Every year we see Super Bowl ads run the gamut from celeb cameos, surreal comedy and social good spots (our specialty). Each one is vying to be that ad that gets talked about the next day and stands out as the year’s memorable creative.
In the case of social good advertisements, the best ideas are the ones where the connection between the company and the message is apparent and tangible. As people become increasingly (and justifiably) cynical of big brand affirmations of their own goodness, it’s crucial that organizations have proof that what they’re doing is making a difference.
Here are some of our favorites, and why we think they knocked it out of the park, or to stay in football terms, kicked it through the uprights.
Microsoft’s spot about their Xbox Adaptive Controller was a thoughtful, earnest representation of inclusion and had the evidence—in the footage of kids using their controllers—to make that contribution real. They didn’t just pay lip service to the idea of accessibility, they proved how their product is making a difference. Having an audio-description version available is just the considerate cherry on top.
Google ran two distinct, unrelated spots during the Super Bowl but the core premise behind both was the same: Google products directly help people.
The stripped-down “Job Search for Veterans” is a good example of how a search tool can make a difference. Rather than flaunting their own thoughtfulness, the spot actually has helpful takeaways and a call-to-action for veterans that makes it feel honest.
100 Billion Words was more proof of how a product can bring people together, and the closing reveal of the most translated words in the world reinforced our basic empathy for one another and repudiated the idea that most of our digital communication is simply toxic.
A dalmatian, Dylan, and those iconic Clydesdales…there’s almost too much going on in Budweiser’s spot, but the slow zoom out to the wind turbines reaffirms the brand’s green energy commitment. It’s also no coincidence that the ad showed the potential beauty of turbines in nature—pushing back against the frequent criticism that they’re an eyesore. While this creative was more fictionalized, it still made its social-good stance visible and obvious.
2019’s Super Bowl ads carried a larger thesis about authenticity, which has become a board room buzzword about reaching an audience by mirroring their experience and replicating the way they talk. But real authenticity is when you’re honest about yourself and your message—none of these ads tried to appeal to some core demographic or act cooler than they were. They just came out and said, “Here’s what we’re doing and why we think it’s good.” That straightforwardness should be a source of inspiration for anyone working in social good marketing. If you believe in the good of what you’re doing, make it real for other people and trust that they’ll see it too.