Super Bowl 50 Commercials: What was Expected and What Happened

By Zach Leader, Marketing & Communications Intern

This year held one of the largest events of all time: the 50th NFL Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos overcame the Carolina Panthers and made history this Sunday and resulted in a huge win for Peyton Manning. For some of us, however, our focus wasn’t on the “Big Game,” but it was instead on the commercials. It’s probably the one time of year people actually like watching commercials, let alone actually watch them. With the increase in popularity of streaming television shows and movies, advertisers are finding it harder and harder to reach audiences with commercials. So, that made this year incredibly important for advertisers to leave an impact with their one shot during the Super Bowl. According to an article on ABC News, that shot cost them $5 million per 30 seconds of air time this year.

What I Thought Was Going to Happen:

1. Lots of Celebrities

One thing is for sure: you will be seeing plenty of familiar faces; from the intimidating action star, Liam Neeson, to the hilarious Amy Schumer. Celebrity endorsements will be very common in this year’s commercials, and they seem to be promising. To name a few: Alec Baldwin will be starring in Amazon Echo’s commercial for their AI named Alexa, Christopher Walken will make an appearance for Kia, and, one duo that I’m particularly excited for, Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer will be running for the “Bud Light Party” in a political themed ad.

2. Budweiser has Discontinued the Puppy Story

Devastating, right? For the last three years, Budweiser has had a continuous story about a Clydesdale and an adorable puppy. These commercials have been referred to as some of the greatest commercials of all time, however, there was one major problem for Budweiser: they didn’t sell beer according to So, they are going a different route and are using a celebrity endorsement from Helen Mirren, adding her to the list above. Helen Mirren sharply attacks drunk drivers, calling them the “human form of pollution” and several other harsh names, which makes this new commercial both humorous and a solid PSA for responsible drinking. I think Budweiser has taken the right step by changing their campaign in order to successfully sell beer.

3. More Entertaining Ads?

After last year’s “’Somber Bowl,’ when viewers were turned off by too-serious ads,” (Anderson) hopefully advertisers have taken into account that no one likes to be brought down at a party during the Super Bowl. Comedy is far riskier and subjective than a touching story or a rip-your-heart-out PSA, so commercials seemed to avoid it last year. However, from what has been posted on, it looks like comedy is making its return. There are still a good amount of serious ads this year, most notably Colgate’s “#EveryDropCounts” PSA, but there are plenty of promising commercials among the list which makes me wonder if there will be a balance between comedy and serious or if the former will overtake the latter.

4. Big Surprises

Many advertisers have taken up on offering teasers to the world for their commercials for the Big Game. This suggests the companies each have something big in store for us that will surprise us on Sunday. To name a couple, Marmot has released 3 teasers for what appears will be a humorous ad involving, well, a marmot. Among that, Mountain Dew has released teasers that leave many of us confused due to what seems to be a monkey/puppy/baby.

What Actually Happened

Super Bowl 50 held an entertaining lineup for its, almost record breaking, 111.9 million viewers. There was a wealth of celebrity endorsements this year, which made for good, hilarious acting. One of my favorites, which is also featured on the Washington Post as one of the best 10 commercials this year, was Hyundai’s “First Date” ad for the Genesis featuring Kevin Hart. Hart played an excellent role as an overprotective father with hilarious facial expressions and remarks of disapproval toward his daughter’s date, which provided an interesting, humorous celebrity endorsement.

Next, Budweiser aired two commercials during the game with good reception from the audience. However, the highlight of Budweiser’s advertising was completely free for the company. Peyton Manning stated in two separate interviews that he would be drinking a lot of Budweiser to celebrate. According to, “just one mention by Manning was worth about $1.6 million for Budweiser, meaning the beer-maker benefited to the tune of $3.2 million for those two mentions.”

In my opinion, this year’s commercials were far more entertaining than last’s. Many commercials at least attempted to be funny while others were undoubtedly so. Still, there were serious ads. There were many uplifting and some that were probably too dark. Colgate sucked the life out of the party like I had predicted with “#EveryDropCounts,” but at least the message to preserve water is now engraved in most of our minds. Also, there were several good surprises. Mountain Dew unveiled the #puppymonkeybaby and Heinz, a company I was surprised to see create one of the top ads of Super Bowl 50, came through with the “Wiener Stampede.”

Overall, I believe there were many commercials this year that deserve recognition for their clever humor and powerful storytelling. I hope everyone had a fun filled Super Bowl 50! (Sorry, Panthers fans).

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