Beyond Football: The Super Bowl's Most Remarkable Ads Delivered

It feels like January is pretty much reserved for Super Bowl hoopla. So much is made to create buzz around what a majority of Americans see as the winter season's silver lining, a sacred, cult-like event that garners nearly more worshipers than the Man upstairs.

The thing is, over the years, the Super Bowl has kind of developed into something extending far beyond the sphere of sports, with people who can't even tell you who's playing getting excited about it (*clears throat* me).

Indeed, there are three different categories that attract non-football lovers to the early February annual event:

Because we're super data-happy and we were dying of curiosity about the Instagram activity surrounding all of the aforementioned, we decided to dig into each of the subjects.

So while you're still figuring out what happened to the roman numerals, here is the first post in our three-part series where we'll be exploring the Super Bowl beyond football. We begin by breaking down what Instagram had to say about this year's ads. #PuppyMonkeyBaby, anyone?


What would you buy with 5 million dollars? A few crazy cars, a Cribs-worthy home, perhaps go on a trip around the world? You could also just purchase a 30 second spot in the advertising lineup of 'Murica's favorite night of the year. You read that right. Five. Million. Dollars. Thirty. Seconds.

For the big guys up the corporate ladder, it's a spend that makes a lot of sense for business. There truly is nothing quite like it when it comes to exposure, and if you hit it a homerun score a touchdown, the chatter that builds around your brand is worth the investment alone.

While it's an opportunity for companies to really experience a moment if properly executed, when you look at the bundle of them together, it can also be a clear indicator of societal trends and the state of what is resonating with people across the Nation.

This year, we noticed that most ads fell under one or more of the following categories:

Snickers fed Marilyn. Pepsi had Janelle dancing through the decades. Jeff Goldblum winked at the Jeffersons. Audi blasted off with Bowie. Jeep lived a thousand lives. We learned that Super Bowl babies were a thing.

Animals (always a big winner)
Heinz wanted you to #MeetTheKetchups. Marmot almost made you want to get a marmot as a pet companion(or a girlfriend). Honda sang with sheep. Doritos (1/2) faked out supermarket clerks with dogs.

Star Power
Skittles dreamed on with Steven Tyler. Amazon reminded us that Baldwin never won an Oscar, Dan Marino never won a championship and Missy dropped a new beat. Bud Light formed a party with Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan (they have the best caucus). Kia made Christopher Walken through someone's closet. T Mobile dialed the Hotline Bling. Arnold reminded us that he still has muscles. Liam Neeson came from the future.

Absurd Inclinations
Doritos (2/2) can help deliver babies. Shock Top can make you hallucinate bar banter. Mountain Dew thought that putting together a puppy, a monkey and a baby would be a good idea (turns out it was). Hyundai made us believe that a Ryan Reynolds world was possible, women everywhere rejoiced. Avocados from Mexico incubated Scott Baio.

Social Undertones
Colgate wants you to save water. Budweiser wants you to give a damn. Quicken Loans thinks mortgages should be easy enough for children to get. SunTrust wants you to stop holding your breath. Mini Cooper wants you to defy labels. We learned how to text No More.

Now, in case you were still skeptical as to why the Super Bowl is relevant, here is a quick breakdown of its hashtag impressions:

The #superbowl50 hasthtag reached almost 7 million people in one day. The #superbowl hashtag reached over 1 billion-with-a-b people in one day. The #SB50 hashtag reached over 1.1 billion-with-a-b pepople in one day. The @superbowl50 official Instagram account EARNED almost 35 million organic impressions on game day.

That is over 2 billion ORGANIC impressions in one day. I'll give you a sec for that to compute.

Can we get back to the ads?

While the brands were all benefitting from much pre-game hype with early releases leading up to D-Day - people were so excited, tweets like this were trending - it remained to be seen which commercials were actually going to knock it out of the ballpark field. In fact, many of those companies were merely wetting our whistles with their fun spots to create more buzz around them, but the versions that actually aired on game day were either shortened or altogether different.

You probably had your favorites, but there was no doubt as to who the clear "winners" (and I use that term lightly) of the night were. While much ado was made about ratings and Twitter discussions (Twitter?! Pff), it's time to zoom in on the Instagram noise and whether a 5 million dollar TV spot also reverberates on, let's face it, the actual most important platform of all.

Break It Down

Hashtag BaldwinBowl. This was Amazon's first-ever TV ad and they went in with a bang. Not only did it have star power x 10000, but it actually showcased the use of the product AND Missy Elliott anounced the release of her new track. Can you say #winning?

The #BaldwinBowl benefited from a lot of pre and post-game hype, with the hashtag getting over 2 million impressions in a short few days. Bonus points for coming up with a unique, completely unpolluted hashtag.

Who on earth would have ever thought that the words ultrasound and Doritos would ever be uttered in the same sentence, let alone be the premise of an actual television commercial. And that's what happens when you let your consumers generate your ads. In the best way possible. This one got a ton of people chirping (both good and bad things) afterwards. Let's let the 'gram be the judge.

While Doritos didn't attribute an ad-specific hashtag like its peers did, the #Doritos tag still garnered significant momentum on the night of the Super Bowl, with a stunning reach of over 1 million. It's clear that Doritos is not only an important advertiser for the network, but the brand is also an intrinsic part of the event, with people posting their Doritos-eating #SB50 ways, leading to over 1.2 million organic earned impressions on D-Day.

Mountain Dew
It's just as absurd as it sounds, it's a super bowl ad that's making fun of super bowl ads. Say what you will about this one, but we bet that jingle is still in your head. Puppy.Monkey.Baby.

Whoever came up with that (thanks, BBDO) and had to sell this pitch and actually succeeded in doing so deserves to win for that reason alone. That's over 10 million in organic reach in just one day. #puppymonkeybaby


No one wants to be a "shortsighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution" by any standards, let alone the Queen's standards. So needless to say, Budweiser's campaign triggered a ton of reaction.

They also teamed up with a bunch of celebrities that day in an effort to spread their message across an even broader scale.

The @budweiser account added almost 1.8K followers in the 2 days around the Super Bowl alone, which is leaps and bounds from their average. Needless to say, the #GiveADamn hasghtag demonstrated that people did indeed give a damn.

Not only is Pepsi the lucky sponsor of the halftime show (#pepsihalftime), but they also always elect to run a star-studded ad that encapsulates the Joy of Pepsi. This year's Janelle Monae dance party was a bit of a bust with viewers - although I thought the nostalgic spot was fun - but Pepsi wins anyway because of their all-encompassing presence.

More on Pepsi in our celebrity bowl breakdown coming later this week.

Pepsi's audience growth spiked on Super Bowl day, adding almost 2K followers to their rapidly growing account.

Stay tuned for more Super Bowl aftermath chatter coming in the next few days, as we touch upon the other important subjects, food and celebs (not football).

If you're looking to get these types of insights for your brand, drop us a line, we would love nothing more than to talk!