An Insider’s Guide to Super Bowl Commercials

People look forward to the Super Bowl every year for two reasons: a love of football and a love of those very expensive, very entertaining commercials that get everyone talking.

Believe me I know all about it. I’ve written the ads, critiqued the ads for major networks and enjoyed the sport of advertising for many years.

It’s true women who aren’t as interested in the game are an important audience, but the core consumer most advertisers are trying to reach are men. And most of them are appealing to the party boy who lives inside these guys.

Top advertisers like Budweiser and Doritos usually major in slapstick—silly or outrageous humor—as this is what gets people talking and tweeting.

Every once in a while, an emotionally engaging ad will emerge, but it’s mostly just a laugh fest and advertisers realize that the later in the game they buy ads, the more alcohol their target audience will have consumed. Advertisers also realize visual humor works better in these ads, as the commercials can get a little hard to hear once those parties get started.

Back in the 90s, I was lucky enough to work with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird on a McDonald’s commercial called “Showdown.” The two played for a Big Mac and ended up shooting hoops from the top of the Hancock building. The term “Nothin’ but net” actually became famous after this ad ran, and the amount of PR and word of mouth generated was well worth the cost. McDonald’s was also smart enough to introduce a Michael Jordan burger right after the ad ran in the Super Bowl, and as you might guess, it was wildly successful.

So the debate continues. Is it worth it? Is it worth millions of dollars to place an ad in the Super Bowl? If you are creative enough to produce something so memorable that people still talk about it 15 years later, then yes, by all means it’s worth it.

Here are some of our favorite Super Bowl Ads:

Larry Bird Vs. Michael Jordan:

Budwiser Superbowl XL–Clydesdales and Streaker:

Etrade, 1999–monkey performing–we just wasted $2 million what about you?

And don’t forget the halftime show!

This year it’s The Black Eyed Peas. Finally, not a geriatric rocker. We’re hoping for some sparks.

After the big game, send us a comment and tell us your favorite super bowl ads and whether or not the NFL made the right decision to “Boom, Boom, Pow.” / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo courtesy of Birzer at Creative Commons on Flickr.