During my career I’ve had the thrill of attending four Super Bowls and this year will be my fifth! It’s an amazing experience and everything you might imagine. But the one thing I often miss is the chance to watch the commercials. Super Bowl ads have become almost as much of an attraction as the game itself. This year, I won’t be missing the ads.
I’ve been invited to serve as master of ceremonies for an exciting event during Super Bowl LII weekend in Minneapolis. Force Multiply: Impact Beyond the Game is a special showcase celebrating the advertising around the big game and exploring the evolution of marketing in recent years. During the event on Saturday morning, we’ll preview a selection of 2018 TV spots set to debut during Super Bowl LII and discuss the role of purpose driven advertising in our society today. A star-studded line up of media, advertising, and marketing executives will be featured and proceeds from the event will benefit Folds of Honor, a national nonprofit providing scholarships to military families.
During the event, we’ll be discussing various topics, but one I’d like to reflect on here is the shift in focus of Super Bowl ads in recent years. Going back to my earliest memories of Super Bowl advertising brings me to this iconic McDonald’s commercial from 1993, which had the sole purpose of driving sales and aligning the brand with two of basketballs most iconic figures.
In the years since, ads from the big brands and perennial Super Bowl advertisers such as Pepsi, Snickers, Old Spice, and Volkswagen have continued to use their :30-seconds to drive sales or promote a brand attribute. But something happened in 2015, when P&G used its multi-million dollar ad spend for Always to make a statement about the power of girls.
That same year the NFL donated airtime to support a chilling commercial for No More to end domestic violence and advertisers like Nationwide, Coca Cola, and Toyota shifted their messaging toward social issues. This shift continued during 2016 and 2017, leading us to this year’s major focus on purpose driven advertising. With everything from disaster relief to clean water to animal rights, this year’s game is likely to turn the tide. Check out Budweiser’s planned spot below.
Like the shift in advertising around the big game, we are also experiencing an important shift across almost all marketing and communications efforts today. Consumers expect brands to take a stand on important social issues and use their platform to make a difference in the world. The most successful brands of this generation and the next will be those that can meaningfully find their purpose and authentically connect to their customer. I’m excited to be at the center of this evolving industry and to have the opportunity to work with organizations that understand this fact. This year’s Super Bowl commercials will likely provide a peak into where advertising and marketing is headed and I’m looking forward to a great discussion this Saturday in Minneapolis.