30-second spot on television during the Super Bowl.  This usually proves to pay for itself, as companies such as Wix.com report having increases in expected revenue as high as $4 million.  The 2016 Super Bowl proved to be a significant one, which we can use to predict how things will go for companies this year.  Undoubtedly, they used the statistics to determine what kind of ad to make and how to approach it–much depending on the demographic they aim to reach.  By far the ad that came out on top last year was Doritos’ “No Dogs Allowed,” which was shared over 900,000 times on social media the day after the game.  The fact that Super Bowl venues have begun including Wifi likely didn’t hurt the number of social media posts that we saw during the game last year, with over 10.15 TB of data transferred over the network.  Surprisingly, this was one of the few ads that year which used the “cute animals” theme, which has proven to be popular in past Super Bowl ads, and TV ads in general.  Doritos also came out on top for the most emotionally engaging ad for “Ultrasound,” which resonated much more highly with women than with men.  Avocados from Mexico ranked next, with the #Avosinspace hashtag racking up over 50,000 tweets.  However, it should be kept in mind that this was also premiered before the Super Bowl even aired.

Super Bowl 50 Hashtag Usage

Ads in 2016 showed some pretty significant trends.  Humor was less popular than previous years, but the times it was used had very different effects on audience members.  Although humor seemed to work pretty well for Heinz’ “Meet the Ketchups” ad, it didn’t go over quite as well for Mountain Dew’s “Puppymonkeybaby.”  Undoubtedly, “Puppymonkybaby” was talked about after it aired, but not for the same reasons as Heinz’ ad, with “Puppymonkeybaby” actually having a somewhat negative impact on those over the age of 55.  2016 saw less ads that attempted to use the “cute baby/animal” “or “sex appeal” approach to them, with emotionally-charged themes proving to be a good choice for a number of brands.  Budweiser’s #GiveaDamn is a great example of this, talking about the dangers of drunk driving and combining it with humor resulted in a very positive impact in its number of shares on social media.  Helen Mirren’s appearance and infamous blunt personality probably didn’t hurt anything, either, proving the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement.

Super Bowl LI

2017 is sure to be another memorable year for Super Bowl ads, especially since the cost of one has more than doubled since 2010.  Budweiser will take a daring approach that was definitely not seen in such a way last year.  “Born the Hard Way” has already debuted, with a political theme on immigration, very relevant to what is going on in America at the moment,  In this ad, a German immigrant to America is told that he is not wanted here.  Although this does not touch on the currently-affected countries involved in the immigration ban, it is a side-eye towards America’s government and new president, which is sure to get strong reactions on both sides.  We can only wait and see what this will do for Budweiser’s sales, or if it will result in a “boycott” as many other companies have been seeing in the wake of the new presidency.

As promised, Wix.com will return again, incorporating Kung-Fu Panda into their advertisement.  As mentioned before, this type of “cute” theme was not utilized so much in the past year, and we will have to see if this one generates as much revenue for Wix.com as their ad last year did for them.  A surprising addition to the lineup includes Skittles, which has also been pre-released.  Despite the name, it is humorous with just a touch of romance, remaining tride and true to their typical “Taste the Rainbow” television ads.

In a word, we can definitely expect with the amount of things going on in our country right now that there will be more companies than just Budweiser incorporating political ideals into their Super Bowl ads, taking the opportunity not only as a way to promote their product, but where they stand on the issues as well.  With many ads in the past taking the opportunity to create themes that touch on the hearts of their viewers, we can only expect that inclusion and coming together will be a theme as well.  With the Rio ad already released, we have seen a taste of common topics, with emotional themes making another appearance.  Humor has worked well in the past, and it is likely that viewers are expecting to see more of these accompanying the Super Bowl, a somewhat lighthearted event, than the more serious tones.

Will any unaired ads surprise us with their themes this year, and will they affect product sales?  Time will tell, and with Super Bowl LI quickly approaching, we won’t have to wait long to find out.


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About the Author

Thomas Hobson

Partner – VP of Sales