Authenticity, Adaptability and Activism: Three Takeaways from This Year’s Super Bowl Commercials


If you step into the Chartwell office the morning following the Super Bowl, you’ll never fail to hear a discussion about the hits and misses in the highly anticipated commercials that come with the big game. At $5.6 million for a 30-second spot and internet fame on the line, every one of them is going for best commercial or at least most talked about.

While most organizations cannot afford to spend millions on a single commercial, this year’s batch of Super Bowl ads does provide some key takeaways that anyone can use when creating an ad campaign.


Google’s “Loretta” was near the top of everyone’s list for favorite commercial. With no fancy visuals, no celebrities, no over-the-top humor, it simply relayed the story of a widower trying to remember his wife who has passed. It had fans everywhere going from cheers to tears.

What made this commercial stand out in a competitive field of both humorous and heart-warming commercials? It was authentic. The story is one that most of us can relate to in some capacity, either through our own experiences or someone we know. It also didn’t hurt that it was based on a real person whose voice and photos were featured in the commercial. By taking the time to create authentic messaging, Google showed they cared about improving our lives and making that connection with us.


Any great marketing campaign should be adaptable to share its appeal to a wider audience. Commercials like Walmart’s Pickup service continue to grow and adapt, this year featuring visitors from outer space. In previous versions, they’ve shown iconic cars like the Batmobile and the Scooby Doo van picking up supplies. Creating a campaign that can be tweaked not only widens the audience your organization can appeal to but also provides an opportunity to share your message in fresh ways.

Adaptability also means being reactive to any issues in the marketplace. For example, when Kobe Bryant and others died in that terrible helicopter crash, Planters paused the Mr. Peanut commercials where the character appears to die in a car accident. Marketing campaigns should be monitored on a regular basis so any changes, whether based on performance or outside factors, can be made in a timely fashion.


As younger generations become bigger shares of the market, they have shown a desire to support organizations that share and promote their values. This year’s Super Bowl commercials did not disappoint with commercials promoting diversity in gender, race and body type, among other issues.  Olay created a series of commercials that not only featured female celebrities but also former astronaut Nicole Stott to promote conversations about women in the STEM industry.

As discussed in a previous blog, corporate activism in marketing can be a gamble. However, for organizations that are looking to appeal to a younger audience, it may be a direction worth considering. This kind of marketing has the potential to pay off in big dividends but may require not only strategizing the campaign concepts but also evaluating your organization’s values. If you are not walking the walk, your message may come off as inauthentic and have the opposite effect you are seeking.

Super Bowl commercials are always a big hit and while we may never see our commercials the night of the big game, every organization can benefit from creating campaigns that share who they are, what they believe in and what they can do for their community. If you not sure how to start the process, Chartwell can help.