What We Learned From the Ads of Super Bowl LVII

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In our creative programs, we teach students that if they want to be the best, they have to study the best.

In that spirit, let's see what we can learn from advertising's biggest day of the year:

1. One-Off Spots Are Dead

There was a time when Super Bowl ads launched with no warning—and the big game ad itself was the highlight. When Apple's million-dollar 1984 spot dropped, it came as a shock.

Not so anymore. Today's ads come after weeks of teasers and tidbits...and are followed up by heavyweight campaigns that last for months.

2. Nostalgia is Selling

From a Caddyshack-inspired Serena Williams spot for Michelob Ultra, to John Travolta singing Grease tunes for T-Mobile, nostalgia was everywhere this year. Even Breaking Bad was back to hawk PopCorners.

Perhaps it's an indication of where America is at culturally. As Tim Calkins (marketing professor at Northwestern University) told CBS, "Companies are sticking with lighthearted advertising as a safe approach given all the challenges facing the country."

3. The Power of Raw Emotion

If you trust the lists from AdAge, AdWeek, The Drum, and more, nobody won this Super Bowl more than The Farmer's Dog (besides maybe the Chiefs). The company was a new entrant to the Super Bowl ad parade, and they really brought it. Their touching story about a little and her dog growing up together brought many, literally, to tears. No celebrities. No CGI budget. Just pure storytelling...and it's made more impact than even the most big-budget affairs. 

4. The Stunts Still Make Waves

Last year, Coinbase made noise with their floating QR code. This year, Tubi matched that energy with their attention-hijacking prank on audiences, featuring a fake return to the game and an anxiety-inducing trick that made viewers think someone was flicking through the Tubi menu.

They weren't alone. Molson-Coors also made news with their Coors vs. Miller ad battle (that ended up being a Blue Moon commercial)---a gimmick that resulted in "Who owns Blue Moon beer?” topping Google searches nationwide.

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