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Super Bowl Surprises

Five ads from the Super Bowl you might have missed

On Sunday 5 February, the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons at One NRG Park in Houston in Super Bowl LI. Not only is it one of the biggest sporting events of the year but also one of the biggest marketing events of 2017.

created on Thursday 2 Feb 2017

With viewing numbers that have regularly exceeded 100 million people in recent years, it’s not surprising that brands and agencies have gone all out to win the battle of the Super Bowl spot. And with the cost of a 30-second commercial during the game reportedly topping out at $4.5 million in 2015, the stakes are always high. But this pressure has resulted in some of the most famous and creatively brave campaigns of all time. 
We all know about Apple’s '1984', which first aired at Super Bowl XVIII, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan’s epic ‘Showdown’ for McDonald's at Super Bowl XXVII or a mini Darth Vader making an appearance for VW at Super Bowl XLV, but ahead of this year’s game we’ve looked back at some of the more unusual ads aired during America’s biggest game day.

The violent one

See the credits in the Cannes Lions Archive
Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, Hypnotic, 2003
Funny ads traditionally do well during the Super Bowl and here Hypnotic combined humour and violence to create the character of Terry Tate. He’s an American footballer hired by Felcher & Sons to bring some order to the office environment. The spot scooped a Gold Lion in 2003 for Reebok.

The powerful one

See the full credits in the Cannes Lions Archive

#LikeAGirl, Leo Burnett Toronto, Leo Burnett London, Holler and Leo Burnett Chicago, 2015
The Super Bowl might be one of the most testosterone filled events in the world. But that didn’t stop P&G winning the marketing battle in 2015 with a thoughtful and provocative campaign piece designed to face gender stereotypes head-on. The campaign swept the board at Cannes Lions later that year, winning a Titanium Lion and a Glass Lion, as well as Golds in Film, Cyber, Direct, Media and Promo & Activation.

The one with animals in costumes

See the full credits in the Cannes Lions

Wiener Stampede, David, 2016
Animals often make appearances in Super Bowl spots. And everyone knows that the big game is really just an excuse to eat junk food all day. So when agency David combined cute dogs and one of the world’s favourite snacks in one great ad for Heinz, they knew they were on to a winner. And they were right, with the campaign collecting up a Bronze in Film Craft last year.

The epic one

See the full credits in the Cannes Lions A|rchive

Commander, Venables Bell & Partners, 2016
It’s not all jokes and dogs in costumes at the Super Bowl. There’s also room for epic pieces of storytelling. It’s something that car brands have typically excelled at and we’ve picked out this example for Audi that’s out of this world.

The one that never even aired

If We Made It, Droga5, 2015
When a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl can cost millions of dollars, how do you get involved when you’re a brand without bottomless pockets? If you’re Newcastle Brown Ale and you have one of the most-awarded agencies of all time working for you, you do it by creating a campaign centred around what you would have done if you had more money than sense.

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