If you’re anything like me, the Super Bowl is the one night a year you get to eat as many chicken wings and nachos you want without any of the usual guilt or judgement. If you’re part of the marketing team for one of the brands featured in a coveted Super Bowl commercial spot, this annual sporting event is more than just an excuse for excessive calorie consumption; this year, it was an opportunity to show the best of your brand to the largest audience in US television history.
Super Bowl 51 drew in over 170 million viewers and each 30-second advertisement came with a $5 million USD price tag. While Super Bowl advertisements typically deploy humor, celebrity cameos and catchy taglines to make the most of each $166k-second, this year’s most buzzed about commercials trended toward highlighting social issues and showcasing company values, including Audi’s Daughter, Airbnb’s #WeAccept, and Budweiser’s Born the Hard Way.
There’s no denying the risk associated with this approach, especially given the current political climate in the US, but perhaps Audi tweeted it best following the release of their ad: “When the entire world is watching, you have to stand for what you believe in”. Personally, I couldn’t agree more.