In a game marked by some remarkable firsts—the first brother-to-brother head coaching game, the first Super Bowl interception ever by a San Francisco quarterback, the first power outage in the middle of the game—the advertising in Super Bowl XLVII showed some notably unpredictable trends as well.
The 40 advertisers that appeared during the broadcast showed around 55 commercials, paying $3.8–4.1 million each for 30-second spots. But the ads were not limited to 30 seconds; instead, this year might best be identified by the dominance of a longer form of story-telling–based advertising. Two Chrysler brand advertisements exemplified this trend best: Dodge Ram’s “Farmer” commercial featured an extended excerpt of an old Paul Harvey speech about the dedication and demand for farmers in the world.
Jeep’s two-minute homage to soldiers returning home also used a famous voice, in this case Oprah Winfrey’s.
These commercials played on viewers’ heartstrings and patriotism. But the top two ads, according to USA Today’s Ad Meter, also used gentle humor in their long forms to appeal to consumers. In the top ranked entry, a horse trainer who raises his Clydesdale from a foal gets to witness his glory, pulling a Budweiser truck, and then enjoys a reunion when his old equine friend chases him down the street for a sweet nuzzle after the parade. In the second, a “miracle” salsa stain in the image of Joe Montana thrills a 49ers fan, until his Ravens-loving wife removes the stain with Tide detergent.
As these four top ads show, the winning advertisers were largely big name brands, known for their past successes in the advertising game. In contrast, the somewhat smaller, riskier advertisers, such as Go Daddy, sparked quite a bit of negative backlash with their risqué and, for many viewers, unfunny depictions.
For the approximately 111 viewers tuning in though, perhaps one of the most notable trends was the absence of any demands that they do more than watch. That is, after years of ads pushing viewers to make social media links, the 2013 game featured only one major ad by Coca-Cola that asked viewers to go online and link with the brand. In this case, their motive was to vote, after prompts by three separate commercials, for which members of a band of desert racers would emerge victorious in their pursuit of a cold beverage.
But even as some old standbys succeeded and modern trends seemed to be receding, behind the scenes, social media still made its mark. Many ads had been “pre-released” to build buzz around them in the days leading up to the big game. For the eighth year in a row, Doritos crowd sourced its contributions, asking viewers to create its ads, and then vote on which ads would air during the game. Samsung played on the idea too, when Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan’s best ad pitch was to crowd source it, instead of relying on actual comedians to come up with a funny idea.
Source: Ken Wheaton, “Super Bowl Ad Review: The Good, the Bad, the Clydesdales,” Ad Age, February 4, 2013; Bruce Horovitz, “Budweiser’s Clydesdale Wins Ad Meter by a Nose,” USA Today, February 4, 2013