Last year’s Super Bowl may have had the lowest viewership in more than a decade, bringing in 98.2 million people. But, the cost of a 30-second ad spot during the game increased, costing $5.25 million in 2019 – up marginally from $5.2 million in 2018.
When brands spend that much on a commercial, they expect the ad to deliver the desired message, build brand awareness, and earn more views beyond those during the big game. Here’s a look at six companies that did just that with their Super Bowl marketing campaigns last year.
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NFL: 100-Year Game
The winner of the USA Today Ad Meter, the NFL’s “100-Year Game” commercial beat out the nearly 60 other ads, according to this metric. The campaign featured an impromptu pickup game with some of the best football players of all time. The ad brings together new and old sports favorites, helping it appeal to a larger audience. It was also able to bring back some nostalgia, which is a good touch for a campaign aimed at celebrating the league’s century anniversary.
As a whole, campaigns featuring familiar faces have performed better than those without them, at least in recent years. The NFL also included the first female player, giving a nod to having some cultural awareness – especially important for a brand that has struggled with backlash from female viewers in the past. The ad had an average rating of 7.69 out of 10 and performed best with women and ages 50 to 64, according to USA Today.
Amazon: Not Everything Makes the Cut
The most-watched video last year was Amazon’s “Not Everything Makes the Cut.” The ad features A-listers like Harrison Ford and Forest Whitaker testing out some not-so-good (but hilarious) uses for Amazon’s Alexa. The campaign follows in the footsteps of Amazon’s comical Alexa commercial during the 2018 Super Bowl, which also featured a variety of celebrities.
The 2019 marketing campaign earned 38.1 million views by 12:25 p.m. PT on February 4th, 2019, and also had the highest average three-day views. The ad had a 7.34 out of 10 rating on the USA Today Ad Meter – landing it in second place – and performed best with women and ages 50 to 64. The ad proves that Americans still value a good laugh, especially when some of their favorite celebs are involved. While the 2018 commercial appealed to a younger audience with its choice of famous faces (Rebel Wilson and Cardi B), the 2019 ad targeted an older demographic.
Doritos: Now It’s Hot
Featuring musical mashups with unlikely pairs for the second year in a row, Doritos “Now It’s Hot” 2019 Super Bowl marketing campaign included Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys. With acts like those two, it’s not much of a surprise that the ad performed best with viewers 21 years old and younger, according to the USA Today Ad Meter. It had a 5.63 average rating and performed best with women.
Chance the Rapper puts a new spin on the Backstreet Boys’ song, “I Want It That Way,” in the commercial, helping the brand connect with its desired younger audience. The brand said it gave its chip a hot “remix,” so the ad’s theme and message were a good fit.
M&M’s: Bad Passengers
With help of celeb Christina Applegate, M&M’s released its candy-stuffed chocolate bars during the big game – making it the first time the brand has released a new snack in a Super Bowl commercial. Applegate is seen yelling at the candy characters in the backseat in a scene that all parents can relate to. While viewers might have recognized the M&M voices, they weren’t shown the characters were connected in the new chocolate bar until the end, adding an element of surprise and humor.
The ad had a 6.51 out of 10 rating and performed best with women and ages 65 and older, according to the USA Today Ad Meter. The video has more than 1 million views on YouTube.
T-Mobile: What’s for Dinner
T-Mobile takes a playful look at a couple’s struggle to figure out what to eat in their “What’s for Dinner” campaign. The ad shows a text conversation the pair have about what to get for dinner. The commercial performed best with the younger audience, ages 21 and younger, and had a 5.1 average rating.
In an effort to target a younger audience, T-Mobile partnered with Taco Bell, which was featured at the end of the commercial (as well as mentioning tacos throughout the ad.) Featuring two different brands isn’t completely unheard of in Super Bowl commercials, but the majority of the ones who go this route are owned by the same parent company (ex. the 2018 Mountain Dew and Doritos ad).
Microsoft: We All Win
A Super Bowl campaign doesn’t have to bring on the laughs to connect with the audience, as Microsoft’s “We All Win” ad proved. The commercial features children with disabilities using the brand’s adaptive controller, which allows them all to enjoy video games. One reason this campaign was so successful is because Microsoft wasn’t just randomly using this issue to show they have cultural awareness: Microsoft was highlighting how they created a controller that anyone could use, no matter their disability. Marketers have to be careful when addressing topics like this one, and Microsoft created a great, inspirational example of how to do that.
This campaign ranked third on the USA Today Ad Meter with an average rating of 7.07. The ad performed best with women and ages 65 and older. The video had more than 200,000 views on Microsoft’s YouTube channel.
Connecting with viewers
All of these brands showed that they knew their targeted audiences and goals with their 2019 Super Bowl campaigns. Whether it was using humor, famous faces or a heart-warming story, each ad won with viewers across the country.