Over the years, the ads that air during the Super Bowl have become almost as important as the game itself. The Super Bowl is the premier annual showcase for advertisers, who shell out millions of dollars to make sure their ads air during the game. Commercial time during live events like the Super Bowl commands a steep price, but Super Bowl ads that connect with viewers can reap huge dividends for the companies behind them. This year during CBS’s national broadcast, 30 seconds of commercial time went for $5 million.
For Super Bowl 50, advertisers deployed humor, celebrities, and animals to grab the attention of the game’s more than 100 million viewers. About 40 stars appeared in commercials during the broadcast. T-Mobile launched a commercial featuring hip-hop star Drake receiving instructions on how to improve his hit, “Hotline Bling.” Christopher Walken headlined a commercial for Kia. Snickers ran an ad featuring Eugene Levy and Willem Dafoe. An ad for Bud Light featured Seth Rogen, Amy Schumer, Michael Peña and Paul Rudd, while Skittles went with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.
In the Super Bowl ads, there also seemed to be enough animals to fill a small zoo. A spot for Honda featured a flock of sheep singing the lyrics to Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” In an ad for Hyundai, two bears chased a man and a woman through a forest to their waiting car. A spot for Heinz starred a stampede of wiener dogs, while a Budweiser commercial featured the famous Clydesdales.
Several commercials offered serious and socially conscious messages. The National Football League donated 30 seconds of airtime to advocacy group No More, which works to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. Its commercial featured a text message exchange between friends hinting at possible signs of domestic violence. A Budweiser ad featuring actress Helen Mirren was Budweiser’s first anti-drunken-driving spot during the Super Bowl since 2005. Colgate used its initial foray into Super Bowl ads to advocate for water conservation.
Social media played a big part in the success of Super Bowl ads this year. Hyundai ran a paid promotion for its ad that helped it draw 33 million total online views before kickoff. A Doritos commercial showing a father eating Doritos while his wife gets an ultrasound accounted for 3.5 percent of online activity and 100,000 social posts on game day and finished with about 12 million online views overall. A visually jarring commercial for Mountain Dew Kickstart, featuring a creature the brand calls a “puppymonkeybaby,” also sparked lots of chatter on social media.