Marketing Association Amsterdam · Marketing Theories · Video Marketing · Viral videos

Superbowl Sunday: wieners, ketchup and Ryan Reynolds..

The 50th Superbowl Sunday… the season finale is one of the most watched sports events of the year; every year. This year’s viewing rates aren’t released yet, but based on previous figures the estimated number of people watching, amounted to 117M. Due to an unfortunate series of events (i.e. living in the Netherlands, as opposed to the U.S., not subscribing an extended sports package, also not finding a good stream, and not wanting to stay up until 4am in the morning), I did not watch the game last night. I can’t say I’m that upset that I missed the match, because even though I lived in the States, I didn’t grow up getting (American) football drilled into childhood, so I lack the communal sentiment. I am, however, sad that I missed the show. And by that I mean the half-time program (sorry for the bad quality..), the legendary commercials, and the puppy-bowl.

The Superbowl has grown into one of the world’s best TV marketing events. During the breaks, the biggest brands showcase their new campaigns, trying to trump one another with humor. Which ones were the best this year? I just spent a lovely 1.5 hrs watching (and rewatching) this year’s TV commercials (all in the name of research, of course), and picked three that caught my eye.

The one for the women who don’t care about football but slaved in the kitchen to make snacks for everyone

Superbowl Sunday is something the whole house + neighbours + friends take part in; but what if not everyone likes football? You give them Ryan Reynolds; in many outfits and forms. In any marketing effort, it’s important to know your audience, and with this big football event, the audience doesn’t just consist of those who love football.

The one that’s based on hot-topic marketing, but isn’t really Superbowl Sunday material

Marketing, by personifying a company, is a road travelled within industries where brands experience difficulty differentiating from others. Taste is a sense that is challenging to sell with words and visuals. so brands try to give their product a human face (Aaker, 1997). In this Budweiser commercial Helen Mirren sells the beer as someone who cares about drinking responsibly. Despite a few weak attempts, the clip is not very funny. You would expect a beer brand (especially) to come up with something hysterical, but unfortunately Budweiser lagged behind. Maybe it’s because it’s so obvious what they’re trying to do here, or maybe it’s really just not that great, but in any case, it’s not very impressive attempt in a competitive environment like the superbowl.

The one with the most goodwill

Even though this commercial has a very clear target market (the 40-60 year old crowd), this speaks to a much bigger audience. The cute dachsund puppies (also called sausage dogs) are literally turned into hotdogs, as they run across an extremely green (but not even flower filled) field. Harry Nilsson’s ‘Without You’ gives the scene a hysterical twist, but also ties Heinz to nostalgic Generation X memories, as the ketchup family (yes; a family wearing Halloween costumes) tries to contain their excitement with very subtle facial expressions. This commercial really gets funnier every time I watch it. And, because either the (hot)dog or the (human) faces with surrounding Heinz bottle are always in the picture, the brand ensures that the viewer remembers what brand was linked to the funny broadcast, which can’t be said for many others.

A main takeaway here are that the commercial should resonate with your audience, which is more complex with such a big event. It should also be distinguishable to your brand, in between the large number of new and fun campaigns launched in the space of two hours. And lastly, it should fit the mood of the affair. I hope you enjoyed the ones that stood out to me / continue to watch others, because they are such an inspiration to us marketers, and also: it is a pretty fun (semi-responsible) way to procrastinate…

Written by: Susanne ten Brink


Aaker, J.L. (1997). Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research, 34, 347-356

Image Credits:
U.S. Department’s of Agriculture photostream via Flickr CC BY 2.0

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