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The Super Bowl of Advertisements

Since the days of Mean Joe Greene starring in commercials for Coca-Cola, the Super Bowl has been the beacon of television advertisements. With the emergence of football as a big part of American culture, the ratings for the Super Bowl have become higher than that of any other television programming in America. The last year the average audience didn’t increase was 2005. The last four Super Bowls have been the most watched TV shows in U.S. history. Because of this gargantuan audience (that skews to be more affluent than the average American), the price for a 30 second spot hit $4 million dollars for the first time this year. Advertisers bring their A-game to their Super Bowl spots every year because of the high price. I am personally more interested in non-traditional ads than the 30-second clips during commercial breaks. Thus, I am going to break down some of the changes in the advertising world that I believe can be seen through Super Bowl advertisements.


For those of you who don’t remember, the 2013 Super Bowl featured a blackout that went on for a number of minutes. During said blackout, Oreo posted a tweet that got more than 15,000 retweets and 20,000 Facebook likes. They had more publicity than any other advertiser during the game, yet they didn’t pay anything for it. Oreo was able to achieve such success because their branding agency, 360i, had a “social media war room” set up during the event. They knew that there could be potential for a moment when an Oreo advertisement would be perfect. They were prepared. They designed the advertisement, got approval from Oreo executives, and posted the tweet within 10 minutes of the lights going out in the Superdome. This year many companies have their advertising agencies in waiting for their own potentially viral advertisements. I predict that at least one company will somehow create a controversy with one of these advertisements by being offensive.


Some companies don’t have the money to spend on Super Bowl advertisements. Some companies don’t think the advertisements are worth the money. Despite this, many of these companies have started using the Super Bowl to promote their products. The best example of such advertising this year has been Newcastle Brown Ale, a British beer company. The main video that has been making rounds on the Internet is the Anna Kendrick: Behind the Scenes of the Mega Huge Game Day Ad Newcastle Almost Made. In the advertisement, Anna Kendrick talks about how she was really excited to make a Super Bowl ad (without mentioning the words Super Bowl), but that Newcastle didn’t have the money so she was pissed. Many of her words are beeped out because of curses and mentions of the Super Bowl. Newcastle already has gotten much more attention than many companies that paid a lot of money will get.

Pre-released Ads

Budweiser has long been the gold standard for Super Bowl advertisements. Year after year the company continues to release a few of the most popular ones. This year seems to be no different, but I can already say this with certainty because Budweiser already released one of its commercials, titled “Puppy Love.” The idea behind the ad is that a puppy from a puppy adoption center keeps escaping and going to play with nearby horses, only to be returned to the adoption center shortly after. Not only has the ad already garnered 33 million views, but also when it appears during the Super Bowl those who have seen it will definitely mention to those who they are watching with “you have to pay attention, it’s so cute!!!” Companies have released ads prior to the game before, but I believe the potential brand awareness taken from the ad goes substantially up when released prior to the game. Familiarity with an advertisement actually helps people want to see it during the Super Bowl, rather than the rest of the year when people are avoiding commercials at all costs.

About Jake Axelrod

Jake attended Northwestern from 2012 to 2016. He majored in Economics and Geography and minored in Business Institutions.

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