Superbowl LI – The Adverts

Posted: February 13, 2017

111.3 million people watched Superbowl LI (51) live on Fox this year. To air an ad during the Superbowl would cost a company $5 million. That’s $167,000 per second for a 30 second TV spot!

It’s during the breaks that the true power of advertising can be seen, as companies compete to see who can be the most creative within the 30-60 seconds of air time they purchase. Some companies also released an extended version of their ad on social media to draw in the audience.

Every company that advertises during the Superbowl hopes their ad will go viral, extending the life of the campaign, ensuring it’s still being mentioned and shared long after the game has finished. Previous years have seen entertainment, surprise and lots of humour.


Many companies took alternate routes with their commercials in 2017. Budweiser focused theirs on immigration and Adolphus Busch, the founder of the company. This seemed to act as a subtle dig at President Trump and his controversial act on immigration.

Personally, I feel this ad was a great achievement from Budweiser. It got people talking and engaging with the brand online, and had 21.7 million views in less than 24 hours. When airing an ad during a televised event such as this, the story and message needs to make an impact, otherwise it will be but an after-thought. Growing up, I was always told the story of the ‘American Dream’ – to move over to the US with nothing and build your own empire, was a thing of legend. It was the starting point for many films – no matter the legality or the size of the empire, it signified a personal accomplishment. A new life, a new start. The story of Adolphus Busch certainly conforms to the messaging of the American Dream. It aims to reignite the hopes of all those who may have feared their dreams were over with Donald Trump at the reins of America.

Mr Clean 

It could be argued that people prefer to see a light-hearted ad during the Superbowl, particularly with the country facing a number of serious issues. Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwesten University claimed that advertisers are nervous about addressing the really big issues, so play it safe with upbeat humour.

Mr Clean’s Superbowl commercial has done exactly that, favouring comic relief in what could be one of the most memorable ads from this years game. The 30 second ad shows a woman instantly attracted to a character showing off some of his dance moves.

I’ve always been split with humorous ads, They either get across their intended meaning and the audience decode the commercial how the creator’s intended it, or it goes down in flames as tasteless and cringe-worthy. In this case I believe it has worked, there isn’t a new product to offer, but Mr Clean has dived in with mega-brands such as Budweiser and Hyundai, and delivered one of the most memorable ads of 2017.

It’s clear that advertisers wanted to prompt different emotional responses from the audience during this year’s Superbowl. Some honourable mentions include Christopher Walken reciting NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” whilst sat next to Justin Timberlake to promote the drinks brand ‘Bai.’

We also received a powerful, ethnically diverse commercial from Airbnb, which centred around the theme of belonging. This politcally charged ad took aim at Trump’s policies.

Some commercials, however were created to elicit pure excitement from the audience. From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, to The Fate of the Furious. These trailers surprised viewers alongside a teaser for the Netflix sensation of ‘Stranger Things,’ which returns on Halloween.

Escapism seemed to be a route most companies chose this year, opting not to produce an emotionally charged commercial, exemplified by what Tim Calkin said about companies playing it safe. However, I feel like we are in a time where escapism is at it’s most popular. The issues such as Trump’s travel ban, and the on-going Brexit debate are all proof that the political scene in the modern western world isn’t perfect. Both in the UK and the US, given the chance to escape – even for 30 seconds – we would all welcome it.

Andy Allen – Account Executive