Super Bowl LIII — At least there were commercials

Another Big Game is in the books as the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in what could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a nail-biter. At 13-3, it was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history. Given the number of failed third-down conversions, it’s not surprising that the other Super Bowl record to be recorded that day was for the longest punt — when Rams kicker Johnny Hecker booted one 65 yards from inside his own end zone.

The lack of drama on the field meant that it was up to the commercials to deliver a memorable experience. Advertisers plan and save all year for this monumental spectacle of broadcasting, and at the current $5.25 million for a 00:30 spot, it’s a big gamble. Did it pay off? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights, lowlights, and what-the-heck-did-I-just-watch-lights.

True stories

Rather than spinning epic fictional tales or relying on Hollywood celebrity cameos, many of the memorable ads this year took real stories of real people and leveraged the emotional impact that reality can bring.

Verizon took this approach with a powerful ad featuring LA Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn being reunited with the first responders who saved his life after he was hit by a speeding drunk driver. The ad was part of a campaign called, “The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here,” which features 11 NFL players and one coach who were saved by first responders.

Microsoft returned to Super Bowl advertising after a four-year absence with its “We All Win” commercial. The two-minute spot tells the stories of how the Xbox Adaptive Controller is leveling the playing field for several young gamers with disabilities and allowing them to interact with their friends in ways never before possible. 

There were also some good history lessons. Take Hennessy’s retelling of the bicycle racer Major Taylor, who became the most famous person in the world in 1902. Or Jim Beam’s tale about its recovery at the end of Prohibition. On a historic night of winning his sixth ring, it makes you wonder if Tom Brady’s story will make a commercial in a hundred years or so.

Reaching out

Toyota took a true story and ran with it in what was another trend this year — celebrating the achievements of women. The RAV4 Hybrid commercial told us about Toni Harris, the first woman to get a full-ride college football scholarship for a non-specialist (e.g., kicker) position.

Serena Williams brought a strong message about female empowerment to her Super Bowl ad for Bumble. Her voiceover speaks to not waiting to be invited in and not waiting for change to happen. “Don’t wait to be told your place. Take it.”
As AdWeek points out in this article, women represent about 45% of the NFL’s fan base. And advertisers are seeing this as a way to break through the clutter of traditionally male-focused campaigns.


Working in the marketing business, when you see a finished ad run on TV, it’s hard not to imagine the process that led to its creation — the hours of concepting, treatments, meetings and pitches. Multiple internal and external decision-makers are involved at every step. With that in mind, we’d love to have been a fly on the wall during the development of the Mint Mobile ad featuring chunky milk.

And it appeared that Sprint just took the free-form creative process and made a commercial out of it. Remember that adage about there being no bad ideas in a brainstorm? That’s how you get a puppymonkeybaby.
So, what were your favorite or least favorite Super Bowl ads this year? What struck a chord with you, good or bad? What mattered?
Stacy Goebel

Stacy Goebel

Social Media Director

You know how excited Buddy the Elf gets about Santa? That's how social guru Stacy Goebel feels about new ideas. Her favorite is when she gets to think out of the box to build integrated marketing strategies for clients. Grateful 2019 HITMC Agency Marketer of the Year.

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