Super Bowl Commercials 2014: Components of an Awesome Ad During the Big Game

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2014

This undated still provided by Wonderful Pistachios shows a frame grab from the company's 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII Ad. Advertisers that have traditionally focused on skimpily clad models and lowest-common denominator humor are promising more sedate ads in 2014. The changes come as advertisers seek to get the most out of the estimated $4 million that ads cost during Super Bowl XLVIII. (AP Photo/Wonderful Pistachios)
Uncredited/Associated Press

The Super Bowl XLVIII matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos has generated plenty of discussion over the past two weeks, but the ads and commercials set for the big game have encountered the same hype.

Although a plethora of commercials will run on Super Sunday, only a select few will be talked about in the hours and days after they air. 

Here is the essential game information you need to know, followed by a closer look at the key components of an awesome Super Bowl ad. 


When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV Info: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Spread: Denver to win by 3, courtesy of Bovada



Viewers expect to laugh at Super Bowl ads. While there are a fair share of commercials that strike a serious chord or opt to provoke thought, the majority are created with the intent of being funny. 

And while not everyone shares the same sense of humor, the key is finding a way to appeal to the majority. Whether the ad utilizes slapstick humor, a heavy dose of sarcasm or some other form of comedy, the right amount can make an ad an instant success.

According to Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials executive producer Bob Horowitz, big-game ads are successful when they are able to achieve one of two goals, per Forbes' Jacquelyn Smith:

They must entertain with clever, over-the-top–but not too silly–creative that has viewers wanting to re-tell punch lines at the water cooler the next morning. Or the commercial has to tug at the heart strings, providing an emotional connection for viewers and the corporate message. Viewers watch the game to be entertained by those 30 and 60-second commercials. If the spots don’t meet those entertaining expectations, $4 million is wasted.

Horowitz didn't point out the importance of being funny first by accident. Humor is the easiest way to win over an audience and get people talking about your brand. 

EDGE Collective managing editor Ryan Aynes adds that "successful ads are often funny without giving into to gimmicks—and above all else, Super Bowl ads are about being creative and entertaining the audience," per Smith.

From the look of this year's early showings, it appears that several ads will be just fine on this front. 


Star Power

A solid Super Bowl ad can be made even better with a simple celebrity cameo. 

Take Bud Light's Arnold Schwarzenegger teasers, for example. If it were just a random former bodybuilder dressed up like Bjorn Borg at a pingpong table, it would be more frightening than funny. However, when you add recognizable stars to the mix, people are going to not only watch, they're also going to remember what they saw.

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 10:  Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 Chevrolet, looks on during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 10, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Phot
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

There seem to be more and more celebrity appearances on Super Sunday each year, and the power of star presence is an obvious reason for that. 

Whether it's Arnold, Stephen Colbert, Danica Patrick, John Stamos, Scarlett Johansson or another star, landing a big name will only add to the intrigue of an already highly anticipated 30- or 60-second spot. 



An ad doesn't always have to be funny or feature a superstar in order to qualify as awesome or memorable. If the commercial, regardless of what's being advertised, is able to provoke thought among the viewers, it's going to be memorable.

The best example is Apple's famous "1984" ad, which is widely regarded as the greatest big-game commercial of all time. The one-minute 30-year-old ad not only does an excellent job of hyping the product, but it also leads you to ponder the future.

Other ads generate thoughtful discussion by addressing a controversial or polarizing subject. Either way, it's rare that a Super Bowl ad digs below the surface or truly makes you think. Therefore, the ability to provoke thought can be a key component of a memorable ad and is a surefire way to leave a lasting mark.


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