What Nonprofits Can Learn from Super Bowl Ads

What Nonprofits Can Learn from Super Bowl AdsFor those who tuned in to Super Bowl XLVII, its was clear that the advertisements themselves had taken center stage at the largest annual sporting event on television. In fact, 40% of adults claim to watch the Super Bowl exclusively for the commercials.

We marvel at the efforts these advertisers put forth in an attempt to engage the viewing audience.  They enlist creative agencies and invest top dollar to manufacture spots that will hopefully become the talk of the water cooler.

There is no question that when done well, commercials can elicit emotions and even action from the viewing audience. So which ads were the most successful at getting their message out? Though “success” may be subjective, here are valuable marketing lessons nonprofits can learn from this year’s top rated Super Bowl spots:


1.) Stand for Something Bigger - Jeep “America Is Whole Again” 

Jeep successfully associates their brand with the nation’s sentiment toward our country’s armed forces. Partnering with the United Service Organizations Inc. (USO), this spot features dramatic images of reuniting families and soldiers intercut with Jeep vehicles escorting soldiers back home. “Because when you’re home, we’re more than a family—we’re a nation,” states Oprah, concluding her narration as we ride along with a Jeep Wrangler. Jeep was effective in reminding the audience of a larger topic then masterfully weaving in their image and promise as a brand.


2.) Sentiment Wins - Ram Trucks “Farmer”

Many of the top ranking Super Bowl spots on USA Today’s Ad Meter were sentimental in nature (including Budweiser “Brotherhood” and Jeep “America is Whole Again”). Its clear that the commercial audience is receptive to dramatic messages that resonate with individual and cultural ideals.


3.) Tell A Story – Audi “Prom”

Nothing grabs the attention of a viewer better than a great story. As with all good stories you need a few key ingredients: a hero, a call to action, and a victory. This spot by Audi presents all three in a feel good, coming-of-age vignette about a young man empowered with a new sense of independence and his Dad’s Audi, of course.

4.) Connect With Your Audience  - Budweiser’s “Brotherhood”

Only a few commercials have truly leveraged the power of Social Media. This spot from Budweiser has become the third most shared Super Bowl ad of all time in just five days by engaging the Twitter network. The beer brand invited fans to help name the star of the spot, a baby Clydesdale horse, on Twitter by using the hashtag #clydesdales. This effort demonstrates the level of participation that social media can achieve as Budweiser claims to have received more than 60,000 tweets making name recommendations. The winning name? “Hope.”


5.) Give Them A Reason To Come Back - Cars.com “Wolf”

Cars.com began this “take the drama out of car buying” campaign shortly before the Super Bowl. Commercials featuring hidden cameras filming car buyer focus groups who bare witness to what they think are unscripted “dramatic” events. Their reactions are both authentic and humorous. Cars.com hopes that viewers can relate to the concept that removing headaches associated with purchasing a vehicle is a good idea. When the Cars.com Super Bowl commercial “Wolf” aired, viewers familiar with the campaign were intrigued by a new scenario where they expected a humorous outcome.

Follow these tips when producing your organization’s next video to ensure your message will resonate with your  audience.



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