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5 of My Favorite Super Bowl Commercials & Marketing 101

If you ask me, this is a great time of year to be a marketer.  The countdown to the Super Bowl XLIX is in full swing.  The best of the best are getting ready to showcase their talent on the field.  And the best of the best in the marketing industry are ready to see what they can do off the field.  It’s one of those rare times when it seems the whole world is actually paying attention to commercials and marketing campaigns in general.  This means it’s the perfect opportunity for digital marketers and small business owners to take note of the strategies used by the big boys and taking note of how people react.

Today, I’m here to give you a break from all this #Deflategate chatter (we all need it) to share some of my favorite Super Bowl commercials from previous years and offer some Marketing 101 reminders that we often overlook.  So without further ado, let’s stop talking about air pressure in footballs and start looking at some fun commercials…

Original Budweiser Frogs Commercial

We have to go all the way back to 1995 for this commercial, yet I still remember it like it was yesterday.  This ad is great because it is incredibly simple.  Three frogs sounding out Bud-weis-er and that’s it.  As marketers we often times try to say too much when something as simple as this will do the trick.  There’s nothing about how great Budweiser beer tastes.  Heck, you don’t even see the Budwesier logo until the end.  But the goal of name recognition and branding is absolutely achieved.

The Force: Volkswagen Commercial

Kids, pets, cool parents and Star Wars come together for a funny commercial.  What’s not to love about this one?  The use of the Star Wars music is perfect. The whole concept of using the Force and capturing imagination is something every kid and parent can relate to.  By the end of the commercial, not much even needs to be said about the Volkswagen 2012 Passat because the audience has been captured and the message is clear.

Pepsi- Coke Guy Caught on Camera

How about this gem from Pepsi back in 1996?  The Coke guy is restocking some cans and can’t help but reach for a Pepsi in the cooler next to him.  Next thing you know Pepsi cans fall all over the floor and he’s caught.  It’s an ad that includes a direct competitor but does so without any words and in a humorous way.  This one still makes me chuckle nearly 20 years later.

Budweiser Wassup

Just watching the game, having a Bud.  One thing is for sure, Budweiser puts out some great Super Bowl ads and this one is another classic.  Once again, simple, funny and effective.  Here there’s some more branding and product placement going on, but in a natural and unforced way.

Doritos Crash The Super Bowl Contest


There have been too many great Super Bowl ads from Doritos throughout the years to pick just one.  The main thing to observe here from a marketing strategy standpoint is the way that Doritos empowers its audience through the use of social media to create the Super Bowl commercial and then rely on votes to pick the winner.  It’s a brilliant marketing move that has been going on for 8 years now.  The winner this year gets 1 million dollars, a job with Universal Studios and gets to see their ad during the Super Bowl.  How’s that for some nice incentive!  View the 10 finalists and vote here.

Super Bowl Commercials – A Marketing 101 Reminder

In a lot of ways, I feel like Super Bowl commercials remind all marketers of some basic lessons that we often overlook…

  1. It’s less about the product and more about the story
  2. Simple is always better
  3. People just want to be entertained
  4. Babies, pets, & sex sell

If you look at Super Bowl ads as a collective whole, the most memorable ads are incredibly simple.  There’s very little, if any dialogue or narration in a lot of them.  Many don’t even mention the product until the end and for maybe 1 second.  ALL of them are entertaining and most of the time humor is involved.  Including babies, animals and sex (if appropriate) in marketing still and always will work (Danica & GoDaddy).

Final Thoughts

Now, several of the commercials I included above were before the social media age we are living in.  The one HUGE THING I would advise to any marketer creating a video/commercial is to think about how that campaign can live beyond just the Super Bowl by creating a new hashtag or encouraging social shares.  With social media listening, marketers can now know immediately how an ad is being perceived, react and interact with their customers instantly.  That’s something that definitely needs to be used to your advantage.

Want to talk Super Bowl Ads or marketing strategy in general?  Contact us today!