Many people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the game, and I imagine marketers in particular observe with interest the ads that companies pay millions to air.
I found the best spots were the ones most inclined to spur conversation and laughter.
The Hyundai ad demonstrates this well. It compared the typical car shopping experience to various dreaded events: showing up for a root canal, going to jury duty, getting stuck with a middle seat on an airplane, hearing the birds-and-bees talk from your parents. “Colonoscopy” and “vegan dinner party” were also on the list.
I believe the ad worked because so many people have stories about the experiences referenced. And as we all know, uncomfortable situations often make for hilarious tales in retrospect.
While the Hyundai commercial led people to recall their own stories, the most-discussed NFL ad gave people an enjoyable experience to share.
It started with Marshawn Lynch knocking a football from atop a cake, and comical chaos ensued as defensive players went wide-eyed and responded to the “fumble” and started a game in the middle of a formal dinner.
Like the Hyundai ad, the NFL commercial hit familiar and funny notes — Joe Montana passing up Michael Irvin in favor of throwing to Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders high-stepping, Brian Urlacher taking down a ball carrier (and a table) with a crushing hit, Barry Sanders spinning away from would-be tacklers, Tom Brady taking off his Super Bowl rings and telling Baker Mayfield to hold them after the latter urges, “Get in there, old man.”
My personal favorite was a quip from a seated Emmitt Smith as Barry Sanders and another player blazed by: “Y’all know I have more yards than they do.”
Again, similar to the Hyundai ad, the NFL commercial resonated because it used something familiar as its foundation and made it fun.
An ad that spurred lots of discussion for different reasons was the Bud Light commercial that targeted its competitors for using corn syrup.
The ad definitely got people talking, including Coors Light and Miller Lite, which promptly responded on Twitter. It actually spurred some controversy, with Food & Wine deeming the commercial misleading.
Does the ad come off as a bit shady to people who are more informed about how beer is made? Or are enough people unaware that Bud Light achieves its goal of disparaging the competition?
My guess is the Bud Light folks are confident that the latter is the case and that, even in the event of some blowback, believe that all publicity is good publicity.
While Bud Light spurred plenty of conversation, my guess is the conversation around the Hyundai and NFL commercials has been more positive overall.
Tapping into real life experiences and making people laugh — if you can do that, your marketing has a much better chance of being memorable.