What We Can Learn from the Super Bowl Commercials 

One of the best things about February for us in the advertising industry is the wonderland of Super Bowl commercials. 

As one of the most watched events of the year, brands are eager to use the platform to highlight their products to a massive audience. As a result, the commercials aired during the Super Bowl often reflect the latest consumer trends and marketing strategies.  

We set out to watch the Super Bowl LVII commercials wondering what trends we would see and how the ads aligned with trends impacting the food industry. Join us as we dive deeper into what we saw and how food ingredient brands can use these takeaways in their marketing efforts.  

Trend 1: Marketing to millennials with nostalgia

Adults ages 44 and under are driving the year-over-year increase in expected viewership for the Super Bowl. This means that the millennial generation is increasingly becoming the target audience for its commercials. For a good reason, many brands are picking up on this generational shift and targeting their advertising to this key demographic.   

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, strongly relate to nostalgia. They grew up in a time of rapid technological advancements and cultural changes, which has affected their desire for the simpler times of their childhood. This nostalgia significantly impacts how millennials consume media and engage with brands, including during events like the Super Bowl.  

Nostalgia plays a crucial role in how brands try to connect with millennial audiences. By tapping into the shared cultural memories of millennials, brands can create commercials that resonate with viewers on an emotional level, making their messages more impactful and memorable.  

This year’s Super Bowl ads did not disappoint millennials. From Alicia Silverstone reprising her Clueless character; Cher, for Rakuten to Sarah McLachlan making a plea to shelter wild animals in the Busch Light commercial, there was plenty of nostalgia to go around.  

Trend 2: Authenticity shines

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the authenticity of a brand. This means companies can use commercials and other advertising to communicate sincere messages that will connect with their audience. To create authenticity in your advertising, it’s important to consider the following elements: 

  • Representation: reflecting your audience in images and videos 
  • Language: messaging that clearly reflects your brand and connects to your audience 
  • Human connection: show genuine emotion and avoid over-scripted situations 

High on everyone’s favorite commercial list was the spot for The Farmer’s Dog. This commercial hit authenticity in the best way. No celebrity was needed to get the message across that the family dog is an integral part of a person’s life and sees us through many milestones. Every dog owner could put themselves in that commercial and feel those emotions. 

Another Super Bowl ad that touched on authenticity was from Dunkin. They utilized Ben Affleck’s well-known link to the brand to capture authentic experiences with customers and deliver a memorable commercial. 

Trend 3: A national stage to serve up new experiences

What’s a better way to launch a new product than in front of millions of consumers? If consumer trends have taught us anything over the past few years, it’s that people want new experiences. From upcoming films to cryptocurrency, brands have used the Super Bowl to unveil something new and drive interest.  

This year, one of the most compelling commercials was Tubi’s Interface Interruption. This clever commercial grabbed viewers’ attention and had them scrambling to find who sat on the remote. This quick, 15-second spot was a smart way to advertise to millions of unsuspecting football fans.  

Uber took a musical route to advertise their Uber One membership in the form of Diddy being hired to produce one hit song for the brand. Viewers saw several music artists reimagine their one-time hits into a song about the delivery service. While Uber One isn’t a new service, the commercial was a fun way to raise awareness. 

Trend 4: Super Bowl commercials are just a piece of the pie

Brands have been dropping teasers for weeks leading up to the Super Bowl to create buzz and anticipation for their commercials. This allows companies to extend their campaigns beyond the game itself. It gets people talking before the Super Bowl, when the commercial airs and after the event. 

PopCorners and their “Breaking Good” spot is a great example of this. Fans were excited when they dropped a teaser weeks before the game, building up to the big reveal of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and Tuco Salamanca reprising their roles from Breaking Bad.  

The Mars’ brand announced its return to the Super Bowl weeks ahead of the game with a refreshed brand purpose and identity, and a new color: Purple. This move proved to be polarizing and resulted in the brand announcing an “indefinite pause” on the spokescandies. Instead, it was announced Maya Rudolph would star in the Super Bowl spot as “Chief of Fun.” The Maya Rudolph commercial aired during the game, but a commercial after the Super Bowl saw the return of the spokecandies “for good.”  

Whether M&M’s had expected the controversy and expertly crafted a campaign around it, or if they were being reactive, M&M’s have been a topic of discussion for weeks, proving success to the awareness of the campaign. 

Other brands, like Welch’s Fruit Snacks, didn’t run commercials during the actual game, but built an omnichannel QR code campaign around the big event featuring NFL player Mark Andrews promoting a giveaway ahead of the game. In this way, they capitalized on the excitement of the Super Bowl without buying any airtime.   

What food ingredient brands can learn from the Super Bowl commercials

While the Super Bowl commercials target consumers, there are several takeaways that food ingredient brands can use in their marketing strategies.  

  • Understand your target audience: know who your ideal buyer is and what they respond to. 
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new: there’s a shift in the buyer demographic. What may have worked in the past might no longer land the same anymore. 
  • Be authentic: set yourself apart from the competition. Ensure that your marketing aligns with your company’s mission, vision and values. 
  • Be strategic: understand how all the pieces of a campaign support each other.  

Wrapping it up

This year’s Super Bowl commercials showcased creative ways that brands can effectively reach and connect with their audience. There was no shortage of celebrity endorsements, humor, nostalgia and emotion to engage consumers and create a memorable commercial. The most effective brands knew their target audience and how to communicate their message in a way that would resonate with consumers.  

As a food ingredient marketing company, we appreciate the excitement and creativity of the Super Bowl commercials, but we also use them as a tool to help us derive elements that our clients can use in their marketing efforts. Take a look at how Anderson Partners is your total package for food ingredient marketing success.  

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