With Super Bowl Sunday coming up on February 13th, we at Riverworks Marketing are especially looking forward to the best ads America has to offer. For many people, Super Bowl commercials are the sole reason they watch the game, and businesses have every incentive to bring their A-game. 

To place your advertisement in the Super Bowl LVI line-up costs approximately six million dollars, and that’s not including the cost of creating your video (celebrities don’t work for free). The heavy price reaches around 150 million potential customers, and with an investment that large, companies need the most attention-grabbing ad they can produce. In our opinion, these are the factors that make the best Super Bowl ads.

I know that face!

Celebrities are a common sight at the Super Bowl, and not just during the halftime show. Recently an excellent example was Bryan Cranston in Mountain Dew’s parody of The Shining. Celebrities are familiar and comforting on our television, and to fans of Malcolm in the Middle or Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston is an old friend. That friend holding a Mountain Dew implies that the drink is comforting too. Brittney Spears in Pepsi’s “Now and Then” commercial during the height of her popularity achieved the same effect.

Some companies will book an entire star-studded cast. Mercedes Benz’s commercial led by William “Willem” Defoe as the prince of darkness had guest appearances by many other celebrities. Amazon’s ad in which Alexa lost her voice starred the world’s richest man (granted he is their CEO). Some Super Bowl commercials even pay for a fictional celebrity to star in their clip. Volkswagen paid for none other than Darth Vader to be the main character of their 2016 Super Bowl ad.

What on Earth was that?!

Some commercials decide to distinguish themselves more oddly. Weird ads get stuck in people’s heads and sell the product in no way other than mentioning it. The hope is that the commercial will linger with potential customers, leading to conversations like, “Hey, did you see that PuppyMonkeyBaby commercial?”

An excellent example is a Skittles ad in which a bag of candy is traded for a singing rabbit. This situation will probably not happen to most customers, but its oddness makes it memorable. Bud Light’s magic fridge commercial, in a similar fashion, is goofy and provides a laugh. People will voluntarily watch it again for that chuckle. Tide even booked David Harbour for a commercial that exclusively parodied other Super Bowl commercials, hardly ever mentioning the benefits of Tide.

That brought a tear to my eye.

 

But not all ads need a laugh to be considered a win. By pulling our heartstrings or making us reflect, commercials can be just as memorable. The famous 1984 ad by Apple is an example of an unfunny commercial that is still discussed almost forty years later. Jeep’s ad about “the middle” is two whole minutes long and holds customers’ attention without a single joke.

Budweiser is famous for doing this with animals. First, they showcased a calf and horse with their fence commercial, then years later they did it again with a puppy and another horse. Baby animals and horses have little to do with Budweiser, but humans love to see them. Budweiser benefits from being in the background while we look. Google managed to bring a tear to our eye just by showing photos in their commercial focusing on a dearly departed wife. Again, the feelings have nothing to do with an internet search engine, but by association, Google stays in our mind along with the story.

Emotions make memories.

At the core of all of these memorable commercials are the feelings they brought us. Whether they made us laugh, cry, feel comforted, disgusted, nostalgic or hopeful, that emotion will linger, and with it, the brand. “Remember that Google ad? What was that famous Apple ad? Skittles always has such weird ads.” Even if the company is hardly involved, it gets its name in our memory. We look forward to seeing what memories Super Bowl LVI makes.