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Brief Published: 3 Feb 2014

Non-Super Bowl Ads Shine at Super Bowl 2014

The marketing showdown that is the annual Super Bowl American football event kicked off on Sunday, representing its biggest year for advertising yet. With advertisers still clamouring for the chance to get their brands in front of 108 million viewers, 30-second spots sold for as much as $4m. Here’s a round-up of the best from the Big Game.

A Quieter Year

Although big bucks were still spent on advertising, Reaction this year was sedate in comparison to previous offerings. Brands steered clear of crude jokes and sexual innuendos in favour of family values, patriotism and light humour. Take US internet brand GoDaddy, which last year came under fire for its sexualised ad starring model Bar Refaeli. This time around, the brand’s amusing ad used a stampede of bodybuilders to sell its web services. This general lack of excitement let more controversial and clever advertising shine through the noise. 

Cashing In On No-Shows

The brand with the best strategy didn’t even air during the game. UK beer brand Newcastle Brown Ale’s Game Day advertising came in the form of a clever campaign poking fun at the ridiculousness of much Super Bowl advertising. On the IfWeMadeIt website, fans could watch a series of videos including mock storyboards and interviews with its supposed stars showing what the brand would have made if they’d had enough money for the coveted ad slots. 

The brand also employed real-time tactics by producing quick videos making fun of the ads aired during the game. The videos have gone viral, revealing how not being part of the Super Bowl can be just as lucrative as being part of it.

A similar tactic was employed by US brand Esurance, which ran a spot directly after the game detailing the $1.5m it saved by choosing the less-coveted ad spot. The online car insurance company then promised to award that money to someone using its hashtag on Twitter. It amassed 1.2 million tweets overnight.

Alternatively, brands can actively attempt to get their ads banned from the Super Bowl altogether. SodaStream, the Israeli maker of the home carbonation units, achieved this by scripting a negative comment against event sponsors Coke and Pepsi into their ad, starring Scarlett Johansson. What causes more hype – the ad viewers can see, or the one they can't?

Most Popular Ads

  • Budweiser: Global beer brand Budweiser’s puppy ad showed that plucking heartstrings wins out over belly laughs.
  • Doritos: The Cowboy Kid was chosen by fans to represent American tortilla-chip brand Doritos this year.
  • Audi: German automaker Audi’s Doberhuahua pokes fun at hybrid creations, ending with the tagline: “Design without compromise”.
  • Chobani & Oikos: US Greek yoghurt brand Chobani featured for the first time with a humorous bear attack. As did multinational Dannon’s Oikos Greek yoghurt, with an ad starring the reunited cast of American sitcom, Full House.
  • Wonderful Pistachios: US brand Wonderful Pistachios’ ad stars Stephen Colbert as, well, a pistachio. 

Read more from this year's event in H&M's Shoppable Ads, Super Bowl's Online Ad Blitz and Super Bowl Retail Promos