Before Superbowl 54 advertisements hit the airwaves, our prediction was that this year's ads would have a very different feel than previous years. Of course, we still saw our fair share of quick-wit and clever advertisements, but as suspected, purpose-driven ads took center stage. We watched as Goggle reminded us that it’s more than a search engine, it is a brilliant way to track and relive your most heartfelt memories. Secret inspired us with a seemingly common football game only to surprise us that the players were female, unveiling the clever close: let’s kick inequality. Budweiser gave us their version of the “Typical American” highlighting the common experiences that make us uniquely American. It was the year that many Superbowl brands finally embraced the brilliance of being larger than their brand by being purpose driven.
Savvy brands realized that making an emotional connection with their audience is worth far more than a momentary chuckle. Purpose driven brands create a community with the audience. They cultivate a common ideal, value or belief. They make you stop and take notice because they elevate the discussion. The fear of forgetting your most cherished times, gender equality and that which bonds us resonates across gender, race, age, and socioeconomic position.
These astute brands also understand that today’s customers wish to support brands that stand for something greater than just profits. In fact, 72% of Americans say they feel it is more important than ever that the companies they buy from reflect their values, according to a 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone Study. No wonder, Michelob dedicated one of their ads to increasing organic farm land through donations based on sales of their Michelob Ultra Gold. They know that sustainability is top of mind for many consumers and they expect brands to do more.
Microsoft tapped into modern sentiment with their commercial of 49er’s female Offensive Assistant Coach, Katie Sowers, to associate their brand with today’s trailblazers because they know that relevance matters. They also understand that focusing on the thoughts, inspirations and aspirations of your customer is good business. Other brands seemed to double down on pure entertainment which, while uninspiring, did provide some relief to an otherwise tight game. After all, who doesn’t want to watch Bill Murray drive around with a ground hog? Many could watch that all day.
Still this year’s SuperBowl advertisements broke the mold in many ways. It seems that several brands have finally come to terms with the fact that fostering feelings, human connection and unity is perhaps the perfect complement to America’s favorite pastime. Perhaps Superbowl 54 will mark the start of commercials moving beyond merely amusing viewers and instead leaving viewers moved.