5 Trends That Defined Super Bowl Ads In 2018

From the Eagles’ surprise victory to a stadium-wide blackout, Super Bowl LII was three hours of pure drama – and there were some pretty good ads thrown in too.

super bowl 2018 ad trends

Despite the rising cost of a prime slot, plenty of brands continue to line up for a chance to reach the 100m+ people that tune in each year.

2018’s batch of ads came from all kinds of brands, from Mountain Dew and Pepsi to Squarespace and Tide, and while we saw a lot of variety among the creatives, there were definitely a few recurring trends.

So, while you clear up pizza boxes and return every piece of furniture in your apartment to its original place, let’s take a look at the ingredients that made this year’s spots sing.

1. Less Politics

One of the biggest surprises of the Super Bowl was the way that – in contrast to last year’s game – advertisers shied away from politics. While 2017’s big game saw brands engage in conversations around immigration and equality, particularly AirBnb and Budweiser, this year’s ads were much more concerned with making people laugh and showing off famous faces.

We did get some politics, however, thanks to two ads from Budweiser and Stella that focused on environmental issues. Both brands highlighted the work they’re doing with clean water charities, both in the US and internationally, with Budweiser’s efforts focused on disaster-relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the California wildfires.

2. Celeb-a-palooza

Every year a flock of celebrities appear throughout the Super Bowl. While some are a bit hit and miss, this year’s celebs quite literally ruled the show.

More than half – that’s right, half – of this year’s ads featured a celebrity in one shape or another. Amazon’s celebrity-filled ad was a massive stand-out, thanks to stars such as Rebel Wilson, Cardi B and Anthony Hopkins taking over for Alexa after she lost her voice. Other celebrity spots included Chris Pratt for Michelbob Ultra, Keanu Reeves, for Squarespace, and Tiffany Haddish, for Groupon.

But that’s not all – these are all the famous faces we spotted:

3. Humor

Apart from the conspicuous lack of political messages, humor was the other major common theme of the night. Bud Light continued the story of #DillyDilly, Tide took part in a series of hilarious commercials with “Stranger Things” star David Harbour while Febreze told the story of a man whose “bleep” just doesn’t stink.

One of the major comedic ads to stand out from last night’s game came from the NFL. Giants quarterback Eli Manning and receiver O’Dell Beckham Jr. quickly became fan favorites with their attempt at the iconic Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey lift from ‘Dirty Dancing’.

4. Authenticity

In 2015, Nielsen published its annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report. It indicated that, globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand.

Last year Audi released an ad about the gender pay gap, seemingly noble, but then faced criticism for its all-male board and its 14 person Exec team. This year, brands like Verizon and Coca-Cola tried to follow suit with more sombre and genuine ad placements.

Coca-Cola’s spot, titled “The Wonder of Us”, tells the story that there are different drinks for every type of human, while Verizon celebrated emergency workers, ending its spot with, “they answer the call. Our job is to make sure they can get it.”

5. Collaboration

A breath of fresh air for the Super Bowl came from the mildly surprising brand team-ups. Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice came together for one of the more memorable ads, with Morgan Freeman rap battling Peter Dinklage.

P&G had a similar approach by paying homage to its previous Super Bowl campaigns, with a visit from Old Spice and Mr. Clean in its four-part Tide campaign – which leaned heavily on the brand’s impressive flair for self-awareness, with many “Tide pod challenge” jokes.