Super Bowl 2018: Which adverts scored and why SME’s should be paying attention

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Super Bowl 2018: Which adverts scored and why SME’s should be paying attention

Earlier on this week, the Super Bowl took place in Minnesota, United States. Now in its 52nd year, the championship game of the NFL (National Football League) gathers more international attention every year with a focus not just on the football, but on the half time show and the television adverts that air during the broadcast.

Given the huge viewing figures the event attracts, broadcasters can charge large sums for the advertising slots alone. Two years ago CBS (who aired the 50th event) confirmed that a 30 second slot would cost $5million. That’s just for the right to broadcast an advert, it doesn’t take into account the production costs of the advertisements and there is no doubt that the adverts that got attention this year had VERY high production values!


In particular, PepsiCo’s advert for two of its biggest brands Doritos and Mountain Dew had some impressive, and no doubt costly, star power:

The advert features what they describe as the “rap battle to end all rap battles”, television and film stars Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman lip syncing to soundtracks from Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott. CNBC reports that the ad had an estimated spend of $10.2 million. But it isn’t just the big names and high production values that make this a very clever piece of advertising. PepsiCo and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (the agency behind the advert) have tapped into numerous trends that have gone viral and have been international talking points on social media over the last few years.

These include the Game of Thrones connotations in Dinklage’s section and the popularity of lip syncing videos on YouTube thanks to the success of viral videos such as the ‘Lip Sync Battle” and the “Carpool Karaoke” series. As well as being a huge amount of fun, the advert is designed to get people talking and it definitely achieved this goal with more than 3.5 million online and the highest ‘digital share of voice’ score, a measurement AdAge uses to analyse online views and social media impressions. According to that score the advert received over 78,000,000 social impressions after it aired.


It’s not all about Morgan Freeman dancing though, Saatchi & Saatchi New York’s advert for American laundry detergent Tide featured arguably the most clever messaging and script seen in these adverts:

With an estimated cost of $8.1million, this advert sees Stranger Things actor David Harbour hijacking a number of other famous adverts and explaining they aren’t in fact adverts for cars, confectionary, diamonds or more, they are instead an advert for Tide. The logic being that all these adverts feature incredibly clean clothes, clothes that must have therefore been washed using Tide. As well being very amusing, the genius of the script is it makes you associate every other commercial with Tide. The advert and therefore the brand stay in your mind because you find yourself noticing how spotless the clothes are in these adverts, meaning even though you are watching an advert for something else, you are still thinking about Tide.

Amazon's Alexa

Other highlights include Amazon’s advert for Alexa. Produced for an estimated $14.9million, this advert manages to combine the star power of the PepsiCo advert and the humour of the Tide advert. We won’t spoil the surprise but it’s sufficient to say when Alexa looses her voice, some famous faces step in to provide assistance:



Moving away from the comedic approach, Toyota produced a very powerful piece that highlights the brands work in mobility. The advert tells the story of Paralympic eight-time gold medal winner Lauren Woolstencroft, slowly counting down her odds of winning a gold medal. It makes its point beautifully and compared to the more light hearted approach of the other adverts we’ve talked about, this one hits a very emotive tone with the audience:

Bizarrely though, the advert that I personally think marketers should pay attention to, not necessarily with a creative head but a strategic one, wasn’t for a brand at all. It was for a movie called The Cloverfield Paradox. The reason this advert got so much attention is it promoted the fact that the movie isn’t to be released in cinema’s as everyone believed, instead it went onto Netflix that evening, directly after the Super Bowl. Paramount, the studio that made the film decided to bypass cinemas completely and sell distribution rights directly to Netflix.

Whilst this has a range of implications for the film industry, the bit that is important to marketers is that it highlights the ever-changing landscape of how and where people view and engage with content. This will in turn impact the spaces marketers use to promote products. The reason that Super Bowl spots costs advertisers so much money is it’s one of the few events where they can guarantee viewers will tune in and watch the event live, on broadcast television. Although even then as discussed, with the ‘digital share of voice’ score, social media impressions are being used to judge an adverts true success.

Thanks to technology like Netflix, YouTube and social media, audiences are using different platforms to engage with content and the power that traditional mediums such as television networks and cinemas had is arguably decreasing. It’s important that smaller companies pay attention to this because it will have a ripple effect.

This ripple can already be seen in recent moves by YouTube and Facebook. YouTube is now the second most used search engine in the world and Ofcom reported last year that younger demographics were turning to the platform as an alternative to traditional television, putting the streaming site in a very powerful position. This year YouTube revealed that it would change the parameters for monetizing content, restricting the number of people that could make money from the platform, potentially stopping smaller businesses using the platform to generate an income. Equally, as Gemma will discuss in our next blog, Facebook, a source of news for many has openly admitted to restricting the reach of organic posts. This potentially forces smaller businesses, trying to grow their following, to increase their social media budget to include sponsoring posts to ensure they are seen.

There is a lot to take away from the advert break of Monday’s Super Bowl! From spotting potential trends that will eventually trickle down to businesses of all sizes to seeing how effective it can be to use the right messaging or incorporate external ideas that will generate discussion.

MAXX would love to speak to you about how we can help in all of these areas, from creating engaging adverts to producing a marketing plan that can help you assign budget to the right platforms. If you want to discuss this further just contact us on [email protected] or visit





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