Super Bowl XLVI was no laughing matter for the New England Patriots.
But for the triumphant New York Giants and more than 100 million Americans, there couldn’t possibly have been more to celebrate if you love a good laugh. Of course, all this humor was enjoyed at the seriously staggering expense of $117,000 per second.
For the purposes of this Super Bowl, commercial research suggested by University of Washington Associate Professor Brian Marr (who leads MCDM’s Marketing & Branding class), I’ve created graphs below which are easy on the eyes and based around three categories; humorous, emotional and rational. I opted to extract the humorous classification of Super Bowl commercials from its more traditional role as a subset of the emotional category and made humor its own category.
In logging every in-game commercial Sunday, 56% of the 64 Super Bowl commercials I classified as Humorous. There were either eight or nine such commercials airing in each of Sunday’s four quarters with another pair of rib-ticklers at halftime.
More than one in four spots (28%) elicited emotion other than laughter (i.e. feelings of nostalgia, fun or fantasy), while 16% fell under the Rational category – generally defined as saving money with a purchase or believing a company’s promise to provide better service.
Only half a dozen in-game sponsors (10%) chose to use hash tags at the end of commercials; quite surprising given the immense popularity of Twitter.
Animals appear to be the key to advertisers’ bottom lines. Major corporations take the training of animals for funny commercials as seriously as PETA takes observing them for a couple of reasons:
- At least 114 million Americans are watching
- All these eyeballs are costing companies at least $3.5 million per commercial
All but one of the 10 commercials featuring animals as their focal point did so by portraying the animals as adorable (we forgive that hungry, man-chasing cheetah who gave up going after the Hyundai). Man’s best friend barked, exercised and crossed the finish line backwards into our hearts in half the animal commercials, while a real rabbit and monkeys joined some make-believe Coca-Cola bears in the others.
Oh here’s a news flash: Sex sells. One of every eight Super Bowl commercials featured celebrities like Danika Patrick, David Beckham and Victoria’s Secret top model Adriana Lima providing lots and lots of exposure to GoDaddy, H&M and Teleflora just in time for Valentine’s Day.
In my humble opinion, the absolute best commercial of NBC’s whole Super Bowl broadcast was Chrysler’s two-minute tribute by Clint Eastwood to Detroit and all America.
Not coincidentally, this masterpiece of a television tome had a bit of everything and proved virtually impossible to specifically classify. I chose Emotional as the true type of appeal with nostalgia overriding Eastwood’s superstar status as the focal point of NBC’s longest commercial.
First, it blanketed tens of millions of viewers with warm nostalgia. It did this through the raspy, unmistakable voice of universally popular Clint Eastwood. Besides Eastwood’s obvious celebrity, there was the promise of resilience and innovation, a sense of adventure, an absence of ego, and an almost overwhelming feeling of patriotism.
These were two magnificent minutes of pure theater, accounting for five percent of the 38 minutes of non-local advertising between the Super Bowl’s opening kickoff and final gun.
Surprisingly babies and cute kids squeezed into only one of every 16 Super Bowl sponsorships, while even the fail-safe fallback of sex got topped by cute animals selling products and services. What makes Eastwood’s Chrysler commercial virtually perfect is that it relies on no gimmicks. No hyper monkeys, naked M&Ms, cheesy smiles or slick special effects.
No, pure patriotism is the primary focal point of Eastwood’s dramatic challenge to America. It struck the perfect chord and cemented nostalgia as the most popular thread running through the 64 Super Bowl commercials.
It really was like watching an intoxicating movie trailer.
Oh yeah, there were five of those too. You can look for those under “Other.” I do have a life, you know.
A very special acknowledgement of fellow MCDM Cohort 10 Betsy Hauenstein for her meticulous work in creating all of the above infographics.