About 111 million people watched SuperBowl 51.
There was a lot of drama from a memorable game … a suspenseful half-time … and ads that produced controversy.
Advertisers paid around $5 million for a 30-second spot.
Was it worth it?

  1. None of the commercials justified the cost. If you judge a commercial by the ROI, none of the commercials could be justified.

No database of respondents. No direct sales.
It was for the most part image advertising—hoping that prospects might like the brand … but without any proof that it worked or was worthwhile.

  1. The commercials failed to have a strong call to action (CTA). An accountable commercial will promote and clearly display an 800 number, URL, test, or other way of allowing a response.

Only one advertisement allocated enough time in the commercial access or record the CTA.
Out of the 66 ads I saw:

  • 1 had an 800 number
  • 7 had URLs
  • 5 had Twitter symbols
  • 4 had Facebook symbols
  • 20 had a hashtag symbol
  • 4 used an Instagram symbol

Here is an avocado hashtag:
Avacados from Mexico
Here is Unlimited Movies economic (?) use of symbols:
Unlimited Movies
Here is the tiny 800 number effort by T-Mobile:
T-Mobile SUper Bowl Ad
The strongest ad?
This one was also the most successful: 84 Lumber.
They created an ad designed to compel people to see the conclusion of the commercial.
See below:

Well done. Enticing. But it created enemies (see below) and likely no sales.

  1. Creating ads with a liberal political message in a tense political climate was not smart!

A private company President can make any statement he wants to with his company. If he wants to risk animosity and lose sales, fine.
But a public company should be more careful. The CEO should be helping the shareholders, not  endangering them. The economic, political, and culture war can lose customers.
If the companies were trying to create commercials which give a positive image to the company and increase sales, six companies failed badly.
The companies which chose to announce a liberal political statement were:

  • Google—subliminal message included a rainbow flag
  • Coca-Cola
  • Airbnb (“We all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”)

Plus …

  • Audi: Everyone in principle could agree with equal pay for equal work for women. Ironically, the company was later outed for having an all-male board.
  • Budweiser: This commercial featured the founder of the company, an immigrant from Germany. It was well done and no one could object to it—except the issue of immigration has become highly charged, and looked to many like a political statement.
  • 84 Lumber: This may have been the best commercial from a strategy of driving interest with a high quality commercial. It used the immigration issue very boldly and with full continuity. It basically attacked Trump’s immigration policies about the wall.


  1. The most bizarre commercial: Cartoon Mr. Clean was seductively interacting with a real woman—strange, awkward, but very memorable.
  1. Social Media. 6 million Super Bowl Tweets went out. There were lots of interactions … but no evidence of sales.
  1. YouTube Views. A good index of an ad’s popularity is YouTube.

The winner? Anheuser Busch’s “Born the hard way” with over 20 million views.
The T-Mobile ad “Unlimited Movies” with Justin Bieber got about 9 million views.
A cute Skittles commercial called “Romance”, got a little over 8 million views.
Audi’s “Drive Progress” about equality (and not the car) got about 8 million views.
The 84 Lumber ad mentioned above had around 2 million views.

  1. The Twitter political war.

Trump fans and supporters were the most upset with Budweiser’s commercial. The video received about 15,000 mentions on Twitter, largely with the #BoycottBudweiser hashtag.
Airbnb was mentioned 854 times with the #WeAccept hashtag, and recorded an average 425 interactions per tweet.
Interested in a commercial done the right way? We have created over 400 videos and TV commercials (plus 11 infomercials). Give me a call at (310) 212-5727 to discuss your idea or email me at craig@cdmginc.com. Our agency will put together a powerful commercial that gets results!
Here is a sample of our work. Click here.