Super Bowl commercials are a coveted part of the big game-day experience. It’s one of the few times a year companies shell out the big bucks for a chance to have their message broadcast to millions of football fans across the United States.
Companies like Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Doritos have become fan favorites for their annual Super Bowl slots. These campaigns are often prefaced with promotions that start weeks before the big event. Smaller brands have made their mark too, with delightful ads that leave a lasting impression.
With Super Bowl LIV kicking off this Sunday, we decided to take a look at some of the biggest (and best) ways brands have used animation to captivate audiences. There’s celebrities, nostalgia, explainer ads, and a powerful story that pulls at heartstrings.
New York Presbyterian: Unmasking A Killer (Super Bowl 2016)
For companies looking to develop their own animated explainer videos, here’s one that made the big screen. New York Presbyterian used simple animation to help explain the complexities of immunotherapy, a type of innovative treatment used to help fight cancer.
What makes this great: Sometimes simpler is better when explaining a difficult concept. This video uses simple imagery to help viewers understand how cancer impacts the body. It also shows how doctors are using immunotherapy help fight disease. The animation uses a blend of red, black and white — New York Presbyterian’s brand colors — to work alongside the narrative in a series of fluid images.
Wix.com: “Start Stunning” (Super Bowl 2016)
Wix.com, a company that lets small businesses create their own websites, teamed up with DreamWorks Animation for their Super Bowl 50 campaign “Start Stunning.” The commercial features the characters of DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda 3” trying to figure out how to get more visitors to come to their restaurant. The answer? A great commercial, and an even better website from Wix.com.
What makes this great: Wix.com’s partnership with DreamWorks allowed both companies to showcase their brands. This made it easier for both companies to make an impact in a relevant way. They also get to showcase their latest products. The commercial also gives a nod to some of the Super Bowl’s more iconic campaigns, like the Budweiser frogs and the “Old Spice Guy.”
Lipton Brisk Teams With Eminem (Super Bowl 2011)
Rapper Eminem gets a fully-animated makeover in this Lipton Brisk iced tea ad from 2011. The commercial features a personal testimony from Eminem on “why he doesn’t do commercials.” It’s complete with an expletive-ridden (bleeped out, of course) narrative that’s fit for the artist. This commercial takes something as simple as drinking iced tea and takes it to a whole new level. It also speaks to a specific target audience.
What makes this great: Having a famous spokesperson on your side is a strong way to add some celebrity backing to your brand. Brisk was able to stretch the imagination and bring Eminem’s story to life through unique sets that took the famous rapper from inside the recording studio, to the top of a building and back again. He even grows a full head of hair at one point — but you’ll just have to watch it to see why.
Google: Parisian Love (Super Bowl 2010)
Google’s “Parisian Love” commercial made headlines for its use of what has become known as “storytelling through search.” Using only Google terms, the 52-second ad tells a love story that starts with a simple search for studying abroad in France, and ends with a search for “how to assemble a crib.”
The ad has garnered more than 7.8 million hits on YouTube since its debut. It also paved the way for other tech companies who have injected the “love story” narrative into their own campaigns. Google has launched their own “Search Stories” series since the ad. The documentary-style videos take a look at how real people use Google to follow their dreams.
What makes this great: The biggest draw from this campaign is its ability to pull at your heartstrings. But it also does a great job at teaching users how to make the most out of Google search. Viewers learn how to use Google’s Recommended Places, Google Translator, Google Maps. It even shows how to look up your airline flight straight from the Google homepage. The ad was also a bit of an experiment. It was created in-house by the “Google 5,” a team of student designers recruited from schools across the country to work as a part of the Google Creative Lab.
MetLife: Every Cartoon Ever (Super Bowl 2012)
MetLife said goodbye to Snoopy and the Peanuts as their official mascots in 2016. But before all was said and done, the cartoon characters made regular appearances as part of the insurance giant’s ad campaigns. MetLife used their mascots to tell a bigger story by rounding up other cartoons to show how insurance should be accessible to everyone.
What makes this great: MetLife decided to dive into the cartoon world to play off nostalgia. Different cartoons were used to represent people from all walks of life. It was a way to tell their story in a new way. But they also stuck to something their brand was prominently known for.