Super Bowl LII has arrived! The biggest game of the NFL season will be played this Sunday when current champions New England Patriots will defend their crown against the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. This will be the third Super Bowl appearance for the Eagles and a chance to avenge the 2004 loss against the Pats and win their first trophy. On the other side, the Patriots will want to add their 6th ring (equalling the Steelers) in a record 10th appearance on the big game.
But while Tom Brady will square off with Nick Foles on the field, another battle will be played on the screens: Super Bowl is the big night for the advertisement industry! So much so that sometimes is easier to remember what ad appeared in a given year than who won the title. With an expected audience of about 111 million US viewers, the game is a prime tv moment that brands don’t want to miss out on.
With a price tag of about 5 million dollars for a 30-second spot, brands pay a premium to be a part of the show. While a celebration of the football season, the Super Bowl evolved long ago to be a cultural phenomenon that stretches beyond the playing field. The game and the ads are pre-viewed and discussed extensively for weeks, creating the kind of buzz that advertisers would pay an arm and a league to get.
To honour that rich cultural heritage, we decided to highlight 7 iconic advertising moments in Super Bowl history:
1. Apple – “1984”
Probably the most iconic Super Bowl ad, and the one that set the rules that other ads have to follow: if you’re going to the big game, you have to go big! Directed by Ridley Scott, the ad was aired only once and positioned Apple as the rebel that fought a thought-oppressive regime with a clear allusion to George Orwell “1984” novel. The impact was so strong that it’s still talked more than 30 years after it was aired.
2. Pepsi – “Cindy Crawford”
No one symbolizes sexuality at the start of the ‘90s than supermodel Cindy Crawford. She was pretty, she was elegant, she was sexy. Pepsi decided to bet on Crawford looks to be the face of its 1992 Super Bowl ad in which it introduced the new Pepsi can image. The ad surprised and delighted viewers so much that Crawford is returning to star on this year Pepsi Super Bowl ad 25 years after the first appearance.
3. Budweiser – “Whassup?”
Who doesn’t recall the “Whassup?” ad? There was a time at the turn of the century that the catchphrase was echoed all over the world. Talk about making an impact. A funny commercial that focused more on the cultural phenomenon than on the product itself – although Budweiser bottles where always present – that quickly entertained the audience. Simple, completely against the ad rules, but effective.
4. Budweiser – “Respect”
While Budweiser may stray a little on its Super Bowl ads (see nominee number 3), the Anheuser-Busch company for delivering heartwarming ad content that prominently features the Clydesdale horses that are part of the brand image. After the 2011 attack on the Twin Towers of New York City, Budweiser delivered one of the most impactful ads in the SB history with a salute to the victims of terrorism.
5. Old Spice – “The man your man could smell like”
Bizarre. Interactive. Comic. Three words that describe powerful and long-lasting imaging that etch themselves in our memory and lead us to share them with the world. Three words that perfectly describe this Old Spice ad that ad a strong cultural impact and brought the brand to mainstream attention.
6. Volkswagen – “The Force”
In 2012 Volkswagen invited us to follow the struggle of a young Sith Lord wannabe to master the force. After a few failed attempts, finally, a glimpse of its power is shown with a little help of the new Passat. Simple and entertaining storytelling. The brand also was the first to preview its Super Bowl ad online a week before the game; a practice that has become widespread.
7. Chrysler – “Halftime in America”
Ads can be informative, ads can be entertaining, but ads can also be motivating. In 2012, with the US – and the World – still struggling with an economic crisis, Chrysler delivered a powerful and uplifting speech about the hard work of American families that were getting up and fight to overcome the odds. The fact that the speech was masterfully spoken by the embodiment of resilience that is Clint Eastwood, was the perfect finishing point to the ad.
This Sunday the focus will be as much on what happens on the field, as well as how brands will play their game on the big screens. Make your bets because we’ll be following the game and analyse the ads and let you know all about it next week.