Super Bowl 50: Commercials Recap & Trends

Feb 8, 2016 | Digital

The big game was exciting . . . we assume. As a marketing agency, we were on the edge of our seats for the advertisements more than the score board. (Some of us skipped the game all-together, opting to watch the commercials online.)

There were three marketing trends on display in last night’s Super Bowl 50 commercials: what we are calling the branded PSA, disruptive and inspirational advertising.

Branded PSAs

The once ripe-for-parody public service announcements are now back, but updated and branded for today’s audiences. Last night, we saw cause advertising from big brands like Colgate, Budweiser and the NFL for issues from responsible water use to drunk driving to domestic violence. These spots, while not focusing solely on pushing product, are right on trend for 2016. According to market research on millennials, as reported by Forbes, consumers are now expecting brands and products to be socially responsible. This means when deciding to purchase a product, millennials aren’t just considering price, value and brand recognition; they are interested in whether the company is invested in social change as well as profits.

These spots do not need to be as obvious as Helen Mirren calling drunk drivers “pillocks.” They can be entirely subtle in the way they address values and social issues. One of our favorites, while released before the big game, was Axe’s spot which aims to redefine traditional masculinity.


As advertisers in the digital age, we understand that “attention grabbing” is harder than ever. That is why agencies and brands are focusing on disruptive marketing. Disruptive marketing confronts consumers with the unexpected and ridiculous. Disruptive advertising requires creativity and, often, a sense of humor to be truly successful. While we were hoping for more big game brands to embrace disruptive marketing, there were a few which truly stood out on Sunday.


Let’s not forget (even though some of us may want to) that the big game is about sports. Playing to that audience, several advertising brands chose to make their spots feel like a training montage or a locker room pep talk in a sports movie. These commercials aim to make the consumers feel as if they can achieve incredible goals or share in the brand’s rich history by purchasing the brand’s product.