The Super Bowl is an event that transcends the sport of football and has become a cultural phenomenon. Over the years, the ads aired during the game have become as anticipated as the showdown on the field. Every year, companies shell out millions for 30 precious seconds of air time, hoping to capture a magical moment of brand awareness that resonates with the audience. Countless campaigns have soared to iconic status, becoming part of our everyday culture. Others have landed with a thud.
There’s so much to be learned from every marketing or advertising campaign. In this blog post, we’ll dive into some of our favorite “touchdowns” and notorious “fumbles” from past Super Bowl campaigns, extracting valuable insights into effective brand awareness strategies.
Touchdown: Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” Commercial (2014)
As dog lovers, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” campaign definitely made our list. The commercial featured a heartwarming story of a friendship between a puppy and a Clydesdale horse. The ad resonated with viewers emotionally and received widespread praise, becoming one of the most beloved Super Bowl commercials in recent years.
The lesson: Emotional connection is king. People remember stories that make them feel something, and Budweiser masterfully tapped into that with their adorable furry friends.
Nationwide’s commercial during Super Bowl XLIX, which featured a young boy lamenting all the life events he would miss due to a preventable accident, sparked controversy and backlash for its dark and somber tone. Many viewers found the ad depressing and inappropriate for a Super Bowl audience.
The lesson: Recognizing when and where your message lands is crucial. While serious messaging can be impactful, understanding the context in which your audience engages with your brand is crucial to avoid alienating them.
For nearly a decade, Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign invited consumers to create their own commercials for the chance to have them aired during the Super Bowl. This crowdsourcing approach generated immense buzz and engagement, with the winning ads consistently ranking among the most popular during the game.
The lesson: Don’t be afraid to empower your audience to be part of your brand story. Sometimes, the best way to promote your brand is to let your fans create their own magic.
This bizarre concoction of a puppy, a monkey, and a baby might have aimed for quirky, but it landed squarely in the “annoying” territory. Unhinged marketing can be effective, but only when it resonates with your brand identity and doesn’t alienate your audience.
The lesson: There’s a fine line between being memorable and being off-putting. That’s why you should exercise caution and ensure that your attempts at creativity align with your brand identity and resonate with your target audience.
Field Goal: Apple’s “1984” Commercial (1984)
Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, aired during Super Bowl XVIII. While now considered iconic, this ad was initially controversial. The dark, dystopian imagery and political undertones went over some viewers’ heads, and it wasn’t immediately clear what product was being advertised. However, the ad’s boldness and originality eventually won over audiences and critics alike.
The lesson: Brand awareness can be a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re playing the long game, ensure your brand narrative is consistent and resonates with your audience over time.
Ready to Make Every Snap Count?
One of the marketing principles we constantly reiterate is that brand awareness is a journey, not a destination. It’s about consistently moving the ball down the field, learning from each play, and adapting your strategy based on the ever-changing game. So, take inspiration from these iconic ads. Celebrate the touchdowns, analyze the fumbles, and remember: the most important element is creating a brand experience that resonates with your audience long after the final whistle blows.
Want to brainstorm some winning brand awareness strategies for your business? Contact Green Apple Strategy today! We’re a team of passionate marketers who can help you tell your brand story and score big with your customers.