2014 Super Bowl Commercials – The Ads That Will Make You Laugh, Cry and Cringe

In Advertising, Hot off the Press by Marius Badenhorst

The Super Bowl is the most expensive time slot for advertising, because it is one of the highest viewed events internationally, and this holds true despite the fact that American football is a predominantly US played sport. Brands that make it onto the Super Bowl have the attention of the whole world.  Media agencies have predicted that the viewership of the 2014 Super Bowl would show a sharp increase this year. Media expert, Brad Adgate stated, in an article published on Forbes, that the viewership of the ten NFL playoff games alone was 10% higher than that of last season and the two conference championship games were viewed 20% above last year.

Even in the UK, NFL is increasing its popularity.  The Super Bowl was reportedly watched by more than four million people in the UK last year – the number has doubled since 2007.

With the fragmentation of television and viewership, the Super Bowl remains one of the last major mass media events. Advertisers thus use celebrity endorsements and spend millions to get their advertisements placed to have a share of voice during Super Bowl time.

For a advertisement to be effective, an ad must contain a concise, clear message that reflects the brand’s core values which at the same time adds value to the lives of consumers. Each year, Super Bowl viewers see adverts that either delight or disgust them. Below are the most adored, artistic, and detested advertisements of the 2014 Super Bowl:

1. Budweiser’s “Puppy love”

Budweiser adverts are regular favourites at the Super Bowl. Budweiser’s ad this year was one of the most talked about adverts during the series and received 36,816,260 online views at the time of this publication. In the ad a golden retriever puppy forms a strong bond with one of the iconic Budweiser Clydesdale horses that have for long been associated with the brand. “#BestBuds” reads a hashtag under a logo at the end of the advertisement. According to Viral Video Chart it is the most widely shared Super Bowl advertisement to date.

The success of the advertisement relates to the fact that Budweiser has stuck to its core message of friendship.

2. Cheerios – “Gracie”

It seems that cute was the way to go at the 2014 Super Bowl. Cheerios aired an adorable advertisement of a family expecting another child and their having to deal with explaining this to their young daughter. The seemingly innocent advertisement received around 3,466,375 views on Youtube and unfortunately caused a bit of a stir on social media platforms due to its depiction of an interracial family. Television network, MSNBC posted a tweet suggesting, fearing, or rather, hoping that conservatives would not like the new Cheerios Super Bowl ad. Their tweet read the following: “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family” the tweet spurred readers to report on the ad.  YouTube’s comments section on the ad was turned off when the discussion started to get particularly inappropriate.

3. Bud Light “Ian Up For Whatever”

Bud Light went all out with their “Up For Whatever” stunt. The advertisement took the form of a prank in which a young man, Ian was approached by an actress and asked whether he would be up for anything if he accepted a Bud Light beer from her.  Ian agreed and was unknowingly taken on an unbelievable night out by a Bud Light team. Ian participated in a number of incredible activities including a table tennis match against actor, Arnold Swarzenegger which unlocked a stage on which One Republic was performing. The video has received over 9,274,848 views on Youtube.

4. Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt – The Spill

Dannon Oiko’s ad features John Stamos and a hot date in its Super Bowl commercial for its Oikos Greek yogurt. His “Full House” co-stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier intervene before things get too steamy between Stamos and his date.

The advert is similar to last year’s, in which Stamos flirts with an attractive young woman over a cup of yogurt. After his date licks some yogurt from his lips, Stamos “accidentally” spills some onto his lap. The advertisement gained over a million views on YouTube in just two days (4,270,566 today).

5.  Jaguar British Villains ‘Rendezvous’

In this celebrity filled advertisement, actors Tom Hiddleston, Ben Kingsley and Mark Strong play sophisticated, Jaguar-driving British villains, posing the question: “Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood movies, all the villains are played by Brits?” The hashtag: #ItsGoodToBeBad is included in the end of the ad, which premiered on January 28 on YouTube. To date, it has 8,265,761 views.

6. Toyota Ad Starring Terry Crews and the Muppets

The success of Toyota’s Super Bowl advertisement is simple – it is entertaining! The advertisement stars America’s beloved muppets and shows Terry Crews performing one of his famous car dances. The advert has over 6,644,245 online views on this day.

7. Chrysler – Bob Dylan advertisement

One of the more artistic advertisements featured at the 2014 Super Bowl is Chrysler’s and Bob Dylan endorsed commercial in which Dylan discusses and celebrates American culture and industry. The advertisement received mixed success due to the fact that consumers have questioned the use of Bob Dylan in the advert, because Dylan is thought of as a celebrity against capitalism it is ironic that he is promoting an industry which is often exploitive. Nonetheless the advertisement is shot beautifully and has a great soundtrack!

8. Microsoft 2014 Super Bowl Commercial: Empowering

Microsoft released a humbling advertisement at the 2014 Super Bowl. The ad is narrated by former NFL star, Steve Gleason who speaks through eye-tracking software on his Microsoft Surface, because he has ASL, a debilitating neurological disease. Throughout the advertisement people with disabilities who are empowered through technology are featured. The advertisement is inspirational tear jerker.

9. Chevy: “Romance”

In this rather odd advertisement Chevrolet mashes romance, animal breeding, cars and “You Sexy Thing”, by Hot Chocolate into one ad. The advertisement was produced by agency, Leo Burnett and uses silly, suggestive, sexual innuendo, which seems to be irrelevant to audiences today. The tactic is especially distasteful because of its portrayal of a cows in a sexual light.

10. “The Truth” Kia K900 Morpheus Commercial

Kia put a lot of money into its K900 advertisement. The advertisement is done in the style of the movie, The Matrix, which is known for its extensive special effects, and even features  Laurence Fishburne who portrayed the character Morpheus in the movie. The advertisement only has 2,758,712 views on Youtube which is a shame considering how much money had to be invested into this production. It is often the simplest ideas that have the best returns when it comes to advertising. This ad is an example of when brands that fail to recognize the power of simplicity.

11. Maserati  “Ghibli – Strike”

Maserati also launched a highly cinematic advert at the Super Bowl this year. If you haven’t seen the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, you probably wouldn’t understand the reference in this advertisement. As in the movie, actress Quvenzhane Wallis narrates the story. Maserati’s message is unclear and is more than likely not understood by the mass to which it has been offered. Even though the advertisement didn’t perform that well, it is very well shot – well done to the videographers.

12. GoDaddy – Danica Patrick

Go Daddy is an internet domain registrar and web hosting company that somehow manages to get its advertising wrong at the Super Bowl almost every year. The company usually sticks to using sex (an interesting combination considering the nature of the business) to promote its services. This strategy has recently changed. In their Super Bowl advertisement, Go Daddy turns the sexy Nascar star, Danica Patrick, into a body builder. If you’re wondering what a bad advertisement looks like this is it…

As marketers we can find a lot of inspiration and learn from the advertisements that make it to the Super Bowl. Consumers want to be entertained and seek real promises from brands. It is of utmost importance that we listen to our customers and follow their cues. If we fail to recognize what consumers want to see or hear, we will put off our customers and fall behind the stiff competition.

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst