Super Bowl Commercials 2014


The best advertising agencies are selected for the coveted commercial slots for the once-a-year, America’s most watched event, the Super Bowl.  According to Forbes, approximately half of TV viewers tune in just for the commercials.  At $4 million dollars for 30-seconds air time, it’s got to be good.  By good, this means the advertisers have to know how to tap into what consumers want.  So what are the advertisers going for this year?  There were three general categories: Nostalgia, America, and (the old staple) Humor.


#1 – Nostalgia (& other warm fuzzies)

During this time of such an enduring economic recession, it is common for most people to wish to hail back to earlier days when times were better.  Think mid-life crisis.  It is a form of escapism…a way to escape the reality of the moment and travel back through time.  The commercials in this category are: Seinfeld (from the ‘90s), Radio Shack (the ‘80s called), Dannon Oikos (Full House reunion – those Olson twins are fully grown now), MetLife (Charlie Brown), and Toyota (Muppets).

All of these advertisers are targeting a consumer who is in the age 40 – 60 range.

A massive winner that tangentially fits in this category of happy feelings is Budweiser.  It reportedly had 34 millions viewers BEFORE the game even started!  Americans are known for loving their dogs.  The USA has been known to throw its citizens into jail for killing a dog, leaving some people around the world in complete shock.  The Golden Retriever (e.g. Old Yeller) puppy’s love with the horse demonstrated the intelligence of two of America’s favorite animals.  It conjured up feelings of loyalty, innocence, sincerity, youth, longing, love, and happiness.  Americans believe whoever is not susceptible to its charm must not be human.


#2 – America

Reinforcing cultural identity is risky business in a country as diverse as the USA.  At least four companies chose to take this route.

Cheerios raised the ante by providing another commercial with the interracial family.  This was a bold move worth applause because it shows the American  spirit of how you can’t cower us into a corner just because there are several bigots out there who haven’t caught up to the fact that it’s 2014.   According to the 2010 Pew Survey, more than a third of American adults (35%) say they have a family member who is married to someone of a different race.

Coca-Cola continues to “like to teach the world to sing” by singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages.  This focus on Diversity & Inclusion is on point to recognize that America is a country of immigrants.  Perhaps the sudden rush of patriotism after 9/11 makes this one harder to swallow in most of middle America.  The coastal fringes are living this reality.

Jaguar took the funny approach to reinforcing what America is.  Americans tend to still admire the “Mother Country” (i.e. England) AND there is a fascination with the bad boy image.  This historical cultural heritage is one to emulate.  Jaguar “knocked this one out of the park” with its suave messaging of superiority: Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood all the villains are played by Brits?  Maybe we just sound right?  We’re more focused.  More precise.  We’re always one step ahead.  We have a certain style, an eye for detail.  And we’re obsessed by power.  A stiff upper lip is key.  And we all drive Jaguars.  Oh yes, it’s good to be bad

Chrysler “hit the nail on the head” by using a great, living American icon as a spokesperson, Bob Dylan.  Not only does Bob embody America’s spirit, the commercial concurrently shows other national celebrity icons (e.g. Marilyn Monroe; James Dean), as he identifies America’s attributes and beliefs: “original,” “true cool,” “legacy,” “cars made America,” “conviction;” “American pride.”  His finale is priceless: “So let Germany brew your beer and Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone,” and then with an intonation that sounds like words that would activate us as “Manchurian Candidate” consumers, Bob almost mandates us with, “WE will BUILD your car.”  It is a powerful ending.


#3 – Humor

Stephen Colbert is one of America’s current “funny guys.”  Just to look at him and hear him talk makes one laugh.  His commercial for Pistachios is simple and funny enough to lead consumers to buy a bag of these nuts, just to keep laughing.

The Audi “Doberhuahua” falls into this category; as well as Volkswagen with German engineers sprouting wings, rainbows emerging from a German engineer’s rear, and a quick take on the Freudian penis envy (see picture above).

Humor is also a form of momentary escapism AND it is a part of the American personality, this is why it is a staple.  The joke is typically made at the expense of the audience laughing at someone less fortunate (i.e. we laugh AT them), placing us in a one-up position.  It has zero connection to the product, and it does lead us to like the product because funny is important to us.

Bottomline: The Super Bowl commercials underscore how America is undergoing a cultural transition.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.


Pew Survey, 2010.

© Rossina Gil, 2014


About Rossina

Thought Partner & Corporate Primatologist

Posted on February 3, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Rossina,

    I think you comments are very well written and reflect your astute understanding and vision.  Just excellent!



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