Conventional knowledge will tell you that the Super Bowl involves an esoteric American game in which an egg-shaped ball is thrown around for a ridiculously long period of time. But everyone in the advertising industry knows that this isn't what it's about. It's actually about the ads—and in the lead up to this year's edition, we've already been treated to a few gems.
In the lead up to this year's Super Bowl on 1 February, brands of every persuasion have put the pressure on their creative agencies to develop campaigns that will stand out in a very cluttered space. And while there will undoubtedly be more spots released in the coming days, here is a collection of some of our favourites.
Bud Light has gone old school for this year’s Super Bowl commercial, which was released following the teaser less than a week ago. A man walks into a bar (this is not the beginning of a joke) and is given a Bud Light by a female bartender before being asked, “If I give you a Bud Light, are you up for whatever happens next?” He is then dropped into a real-life Pacman game where he gets chased around by neon-coloured, simulated ghosts as a wild crowd cheers him on and electronic dance music blares in the background.
The commercial is in a similar vein to last year’s, where when given a Bud Light the drinker must be prepared for some kind of out-of-the-blue epic experience. In 2014’s ad an ordinary Bud Light drinker ends up travelling in an elevator with Don Cheadle and a Llama, after which he goes on to play table tennis with Arnold Schwarzenegger before ending up on stage with One Republic. I wonder what kind of adventure we will witness next year.
Toyota Camry has opted for an inspirational, sporty theme with its Super Bowl commercial titled ‘How great I am’, which features paralympist and former dancing with the starts contestant Amy Purdy. The ad is made up of clips of Purdy’s highly active lifestyle – we see her dancing, cycling, snow boarding, running, modelling, and of course, driving a Toyota Camry.
The ad is about beating the odds and getting back up after being knocked down and the Toyota Camry is shown aiding Purdy getting place-to-place to carry out all of her activities. The ad has been overlayed with the voice of Muhammed Ali with his “How great I am” speech.
Snickers Super bowl teaser
The Super Bowl teaser for Snickers is pretty hilarious. The 22-second clip features Machete actor Danny Trejo in the role of Marcia from The Brady Bunch. He sits in front of a mirror in his signature leather vest getup, aggressively brushing his hair and counting each brush stroke. He is then interrupted by his mother knocking at the bedroom door yelling “Marcia!”. He responds with “Shut up Mum!”, loses count then starts from the beginning again.
Snickers has said if the clip reaches 2.5 million “social media engagements” before Super Bowl Sunday, the ad will be released early in its 30-second entirety.
Newcastle Brown Ale
Parks and Recreation actress Aubrey Plaza stars in Newcastle Brown Ale’s ad, which aims to get viewers excited for Newcastle’s Bands of Brands commercial by the notoriously unexcitable Plaza. Plaza is dressed as a conservative farm girl, milking a cow and the cameraman asks the deadpan actress to sound more excited, to which she responds that it’s just her normal voice and she cannot do anything about her naturally sarcastic voice.
The ad follows another, where Plaza calls for smaller brands to band together instead of each blowing millions of dollars creating just one.
The Brand of Bands commercial, which has now been released on Newcastle’s website features over 37 different brands, jam-packed into a 1-minute ad. What starts out as a seemingly normal Newcastle commercial quickly becomes frantic as the two actors hurriedly name-drop the other brands while a hefty amount of product placement is used.
A teaser for Nationwide Insurance dubbed ‘Invisible Mindy’ features comic actress Mindy Kale. In the commercial she decides she’s invisible after being ignored by a taxi in New York. She then sets about town doing whatever she pleases: sunbathing naked in a New York park, walking through a car wash, stealing ice cream and wiping her hands on a dressed up woman upon exiting the bathroom.
The teaser ends with the revelation that Mindy is actually not invisible, so I wonder what the next instalment will have to offer.
BMW has released a commercial which takes us back to 1994 featuring a clip of talk show presenters Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric from The Today Show. In this piece of television gold the two are baffled by the concept of the internet, most of all by the “@” symbol and ask questions like “What is internet anyway?”.
The car manufacturer has the same presenters twenty years on sitting in BMW’s new i3 electric vehicle trying to figure out how it works, ending with the i3 tagline “Big ideas take a little getting used to”. It’s particularly funny this far down the track with the massive proliferation of the internet, where it has become such a normal and almost subversive part of modern culture. Increasingly advertisers are making use of this, creating campaigns that can easily spill over to different media platforms. This is definitely the case with the Super Bowl commercials, with 57 percent of them incorporating hashtags last year, suggesting their online presence.
Skittles has an interesting and mysterious ad coming up for the Super Bowl. The sixteen-second-long teaser, leaves us hanging in anticipation, establishing shots of a rural looking diner soon turn a bit sinister. Strangely, every person in the clip has an extremely muscular, bulging right arm.
The actors are eventually drawn outside by something unseen, the clip ending with the foreboding words “It will be settled”. The ad so far looks very much like the trailer to some kind of epic movie. Unfortunately, there really is no guessing what is going to happen, and so far we have seen nothing to do with Skittles. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
BuzzFeed has pawed its way into the Super Bowl ads this year by teaming up with Friskies for a commercial called ‘Dear Kitten’, which will take up 60 seconds of airtime during the NFL championship game. A longer version has also been posted online.
The ad is a continuation of the online web series by the same name, which has had over 30 million views. This time the big cat (voiced by BuzzFeed Motion Pictures president Ze Frank) is providing an explanation for the behaviour of a group of infiltrators who have come over to watch the game, from his usual humorous, almost anthropological perspective. The ad ends with both cats lapping up some Friskies wet food.
Since BuzzFeed and Friskies are not endorsing the game, the ad cannot mention the words Super Bowl. It is also only airing in three markets, but is expected to garner a many more views online.
This year, Super Bowl regular Volvo will not be featuring an ad at the Super Bowl. Instead, the luxury car brand will attempt to steal the limelight from all the other automotive companies that run spots during the event by encouraging viewers to Tweet videos to #VolvoContest every time they see car ad.
Dubbed "the greatest interception ever", the campaign will essentially be using the car ads of other companies to peddle Volvo's new XC60.
The Verge accidentally—though Twitter believes it was on purpose—leaked its Super Bowl ad, which tells of how smart phones "are changing every facet of our lives".
The ad is by no means a creative masterpiece, but what makes it interesting is that it only cost US$700 to make.
As explained on the YouTube video's description: "Super Bowl ads attract national audiences in excess of 100 million viewers, for a price tag as high as $4.5 million for just 30 seconds. Which is why The Verge is running our first ever Super Bowl ad... in Helena, Montana. The cost? $700."
The website design company at first appears to tread familiar territory by featuring an eye-wateringly adorable puppy on a long journey back to its abode. But just when it seems that things are going to turn out alright for the misplaced canine things take an unexpected turn for the worse.
Pierce Brosnan pokes fun at the clichéd action adventure movies that have for quite some time paid the bills in his home in Kia's spot, which opts for a more realistic storyline rather than a series of far-fetched action-laden scenarios.
Brosnan wasn't the only celebrity to have a laugh at himself. Kim Kardashian also appears in a T-Mobile spot giving an incongruently sombre account of what wasted data could have instead been used on. And rather fittingly, she sees great tragedy in the fact that smart phone owners have not used all their data to admire the frivolous activities that she engaged in on a daily basis.