Superbowl 2016 an advertising warzone


February 7th 2016.

Levi Stadium, Santa Clara, California.

Denver Broncos vs Carolina Panthers, 36 players, 68,000 fans in the stands, estimated to exceed 2015’s 114.4 million viewers.

Stats don’t lie. This is one colossal event in the yearly calendar whether you are American or not.

As an advertiser this is one of the biggest events in the calendar. With ad spends estimated to have increased to be $5 million dollars per 30 second spot, the stage is set for some truly big things. Last year at Superbowl 49 was a big year for advertising with some incredible campaigns that captivated a nation for a lot longer than the paid for 30 second spot. Feminine health care brand Always and Leo Burnett’s ‘Like a Girl’ Campaign was ground breaking. Confronting a long and incorrect psychological construct that girls and women do things differently to men, the results were phenomenal. Providing girls a voice and a powerful platform to demonstrate what it really means to be a girl using #LikeAGirl. The advert was simply put, transformational. Viewed more than 90 million times it was last year’s second best viral video across the globe in 2015. In the campaign’s first three months it achieved media impressions of 4.4 billion. It won the PR Grand Prix at Cannes that summer and most importantly of all, it directly changed women and men’s perspectives on what the phrase ‘like a girl’ stood for.

Another advert that was simplistic in idea. Yet had a similarly transformational response with viewers, also winning the Grand Prix in its category at Cannes was ‘Interception’ by Volvo and Grey New York. Volvo the well-known “safe” automotive brand was at the time lacking awareness in one of the biggest markets- the US. Unable to commit to the financial costs of a 30 second or 60 second TV spot at the Superbowl they had a challenge. How do you disrupt one of the world’s biggest events and get Volvo talked about during the game?

The solution was simple. Everyone else is shouting about “me”, our brand or what we do. So why not let the customer do the talking, let them use the power they have. So targeting brand ambassadors and advocates of Volvo, they created a motive for conversation. When other car manufacturers commercials where airing and telling you to buy their car. Volvo asked you to tweet about a loved one who deserved a new Volvo X60 using the #VolvoContest. Simply flipping the consumerism of the event and making it about giving. Pretty ingenious, when BMW or Ford where on the TV, Volvo was being talked about instead. Earning 200 million impressions and 50,000 tweets containing the hash tag in 4 hours, the campaign trended both nationally and globally. Now that is a disruption campaign.

These are just two examples of the truly great adverts that we have seen recently during a Superbowl. Ahead of this year’s game we wanted to put together our prediction of the best adverts we might see this year at half time other than Coldplay.


  1. Pokemon- It is 20 years since the franchises creation and Nintendo have created a brilliant ad that captivates and universally unites the competition of sport.
  2. Shock Top Beer- Their teaser clip with T.J. Miller promises an unfiltered ‘Greatest Superbowl ad of all time’ and the teaser clip looks like it could deliver.
  3. Butterfingers- #BolderthanBold Superbowl 2016 campaign offers pro footballers up to $50,000 for any fines occurred as a result for celebrating a touchdown in the final three games, their teaser  with Terrell Owns looks like it could be something to keep an eye on.
  4. Kia- Christopher Walken and a sock puppet- with a “pairing” like this it is sure to stand out.


(Video owned by Nintendo)

(Picture by AP and ABC 7 News)




Jonny Agnew

Jonny is an Account Executive, brand planner, content creator and insight researcher.

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