Just like the New England Patriots relied on teamwork this past Sunday to win the Big Game 10 to 3, the best advertising efforts at Super Bowl LIII also relied on collaboration.
From mashups and nostalgia to technology and big-name talent, some interesting (and entertaining) themes emerged among commercials from T-Mobile, Amazon’s Alexa, Pepsi, Burger King, Bud Light, and Doritos—to name a few.
Below, we take a look at some of the winning ads that aired during Super Bowl LIII.
From an Alexa ad that featured astronauts Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly and four actors including Harrison Ford, to a shout-out to “The Big Lebowski” and “Sex And The City,” starring Jeff Bridges and Sarah Jessica Parker, to sell Stella Artois, there was no shortage of familiar faces in this year’s ads.
The NFL topped last year’s “Dirty Dancing” Super Bowl spot with a star-studded ad celebrating its centennial. It even featured a prescient hold-my-beer moment with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his five (now six) Super Bowl rings. The ad scored the top spot in the USA Today Ad Meter.
Burger King’s cryptic #EatLikeAndy spot also relied on star power by repurposing vintage footage of artist Andy Warhol eating a Whopper. The spot only showed Warhol eating and the hashtag #EatLikeAndy.
“What we love about Andy is what he represents as an art icon and his message about the democratization of art,” said Marcelo Pascoa, head of global marketing for Burger King, in a statement. “Just like his art, America’s Favorite Burger, the Whopper is for everyone. Our commercial is an invitation for everyone in America to Eat Like Andy.”
Other big names that made it to the Super Bowl were Sarah Michelle Gellar for Olay; Steve Carrell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon for Pepsi; and Jason Bateman playing a snarky elevator operator in a Hyundai ad. A Mercedes-Benz ad also packed pop-culture references with rapper Ludacris, cartoon characters, and a killer whale.
Some ads from the Big Game reflected optimism about technology. Microsoft, for example, scored big on both the USA Today Ad Meter and Ipsos’ ranking with a spot for its adaptive Xbox controller that featured children who could now play video games despite their physical disabilities.
Amazon’s ad for Alexa, one of the more humorous ads of the night, poked fun at some fictitious mishaps with the virtual assistant.
Meanwhile, a trio of spots played on people’s fear of a tech-laden future. In both TurboTax’s Robochild and Michelob’s Robots spot, automatons fall short of humans, while Simplisafe leans on the fears of people being replaced by our robot overlords to sell home security systems.
Universally Appreciated Causes
Bumble’s female-empowerment message from Serena Williams didn’t disappoint. The best part of all is she’s not just talking the talk: The tennis champ is the co-creative director of Bumble’s new campaign, "The Ball Is in Her Court.
The Washington Post’s ad, which highlights the important role journalists play in keeping people informed about what is happening all over the world, is the publication’s first ad at the Big Game. The spot shines a light on the dangers journalists face, while also honoring some of the writers who have died in the line of duty.
Hold My Beer: Partnerships
Many brands partnered with other brands in online and offline promotions. After all, a Super Bowl buy is always better if it can be amplified beyond the big screen. For example, T-Mobile’s ads, which began before the Super Bowl when the company’s CEO announced on Twitter that T-Mobile would be making announcements during Super Bowl, featured joint promotions with Taco Bell and Lyft.
Meanwhile, Burger King worked with DoorDash on its Andy Warhol effort, while one of the most-talked-about ad of the night was the mashup of Bud Light’s medieval-themed campaign with HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Between taking shots at rivals Coors and Miller for using corn syrup in their beer, the spot morphed into a GoT promo in which the Bud Light Knight got his head crushed and a dragon incinerated the court.