The real deal with Super Bowl isn’t football

Author: Leon Jacobs - Executive creative director at Emakina

All I know about American football, besides the hip thrusting antics of Hingle McCringleberry, is that once a year it culminates in something called the Super Bowl. Two teams of athletes play a game that is impossible to understand for anyone who lives in a country that uses the metric system. At the same time, the Super Bowl is the stage for one of the biggest creative showcases on Earth.

That’s because every Super Bowl attracts a television audience measuring in the hundreds of millions. And this means that every advertiser wants the opportunity to be in front of all these eye balls.

And since Apple’s iconic 1984 ad, which was so expensive to produce it only flighted once during the Super Bowl, a tradition has started where advertisers try to outdo one another with their creativity.

1984 Apple’s Macintosh commercial

In short, Super Bowl is two competitions in one. Dudes in tights and shoulder pads running after an egg-shaped ball, and creatives in agencies running after the best LOL.

And the creative contest has delivered some seriously brilliant touchdowns. Who can forget the other timeless Apple film, that relaunched the Apple brand with the unparalleled line ‘Think Different’.

Apple’s Think Different ad

There has been the absurd.

Monster.com’s ad

The funny.

Outpost.com tattoo commercial
Avocados From Mexico – Secret Society

And a fair share of celebrity endorsements.

Drake State Farm Super Bowl LV Commercial
Betty White Snickers
Chrysler ‘Imported From Detroit’

And there has also been a wave of agencies having fun with the actual genre itself.

For the 2018 Super Bowl, P&G’s Tide brand produced this brilliant Super Bowl intervention:

Tide – “Its a Tide Ad”

And in this film for E-trade, the agency actually also took a long sly and expensive wink at the audience:

E-Trade – We just wasted two million dollars

In some way, the great advertising that has become integral to the event has become an event in itself. It’s difficult to say how many of the millions who tune in every year for the Super Bowl, come there for the football, or for the ads.

And if they are coming for the ads, doesn’t that present a mind-blowing truth about advertising itself? Which is, people like good ads. People like to be entertained by advertising.

We are living in an era of advertising where ad tech is evolving to the point where it’s using sophisticated algorithms to seek out consumers who are literally trying to hide from advertising.

But if there is anything to learn from Super Bowl, it’s this: if you invest in great creative that is designed to touch the hearts and minds of people, you don’t have to find sneaky ways to target people.

They might just come to find you. And that’s all you need to know about Super Bowl.

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