Feb 4, 2019

Super Bowl LIII: Time is a Flat Circle

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17 years ago the Patriots played the Rams in the Super Bowl. The sequel no one really asked for occurred this weekend, and if you were looking for an exciting game you'd have been better off re-watching the 2001 version of Sunday's game. While highlights on the field were few and far between, the commercials delivered some classics that resonated well with audiences and created a buzz.

Watching Tom Brady and the Patriots win the Super Bowl the day after Groundhog Day had me feeling a little like Phil Connors. Ads featuring Andy Warhol, the Geico hump day camel, Carrie Bradshaw, The Backstreet Boys and The Dude didn’t help with the sense that I was living in some sort of time-loop. Luckily, I had Michelob ULTRA’s ASMR inspired ad (listen to it with headphones), and Bud Light’s Game of Thrones mashup to remind me this is indeed 2019.

AB InBev dominated the time of possession during the commercial breaks much like New England did on the field. In total, AB InBev purchased five-and-a-half minutes of ad space during the game, and the move worked as their ads were some of the most tweeted about during the game and had some of the best recall amongst Super Bowl advertisements.


Last year’s Super Bowl advertisements featured a show down between beverage giants Coke and Pepsi, but we’ll have to wait till next year for a rematch as Coke was noticeably absent this year’s broadcast. In fact, some of the buzz from this year’s Super Bowl is about who wasn’t a part of the commercials. In addition to Coke, cannabis company Acreage Holdings grabbed plenty of spotlight after news of their ad calling for the legalization of medical marijuana was rejected by CBS. With a $5 million price tag per 30-second spot, receiving coverage for not advertising or having your commercial rejected by the network may just be the more cost-efficient method to promoting your product. It will be interesting to see if getting intentionally rejected emerges as a trend for brands in the future.

Those who did pony up the money for a 30-second spot or eleven can rest assured that viewers were paying attention during the breaks in the game. 95% of Numerator Insights respondents to a Super Bowl focused Microsurvey said they’ll be paying attention during the ads. As a habitual channel-jumper myself, I can confirm that the Super Bowl is one of the rare events when I’m not constantly bouncing around between channels.


Celebrity guest-spots and dogs still seem to be the most popular go-to’s for advertisers looking to give their commercials a boost during the big game. These tried and true methods continue to work Sunday with Pepsi leaning on the trio of Steve Carrell, Lil’ John and Cardi B, while Budweiser, Amazon and Avocados from Mexico all made their commercials instantly more appealing by featuring dogs. While the slow and eventual takeover of our world by robots in surely well on its way, their appeal in commercials is lacking.

While Gisele’s husband winning yet another Super Bowl seemed to be as much of an eventuality as the previously mentioned robot takeover, the commercials during the Super Bowl continued being fresh and the topic of much conversation. While there was strong recall of the ads among Numerator panelists, only 23% claimed that the ads made them think more positively of the brands.



Random Thoughts:

  1. Not sure what will haunt my dreams more, Mint Mobile’s chunky milk ad or Guillermo del Toro’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trailer.
  2. I didn’t realize till this morning that that was Sarah Michelle Gellar in the Olay commercial, wish she would have gone full Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the ad.
  3. The best two-minutes of football occurred during the NFL’s 100 Year Game ad. Marshawn Lynch was the real MVP on Sunday.