The Super Bowl special

It’s nearly time for another Super Bowl, the most watched sporting event in the US. However, many of the viewers this Sunday evening won’t be tuning in to watch hefty linebackers make bone-crunching tackles on the opposition.

For many Americans, and indeed international fans of the event, the Super Bowl represents a greater cultural phenomenon - it’s the time of year when the most creative minds in advertising are called upon to use humour, humility, the profound, and the poignant to raise brand awareness for some of the largest companies in the world. Today, Super Bowl ads are legendary. If you have a message you want to get across to America, there's no bigger stage, with a recent average of more than one third of all living Americans tuning in. Here we take a look at some of the stats that back up the hype, alongside our top 5 Super Bowl ads of all time.

Chance to shine

It’s not just the players on show this Sunday who get a chance to make a name for themselves on the big stage. Viewing figures have reached over 100 million in each of the last 8 years, with 103 million Americans watching 'the game’ in 2018. As a result, some of America’s largest corporations relish the opportunity to put forward powerful brand messages and seal their place in advertising history, employing the expertise of the world’s most forward-thinking advertising agencies.

The Super Bowl has surpassed mere sports entertainment, with more than 50 percent of viewers admitting to looking forward the commercials more than game itself. Missing out on the Super Bowl means missing out on all the discussion of the ads, their humour, their controversy, and in many cases their artistic merit, that are sure to be circulating around the office in the following weeks.

Big names, big money

The NFL typically allows one minute and thirty seconds per each of its commercial breaks, with most companies looking at creating one or more the world’s most sought-after 30 second spots on television - the prices of which are eye-watering. In 2011, the most viewed Super Bowl of all time with 111 million viewers, a 30-second ad space cost around $3 million. That’s before you’ve even begun to calculate the production costs of some of these spots. As you can tell, brands do not want to miss out on potentially lucrative brand-awareness opportunities, that if successful, are often shared for years, even decades afterwards across the internet.

With this much money floating around, it’s no surprise to hear that some of the biggest names in showbiz are quite happy to add ‘Super Bowl Commercial’ to their résumé. 2019 sees big hitters such as Zoe Kravitz, Michael Buble, Sarah Jessica-Parker, Serena Williams, Jeff Bridges, and Steve Carell taking to the screens, to name but a few of the typically-large celebrity lineup.

Here are 5 of our favourites:

- ‘1984’, Apple (1984) - The one that started the movement towards more conceptual Super Bowl ads, the tech giants employed the sci-fi hand of legendary director Ridley Scott to create what became arguably the first ‘viral video’. A homage to George Orwell’s 1984, and without a glint of irony - considering how invasive technology has become since that time!

- ‘Terry Tate: Office Linebacker’, Reebok (2003) - This series of hilarious ads was so successful after its Super Bowl airing in 2003, Reebok felt obliged to keep the surprisingly-engaging narrative running for years after in other ad campaigns.

- ‘The Force’, Volkswagen (2011) - With not a word spoken in the entire video, this heartwarming ad managed to resonate not only with Star Wars fans, but with everyone with a nostalgia for the joys and innocence of children's’ imaginations.

- ‘#LikeAGirl’, Always (2014) - An incredibly powerful advert, making the actors involved, and indeed the viewers question the stereotypes that are locked away in our public consciousness. Would have also made a standalone powerful sociological documentary!

- ‘Alexa Loses Her voice’, Amazon (2018) - This series hit the spot as short Super Bowl adverts go. Simple, funny, and probably pretty pricey once they’d lined up all those celebrities to take part.

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