Super Bowl Ads: Is It Worth It?

Just before kickoff, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels solemnly predicted Sunday’s big game would be a “chess match.” In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, after the Seahawks effectively handed the championship over to the Patriots thanks to what both fans and analysts alike are calling “the dumbest call in the history of the Super Bowl,” an all-out brawl broke out as players from both teams did their best to beat the snot out of each other. Earlier mayhem on the field included singer Katy Perry’s jaw-dropping halftime show, which featured a giant tiger, dancing sharks, and a near show-stealing appearance by Missy Elliot. Considering the dizzying range of all of this meme-worthy content, and the fact that the number of people who tuned in to last year’s Super Bowl was a record 111.5 million, NBC’s $4.5 million dollar price tag for a single 30-second Super Bowl ad doesn’t seem all that unreasonable. (That amounts to a whopping $150,000 per second.)

Is It Worth It?

But, as Misdemeanor rapped during halftime, “Is it worth it?” Well, yes. But the ROI expectations for ads created to run during the Super Bowl are different the ads that you’ll see while staring at a rerun of Law & Order. Businesses use the platform and sheer number of viewer eyeballs (this year drew the highest overnight ratings in Super Bowl history) as an opportunity and means to tackle goals other than the sale of products and services.

Super Bowl XLIX televised ads that seemed to be part of a larger campaign of “damage control” for brands dealing with declining sales and public relations disasters. McDonald’s, a name now synonymous with “pink slime” and “ammonia,” ran two earnest Super Bowl ads, a part one and a part two, to explain how randomly-selected customers will be able to pay for meals by publicly displaying various expressions of “lovin’” before the chain’s seriously underpaid and under-insured cashiers. Apparently, nobody on team Golden Arches thought the directive “Call up your mother, tell her you love her… ” might not go down well with a customer whose mom is, well, dead. (Interestingly, Mickey D’s current Twitter campaign, though much more complicated, seems to be doing okay.)

A Super Bowl ad is also an ideal way to reboot your brand. In the past, Chrysler has created some powerful, though often parodied ads for the Super Bowl as part of a long-term campaign to increase its car sales. In the three years after airing 2012’s “Halftime in America” spot, starring an unintentionally hilarious Clint “Get off of my lawn!” Eastwood, the car company’s sales increased by 54%. Kudos this year should go to Fiat’s “Blue Pill” Super Bowl commercial, one of the most enjoyable examples of humorous video storytelling we saw. (Now that their merger with Chrysler is complete, I guess we’ll have to see how Fiat sales go this year.)

Lost Dog, Machete Marsha, and Sensitive Dads

So which ads resonated with American viewers, or at least inspired them to click a “like” button in between plays? According to, the top three viewer-rated 2015 Super Bowl ads were:

Budweiser: “Lost Dog.”

Go Daddy learned the hard way that dog owners are especially sensitive when it comes to the welfare of pooches across the country. This mini-epic’s penultimate scene features a cute, hapless puppy facing down a demonic-looking wolf with the help of several Clydesdale horses. Now what exactly this scenario has to do with what is a pretty ordinary-tasting beer is a mystery, even to the experts at Signet Interactive, but viewers across the country absolutely loved this ad. (I can’t tell you how many times today I’ve heard, “I loved the ad with the puppy!”)

Snickers: “The Brady Bunch” starring Danny Trejo as Marsha Brady

70-year-old star of the ultra-violent Machete franchise Danny Trejo takes on the role he was born to play – Marsha Brady from The Brady Bunch. Trejo pulls from the Betty White playbook in this ad for Snickers’ successful “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign. We’ll save the analysis of why The Brady Bunch, which aired in the 1970s, has maintained an ironic sort of relevance in popular culture for another blog, except to say that Trejo admits he had a crush on Carol Brady back in the day.

Dove: “Real Strength”

… And the pretend-actor-children-with-their-pretend-sensitive-actor-daddy’s category award goes to… Dove! This ad seems to be part of a larger effort of the part of several brands, including the NFL, to confront accusations of insensitivity, sexism, and homophobia, and speak to male viewers as if they were happily changing nappies during the big game instead of knocking down beers and yelling at their wives to bring them more Pizza Rolls. Hey, it seems to have worked. Dove was just one of more than a few brands who played the emo card this year.

Video Storytelling Experts

So, is it worth it? Yep. Visual storytelling is key to building and engaging your brands' audience, but it should be done with care as well as creativity. While the current mantra among advertisers is most definitely, “There are no rules!” the fact is, a great amount of thought, planning and imagination goes into effective marketing and advertising initiatives.

Looking to explore your options when it comes to digital marketing, including video storytelling? Contact the experts at Signet Interactive.

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