The Best and Worst of Super Bowl Commercials

Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 30 January 2014

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This Sunday, February 2, 2014, is one of the most exciting days for sports fans all across the country: The Super Bowl.  Every year, the Super Bowl captures the biggest TV audience as viewers watch two NFL teams fight it out for the championship title.  Interestingly, a large percentage of this audience has a greater interest in the commercial breaks.  The Super Bowl time slot is known for having the best commercials of the entire year.  With such a large viewership, companies fight for a slot to promote their brand.  These various companies are willing to pay millions of dollars for only 30 seconds of air time!  With a large audience, expensive airtime, and an unbelievable opportunity for brand engagement, companies put their best foot forward to create some of the best commercials possible.  While many brands hit the nail on the head with stunning commercials, many also seem to miss the mark.  Here are some examples of the best and worst of Super Bowl commercials:

Audi – The Chase (2009)

 During the 2009 Super Bowl, Audi produced a fun, engaging action commercial that left an impression in the minds of many.  Audi creates a story, bringing you through the progression of automobiles.  The commercial keeps the audience engaged and wondering what will happen next.  With intense action scenes, Audi is able to promote the functionality of its newest vehicle.  This commercial, which shows a progression of vehicles over time, goes hand-and-hand with the Audi tagline during that time: “Progress through Technology.”  During this fun commercial, the viewer becomes emotionally invested in the main character and the brand.

Groupon- Tibet (2011)

Nothing is worse in a commercial than leaving your audience confused; and that is just what Groupon did in their 2011 Super Bowl commercial.  The ad was offensive to some, and even for those who were not overly offended Groupon left its audience dissatisfied and wanting more.  No brand message or identity was well articulated in this commercial; Groupon really missed the mark here.

Coca-Cola- Mean Joe Greene (1979)

This commercial is one of the best and most well-known Super Bowl commercials of all time.  Joe Greene, one of the best NFL defensemen, was known for his hard exterior.  Seeing him vulnerable in this commercial was not only ironic, but comical.  Coca-Cola built a storyline and emotional (heartfelt) connection with their viewers while tying in their brand message and identity.  This commercial is definitely top-notch!

Chevy- Apocalypse (2012)

Although this commercial seemed to have a big production, it fell short of being captivating, leaving viewers extremely underwhelmed.  Lack of excitement, a poor plot line, and zero connection, this seemed to be a very ordinary and boring commercial…definitely not Super Bowl worthy!  Although Chevy did get their brand message across, the lack of connection made it quite lackluster and forgettable.

With so many viewers and such immense pressure to impress, creating commercials for the Super Bowl is not an easy task.  A successful commercial will leave a viewer emotionally connected to your brand one way or another.  The best examples are also relatable and universal, allowing brands to reach and connect with a wider audience.  It is also crucial that the plot of the commercial ties into the company’s brand.  A single flaw or poorly executed step can easily ruin an entire commercial.

A Super Bowl commercial is an opportunity for brands to engage with their employees and customers.  When well executed, an engaging commercial can build lifetime brand affinity with an audience.  However, due to the large number of viewers, a poorly executed Super Bowl commercial can be detrimental to the entire brand.  Take these opportunities to learn from the successes and mistakes of others and implement them into your branding strategy. Remember, think smart, be creative, and build a connection with your audience!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!