Are you celebrating a huge Kansas City Chiefs comeback win or mourning a disappointing San Francisco 49ers collapse? If not, then you’re probably reminiscing about the best part of Super Bowl LIV for many people: the commercials. The first Sunday in February is known for a few hours of marketing interrupted repeatedly by football. Sometimes, the game will fog our memory of the marketing genius we see every year. To fix this, BrandStar compiled a list of its favorite Super Bowl commercials from 2010-2020 as a highlight reel of great advertising.
This commercial was the first installment of Snickers’ “you’re not you when you’re hungry,” campaign. It’s crazy to think that it’s been ten years since this tagline was first unveiled. Betty White and Abe Vigoda starred as the alter egos of hungry amateur football players. Having 80-plus year-old actors play in a tackle football game was just plain funny. The ad resonated with a variety of crowds and demographics because, well, Bette White’s screen appeal transcends generations.
This commercial garnered such an overwhelming response that Volkswagen made a sequel to it in 2012. The clip showed a young Star Wars dressed as Darth Vader trying out a familiar role: using the Force in real life. Volkswagen used this shared experience to showcase a new feature on its car, connecting with fans of the Rebels and the Evil Empire alike.
Chrysler’s commercial tugged at the heartstrings of the millions affected by the recession of the late 2000s. The economic crisis had finally hit bottom, and things were starting to look up in America. Clint Eastwood’s steady, determined voice urged viewers that, like an NFL team at halftime, now was the time to get back up and keep fighting.
The Chrysler corporation made another politically relevant and passionate commercial just a year after its Clint Eastwood ad. This Jeep commercial, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, welcomed home soldiers who fought in Iraq as the war was coming to an end. After 2013, Super Bowl commercials took a break from being serious and went back to their grandiose, lighthearted ways.
Overall, the Super Bowl commercials of 2014 were lighter and more playful than in the years prior. This Doritos commercial empowered underdogs and younger siblings all over the world by having the little brother come out on top in the sibling rivalry feud. And, of course, there was “dogback” riding.
The 2010s can be linked with the rise of New Age Feminism. This Always commercial reflects the changes that occurred socially throughout the whole decade. The clip highlights the fact that girls’ self-confidence plummets exponentially during puberty. Teaching girls while they’re young that “throwing like a girl,” “running like a girl,” and “fighting like a girl,” aren’t insults, but rather phrases that should be synonymous with strength.
In all honesty, the commercials of 2016 didn’t really stand out. This environmentally conscious commercial from Colgate, however, reminded everyone of a GOOD habit we tend to forget about: turning the water off while we brush our teeth. It’s something everyone should do but is not remembered by everyone. According to Colgate, around four gallons of water are wasted every time we don’t shut the water off while we brush our teeth. That’s more water than many people around the world have in a week.
As expected, the Super Bowl commercials of 2017 were incredibly political. Most focused on immigrant issues and what it means to be an American, but the one that caught everyone’s attention from old men to young girls was Audi’s commercial, “Daughter.” The social message from the luxury car brand threw everyone for a loop, but the message was clear: progress for everyone, and equal pay for equal work.
This intra-company feud of the decade is iconic. Doritos and Mountain Dew, both owned by PepsiCo, pulled all the pop culture reference tools out for this one. The commercial featured an A-list fire vs. ice rap battle between Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage (because Tyrion Lannister) and Morgan Freeman (because Morgan Freeman). Dinklage rapped Busta Rhymes’ rapid-fire verse in “Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown, while Freeman came back at him with Missy Elliott’s iconic opening verse in “Get Your Freak On”. This was a multi-generational masterpiece—the rap battle of the decade, nay, the century.
Doritos went from battle to collaboration in 2019 when it brought together an unlikely pairing: Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys. The commercial fuses “Acid Rap” (Chance’s second mixtape) aesthetics with the “I Want It That Way” music video. Chance even wrote a new verse for the boy band’s most famous song. Doritos pulls inspiration from the ‘90s and presents its own version of pop culture, just like pretty much every social media influencer did in 2019. Other brands delivered the same throwback theme, like Lil John for Pepsi and Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw and Jeff Bridges as the Dude for Stella Artois.
This year, the Super Bowl fell on Groundhog Day, and Jeep took full advantage of this “holiday” falling on the same day as the Super Bowl. Their commercial featured Bill Murray, star of the 1993 classic Groundhog Day. Murray revisits his character, the curmudgeonly weatherman Phil Connors, from the movie. Instead of trying to break the cycle of reliving the same day endlessly, Phil embraces the cycle after seeing the new Jeep Rubicon. The commercial also featured the hilarious reprise of Phil’s hilarious comic foil “Needlenose” Ned Ryerson, played by Stephen Tobolowsky. Jeep evoked a nice touch of nostalgia for Murray fans to the with this ad.
Now, if you’re not a multi-billion-dollar brand, you’re probably not paying $5-plus million for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial. But there are still ways to market around the Super Bowl that can help your brand achieve relevance and boost sales.