They are, on average, thirty seconds long. But every year, companies vie for those coveted spots. Over time, the cost of a Super Bowl advertisement has skyrocketed.

In 2018, businesses paid $5 million for a thirty-second ad. In 2020, pegged the cost of a single Super Bowl ad at $5.6 million.

Why are they prepared to shell out this money? Over a hundred and eleven million Americans watched the big game in 2018. The year was not unique. The Super Bowl represents 19 of the 20 most-watched TV broadcasts in American viewing history.

best super bowl advertisements

Do Super Bowl viewers even watch the ads?

Although DVR has made it possible to flash by ads, most fans watch the Super Bowl live. With live TV, most game watchers use commercial breaks to load up on Super Bowl snacks. However, according to an SI Wire survey almost 18% tune in to the glitzy advertisements.

It’s also been proven that Super Bowl commercials are viewed and shared via YouTube for quite some time after the actual game.

Super Bowl ads are a unique form of entertainment.

While most businesses cannot afford Super Bowl ads, they can learn valuable marketing lessons from the best super bowl advertisements.

What Makes the Best Super Bowl Advertisements?

According to Dan Grange of the Los Angeles ad agency Oxford Road’s seventy-one-measurement scoring system, several components must be assessed. These include things like:

  • Commercial set-up
  • Theme
  • Moral
  • Proposition
  • Intent
  • Positioning
  • Execution.

Forbes magazine notes Super Bowl broadcasting is the time when businesses get the most extensive viewership. Compare other highly-watched events like game seven of the World Series where commercials cost half a million and the 2016 Oscars where advertisements could be bought for $2 million.

A cardinal rule of a Super Bowl ad is that it convinces viewers to buy their product or increases brand recognition. Other traits that make an ad effective are its entertainment value and its likeability.

The Most Memorable Super Bowl Ads

In 2011, Chrysler paid $12.4 million for an advertisement that saw famed rapper Eminem driving a Chrysler 200 around Detroit. This ad is the most expensive in Super Bowl history. However, it increased the brand of the automobile manufacturer and the city of Detroit. Car sales grew by half and the Motor City became a renewed tourist destination.

Other memorable ads include Budweiser’s “Joust” commercial featuring Bud Knight and his medieval royal subjects who shout, “Dilly Dilly” when offered beer.

Microsoft’s “We All Win” highlights the story of their efforts to help mobility challenged individuals by launching an adaptive video game controller. The ad that shows the challenged children using Microsoft’s new adaptive video game controller gets high marks for both emotion and civic responsibility. The ad encourages clients to buy from a company that proves it cares about its customers.

Awards go to the Tide ad of 2018. The storyline has nothing to do with the detergent. However, the actors sport very clean clothes. At the end of the plot, the voice-over says, “It’s just another Tide Ad.”

Newcastle, a popular beer, launched a call to encourage brands to pool resources for one big ad. It tells the tale of a couple celebrating their new home with Newcastle beer. Their walk through the new house features other brand logos among paintings and family photos. Featured in their unpacking are appliances and entertainment devices.

The 2010 ad, “Keep Your Hands off My Doritos” tells the funny story of a narcissistic man meeting his new girlfriend’s son. The kid warns his mother’s suitor: “Keep your hands off of my momma. Keep your hands off of my Doritos!” The ad is hilarious and relatable. The catchphrase is repeatable.

In 1999, Budweiser’s award-winning commercial focuses on a man answering the phone while watching a big game. His friend asks, “Wassup?” The man responds, “Nothing. Just watchin’ the game and drinkin’ a Bud.” The man’s roommate walks in and yells, “WASSSSUPPPPP?” The phrase echoed among game-watching beer drinkers for a decade.

Pepsi’s 1996 commercial to the tune of Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” depicts a Coke delivery guy helping himself to a Pepsi. The moral: Even Coca-Cola employees love Pepsi.

Apple’s 1984 ad pays tribute to Orwell’s 1984. Men are marching in straight lines. On a giant screen, the leader tells them, “We are one people, with one whim, one resolve, and one cause.” A woman wearing bright clothing and wielding a hammer explodes the screen. The ad concludes with an announcement of the Macintosh computer. The ad is a tip of the hat to Apple’s innovative ideas.

Apple’s ability to think outside the box is mirrored in Volvo’s 2015 Super Bowl ad that one-upped its competitor by giving away a car.

One of our all-time favorites is Coca Cola’s 1971 ad that features Italian hills as the backdrop of the young adults from several countries singing, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” The ad demonstrated the relatability of millions of people around the globe who enjoy Coca-Cola. The ad embraces both diversity and world peace.

Slated to be a crowd-pleaser in the 2021 Super Bowl, the Doritos ad features Old Town Road rapper Lil Nas X.

super bowl commercials

How Can Your Company Create a Memorable Advertisement?

If you check out the best Super Bowl advertisements through the decades, you will discover that they have some common features.

These advertisements tug at your heartstrings. They leave you feeling happy, sad, proud, optimistic, or hopeful. Their storylines build a lasting emotion. They make you laugh or cry. They create nostalgia.

Some of the most memorable ads acknowledged popular literature, music, or culture. Their story weaves through the life and times of America. Using the most effective technology available at the time, memorable ads help viewers relate to what is going on in the world around them.

The ads with the most appeal are ones to which viewers can relate. People celebrate family occasions. Children conquer a handicap. A boy protects his mom. People reach out to their aging relatives. Viewers know what it feels like to walk in their shoes.

We can’t all afford multimillion-dollar ads.

However, the best Super Bowl advertisements have valuable lessons.

Whether you choose to build brand recognition through TV ads, radio spots, magazine ads, or outdoor advertising, you can learn effective marketing strategies from Super Bowl ads.