Super Bowl LIV has come and gone! While some were in it to root for favorite teams, many tuned in to watch a Super Bowl of a different kind: commercials! Each year, millions gather to see what out-of-the-box, memorable ads will join the ranks of what is considered the pinnacle of advertising. In fact, according to Heavy, companies needed to shell out approximately $5.6 million for just a 30-second slot this year; far from the $37,500 it cost in 1967. We’ve had enough time to watch and rewatch our favorite (and least favorite) ads over and over again. So, here’s a look at how we thought a few of the highly-anticipated 2020 Super Bowl spots performed and alternatives for those who might not have the budget.

Best Performing

Snickers

Perhaps one of the most recognizable brands today, Snickers has become a staple in the Super Bowl commercial world. Each year we wait to see what star-studded cast will grace their promotions, and this year, actor Luis Guzman made an appearance! But what was successful about this commercial from an advertising standpoint? By sticking to the same similar message year after year, Snickers has cemented themselves as an expected participant; and people are watching. This year, the company took their “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” slogan to the next level. 

A common theme throughout Super Bowl commercials this time around was the use of relevant references and pop culture mentions. And with commentaries about the world’s problems, like smart home surveillance or children being named “Kale”, they certainly target a specific audience. Then, thousands gathered to save the state of our world by “feeding the earth” a Snickers bar. But not before a pair of “social media influencers”, another reference to the state of things, fell into the pit.

From the very beginning, filling the spot with relevant cultural and pop culture references helped capture viewers. Sticking with a recognizable message kept them locked in. And emotionally, viewers can relate to a changing world. While it was a slight turn from the typical Snickers message, it appeared to make its mark on audiences. It even came first in lists, like the one from Thrillist, ranking the commercials from best to worst. 

Doritos

For some, along with brands like Budweiser and Pepsi, the Doritos spot is one of the most well-known ads to play during the big game. And just like Snickers, they too utilize celebrity power to get viewers’ attention with Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys appearing in 2019. This year, we saw rapper Lil Nas X and actor Sam Elliott have a western dance-off over a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos in a minute-long ad – ending with Lil Nas X edging out Elliott with a dancing horse. 

While certainly unique, Doritos did exactly what it does best each year: kept it simple. In analyzing the commercial content itself, it’s easy to see that Doritos didn’t have to go above and beyond to sell themselves. Instead, they maintain their core message and focus on continually adding to brand recognition, and it works! 

Pepsi

When it comes to brand identity, Pepsi also knows exactly how to market with a purpose. In 2019, rapper Cardi B, actor Steve Carrell, and rapper Lil Jon partnered with them. This year, hip hop artists Missy Elliott & H.E.R. remixed the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” while visibly transforming their competitor’s iconic red Coca-Cola cans into black, sugar-free Pepsi cans. 

Luckily for Pepsi, this promo appeared successful in a number of ways. By working with a recognizable song, the company appealed to multiple age and gender demographics. Not to mention they perfectly incorporated their competitor in a subtle, yet notable way. Unsurprisingly, they also have made many lists of the most popular Super Bowl commercials. Even landing themselves on Vogue’s roundup of “The 16 Most Iconic Super Bowl Ads of All Time”.

Least Favorites

From unclear messaging to lackluster footage, there were also a few ads during the Big Game that seemingly missed the mark, leaving less of an impact on viewers. 

Quibi

One Super Bowl commercial that left the audience with more questions than answers? An ad for the new streaming service launching in April of this year, Quibi. The 30-second clip features bank robbers running away from a bank heist, expecting to see their getaway driver out front. He tells them he’ll be there in “a quibi”, meaning 10 minutes or less. The spot then explains that Quibi will have quick bites, big stories, and episodes in 10 minutes or less.

It’s clear this promo intends to sell the streaming service, but without any indication of what shows they’ll be featuring, viewers are left wondering what kind of entertainment the subscription platform will offer. And with conglomerates like Hulu, Netflix, and now Disney+ to compete with, it could be a difficult sell in such a saturated market. 

Procter & Gamble

Contrary to ads like Pepsi and Doritos that used celebrities sparingly (but successfully), Procter & Gamble’s 2020 Super Bowl ad was chock-full of recognizable faces; too many, perhaps. The 60-second ad was introduced as the “first interactive Super Bowl ad”. It featured a mix of various celebrity spokespeople representing many of the brands under Procter & Gamble. 

Sofia Vergara was the star, Troy Polamalu showed up for Head & Shoulders, the Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa was included, Busy Philipps promoted Olay, Boyz II Men sang a jingle, and Rob Riggle was a superhero who arrived to save the day from a chili mess with Bounty paper towels. Not to mention that animated Mr. Clean and a Charmin toilet paper bear also made an appearance. And while it’s clear what the message is trying to convey, it gets lost in what feels like a slew of guest appearances; and with selling the company’s goods falling by the wayside.

Super Bowl Advertising Alternatives

Have you ever wanted to air an ad during the Super Bowl? Unfortunately for a lot of companies both big and small, it’s just not feasible in terms of costs. There are alternatives, however, to make sure your advertisements are seen by the right people, on the right platforms, at the right time during the game – without having to drop a whopping $5.6 million. 

According to Hubspot, buying video ad space on social platforms, developing a deeper narrative, maximizing on major events or holidays, co-marketing, and influencer marketing are other ways to be seen and get noticed; and ON Advertising can help.

ON Advertising

Advertising is our game, and it’s even in our name. We utilize a consumer-centric approach in everything we do, including creating, planning, and buying advertising locally, nationally, and internationally. We develop tailor-made media strategies for our clients and see projects through from inception to completion. From TV to desktop and mobile to billboards, we can put you in front of your target consumers. Contact us to learn how we can help unlock the potential of your brand.