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Super Bowl 50: Commercials with a Cause

Kelly Salance

This year, Super Bowl 50 reportedly had an estimated 111.9 million viewers on average, ranking it the third most-watched program in US television history. While those millions cheered for their respective teams, fans (in what has become tradition) also tuned in for some of the most highly anticipated commercials of the year.

Brands annually capitalize on this massive audience by spending large sums of money for screen time -- up to 5 million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime. Each year, themes emerge from the commercials and notably, many of the ads this year strongly emphasized their company’s social causes. Some of the highlights included:

  • Colgate: #Everydropcounts – Colgate’s 30-second ad focused on bringing attention to the global water crisis. Since the commercial aired, over 18,250 people have spread the word and pledged to brush their teeth with the faucet off.   Be sure to check it out here to pledge!  


  • Budweiser: #Giveadamn (LINK) - Budweiser and a sharp-tongued Helen Mirren urged viewers to #GiveADamn, and stand up against drunk driving. In addition, they launched a campaign donating $1 to safe ride programs for every tweet with the hashtag.  


  •  NO MORE: “Talk Text” (LINK) - The NFL partnered with NO MORE, raising awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault. Encouraging viewers to text “NO MORE” to 94543, it provided the audience a convenient and approachable way to learn more about identifying abuse and how to help.  


  • MINI COOPER#DefyLabels (Link) – While this advertisement circled back to purchasing their product eventually, their bold hashtag broke barriers, particularly in automobile commercials.  Opening with, “This is a chick car, this is a Gay car,” it quickly caught the viewer’s attention and eluded towards a much more culturally conscious topic than simply a car.


What is noteworthy about these commercials is that they attempt to bring awareness to topics beyond the brand or product. By creating a memorable hashtag, a call to action, or an awareness campaign, they challenge the worldwide audience to begin a number of important conversations. Brands have discovered that they are no longer able to merely produce commercials that direct us towards their product.  Instead they are being pushed to be better, go further, and create direct action items for the audience. It will be important to note how this type of messaging evolves to put the Super in Super Bowl!