One of the worlds biggest sporting events is set to take place on February 5th. While the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots battle it out for the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl LI (51), it is also the platform for heavy weight brands, with advertising spend in excess of $5mil, to show their wares.

With viewership of an average audience of 111.9million viewers, Super Bowl offers a hugely captive audience for these brands to reach out to. Preliminary estimates found that 72% of U.S. homes with televisions in use were tuned into the Super Bowl 50 telecast’.


Vying for first place in the annual fight for best Super Bowl advert includes the regular contenders, such as Doritos, Budweiser, Coca Cola, Mountain Dew, Audi, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Pepsi, Skittles and Snickers. But, based on last years advertising results, every brand will need to step their game up…

According to a 2016 Super Bowl The Science of Sharing report, compiled and write by Unruly, the adverts didn’t perform as well as previous years.

Super Bowl 2016 ad performance

The key takeaway from the Unruly Science of Sharing 2016 report can be summarised by this paragraph: Super Bowl 50 (2016) has been called “Super Bowl Light”: the ads were light-hearted, light in substance and light in connecting with consumers. This last bit was the fatal flaw in a lackluster year for Big Game ad sharing – high emotional intensity is the secret sauce behind making people lean in to watch and engage with an ad.


Some of the better performing Super Bowl 2016 adverts can be seen below.


Wix used the cast of an animated film, Kung Fu Panda 3, to promote its product through poking fun at previous hugely popular adverts all in 30-seconds – arriving at the punch line their brand is firmly planted in your memory whilst you are left wanting to watch it again. However, as well as this was received, Wix released this advert in January, 2016 a month before the Super Bowl game, which meant that they lost out on sharing opportunities as many had already seen it.


 Audi used exclusivity as their premise to promote the Audi R8, by intercutting between flash backs of an elderly man reflecting back on his career as an astronaut and then the feeling of being alive through the speed and freedom that driving the R8 affords.  Cinematically shot, we get the sense of what it is to be one of the few to have reached the moon and looked back at the earth, also not forgetting to mention the use of the famous David Bowie track, Starman.


This 60 second Amazon advert featured no fewer than four mega celebrities including a former NFL star in addition to an overtly self referential script addressing the viewers directly – was hugely popular.  One of our favourite less overt moments is Missy Elliot laughing at the 32-seconds mark at Alec Baldwin’s swipe at Dan Marino.


Turbo Tax nabbed Sir Anthony Hopkins, hugely popular in the US, owing to the Hannibal Lector Franchise to promote their free online service.  Humorously over the top in it’s scripting, Turbo Tax is referenced either visually or verbally no fewer than sixteen times within the one minute commercial, whilst Sir Anthony denies promoting anything. The result… viewers knowing exactly who to go to to when wanting to file their taxes for free online…


Based on the relatively disappointing results, on the whole, of Super Bowl 2016 adverts, if we compare two of the above adverts with their 2017 counterparts, what changes can we see?



Clearly the creative teams picked up on the mood of their audiences from the viewing and sharing figures of the 2016 Super Bowl.  Both wix.com and TurboTax have reacted to comments like the one in the Unruly report where it states last years adverts were ‘light in substance’. The wix.com advert is nothing short of a trailer for a Hollywood action film – starring Jason Statham & Gal Gadot. TurboTax.com have used a character from a children’s nursery rhyme and bucket loads of humour to convey their service and product offering. By using action and humour, both brands are aiming to create engagement with the Super Bowl audience.

Whether these create the emotional connection between the brand and the audience that Unruly felt was lacking from last years adverts remains to be seen. However, combined, they already have 13million views on YouTube so they are already pulling the viewers in.


While few businesses can claim to have the marketing spend of the likes of Turbo Tax or Wix.com, there are still key takeaways from Super Bowl adverts that apply to any video marketing strategy.


It is critical to know not only who you audience is, but also the tone of voice in which to engage them with. Brands creating Super Bowl adverts know they have a wide audience to appeal to, and that they are watching in a social environment (with family, friends, food and drink) wanting to be entertained. Knowing who you are speaking to mean you can create content that speaks to them directly. If you don’t know this information, you need to do the research to get you this insight. 
Duration: Be concise enough to convey your message in the most engaging manner possible to hold your audience attention. Brevity is key to ensure the video is watched in its entirety. If viewers are dropping off mid or part way through any of your content a reassessment is needed immediately. The value of video metrics can not be under estimated in the level of control to effectively measure and improve on your content strategy as it is rolled out.


The style of you video is the first opportunity to visually grab your viewers.  Depending on your brand and message there is a plethora of options – cinematic, documentary, drama, action, humour. It is worth getting to know what your audience want and expect to see from your brand. The point cannot be over emphasised enough, if you don’t know what your audience want or expect from your brand, you need to find out. It is only through research, and the resulting insights which in turn provides you with the knowledge you need to create videos that resonate. 


As Unruly highlighted in their report, ‘high emotional intensity’ is needed to make viewers really buy into the video and its message. Of course, actually achieving this is difficult; too much emotion and it can put people off or used in the wrong context people will feel manipulated but when well executed create a direct dialogue based on empathy an trust with your audience.
Call-To-Action: After watching your video, the viewer needs to know what to do next. Including a Call-To-Action (CTA) which will help them to take the desired steps post viewing, be that go to your website, watch another video, buy your product or service or sign up to a monthly newsletter. Brands create different pieces of content to get different reactions from a potential, or existing, customer. This reaction is dependent on what stage of their own personal interaction, with that brand, they are at. A comprehensive content campaign will consist of a range of content types. This means each piece of content has a unique CTA, which pushes the viewer further along the buyers journey. Consider carefully what you want your viewers to do next and then tell them!


If you want to know how to build a complete video strategy to elicit emotion and action from your audience, then contact us. We’re an insight driven video agency which means we do the research to help you to understand your audience, resulting in a video that is tailored made to them. Just click the button below!