celebrities in super bowl ads 2019
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Super Bowl LIII Commercials: 27 Had Celebrities

Commentary on Super Bowl Commercials

It’s the day after the biggest advertising day of the year, the 53rd Super Bowl LIII. Here are a few advertising stats on the 2019 event:

  • Host network CBS charged a record $5.25 million for a 30-second ad during this year’s game.
  • A total of 54 advertisers shelled out $5.25 million for 30 seconds of screen time during the Super Bowl this year, adding up to 93 ads in total.

Today is largely “national hangover day” since it’s the Monday after the Super Bowl. It’s hard for most of us to remember much of anything about Sunday’s game, especially that brand of cleaning solution whose ad aired in the third quarter.

Alcohol brands and automobiles have arguably the largest budgets when it comes to allocating it towards media buys, creative, production, and paying a celebrity for their time and involvement endorsing said product. But even a great commercial must be something Joe sitting on the couch at home can remember.

The competition for attention is incredibly steep; every advertiser in the program lineup has paid top dollar to put their best foot forward with their 15-30 seconds designed to capture their viewer’s attention.  Traditionally, TV commercials have largely been about brand awareness (as opposed to ROI).  Which is why the Super Bowl is the most advantageous day for well-known brands to continue to solidify the position they occupy in the consumer’s mind.

Are Super Bowl ads worth it?

Everyone has their opinion on which commercials were great and which weren’t.  But I thought instead it would be more interesting to evaluate how many ads enlisted the help of a familiar face in the form of a celebrity.

My hypothesis is that commercials are more memorable when it involves someone you recognize. Therefore, I predict this year, more advertisers will use celebrities.  It begs the question: are Super Bowl Ads worth it?  In my opinion, it’s worth it if the ad causes the audience to remember your brand or it reinforces your existing branding.

I kept track of every commercial break noting the brand name and if any famous people were involved in the commercial as a main actor or cameo. For this experiment, I considered a celebrity to be anyone who was in a TV show, a famous athlete, an actor in a movie, or a musical artist.  I didn’t count any promos for a CBS TV show because it goes without saying, any network would have aired their TV lineup if it had been their turn to host the broadcast on their network. I wanted to get the purest count of paying advertisers during the broadcast who used celebrities.

Let’s see how many ads leveraged the power of a familiar face by incorporating celebrities into their ad. I’ll bet it’s more than you think.

Notes & General disclaimers:

*Please excuse any typos in my spreadsheet below; this was mostly for fun and I was also slightly more concerned about not dropping spinach artichoke dip on my MacBook Pro. 😀

*To clarify: animals can be celebrities too. There were a handful of ads that leveraged well known animals; the GOT dragon in BudLight, the Dalmatian and Clydesdale horses in the Anheuser- Busch commercial, and Mercedes mentioned Lassie.

*Every space denotes when the commercial break started/ended. Brand names that advertised within that quarter are listed in the first column.

*Celeb = 1 means there was one or more celebrities present in the ad. 0 means no celeb was used.

Brand name Q1Celebrity/ General observationsCeleb
Bon viv sparkling waterno celeb0
m n mceleb bud I couldn’t place her quickly enough1
huluhandmaden tail – celebs1
bumble adserina williams – don’t wait to make first move1
Hyundaicar – jason bateman1
Turkish airlinesThe Journey – ridley scott film0
SurvivorTV bump0
OLAYsarah michele gellar- spoof horor movie scene; face unlock1
Doritozbackstreet /insync1
weather tech
pet comfort
goldent retreiver dog0
Pepsi half time showTV bump0
Marvelcaptain marvel. Lindsey lohan1
Bud Lightnew version of thei rperiod ads. Returning Corn syrup – whole idea is it’s not brewed w/ corn syrup0
fast and furious producers:   Hobs & Shawmovie trailer – the rock, handsome rob1
Expensifyrap video; need receipts for the is video – guy from parks and rec1
CBS show: FBI 0
PepsiSteve Carell , Cardi B , lil john1
Simpli Saferobots doing our jobs0
T mobilegiant long text message0
Audigrandpa & son, – choaking on cashew nut. Surprise but not memorable0
Brand name Q2Celebrity/ General observations 
Bud LightGOT season finalie (HBO)1
avocados from mexicodog show0
CBS show bumpWorlds Best0
Pringles 0
Google translatemost translated words: hello, thank you, I love you0
Showtime 0
Mercedeslassi get help; if only everything In life listened to you1
pro cleandeep clean. Waste of money0
Tmobileshe drives me crazy song   w/ taco bell0
Toyotatoni harris female athlete – Rav 4 hybrid1
Planters peanutsCharlie Sheen, A rod.1
CBSTV bump0
mint mobilewireless0
Norwegean cruse line 0
CBS bump – Star Treck tv spin offon spock0
CBS twilight zone bump 0
Turbo taxrobo child; all CPA’s are live people. You’ll never be emotionally complex for the job0
Stella ArtoiTerry Bradshaw, the Dude, XX Man cameo – ” the dude abides”1
SprintBo Jackson (good for guys but I didn’t know who he was)1
CBS bump 0
CBS bumpbionic arm violinist0
CBS bumpyoung sheldon0
CBS bumpGod friended me0
Showtime bump 0
Yellowtale wine 0
Xfinity(too safe) the future of awesome0
Draper University 0
Oakers.com 0
(right before half time)  
NFL 100 yearfootball fumble off cake, branding play at a dinner party and football is loose1
Pepsi half time hsowIBM watson drone “love”   “one”0
 Big Boi – outkast ; I love the way you move 
Toyota subrait’s back. Sports car0
ADThome security; home flipping twins / celebs1
GrammysTV bump – Alisha Keys0
Toyotacollege grad buyatoyota.com0
CBS sports bump 0
DCU checking 0
Celebrity cruise line 0
(replay) Mass Mutual 0
Comcast Internet 0
DCUwho is this?Local ad?0
 (halftime commentary) 
BublyMichael Buble – sparkling water1
NCIS bumperTV bump0
Brand name Q3Celebrity/ General observations 
Tmobilefree lyft ride0
Wixkarkie ross (redone)1
NetflixOne Planet – animals. looks awesome0
Michelob beerit’s only worth it if you can enjoy it – robot0
Verizonit’s our job to make sure they get the call; nfll coach1
Devourfrozen foods0
GrammysAlisha keys hosts0
Google“jobs for veterans J225”0
Colgate 0
Amazon primeoriginal content Hanna1
Sketchers 0
Bud Lightdriving home not made w corn syrup0
CBS bump for their show 0
CBS bumpThe Neighborhood0
CBS grammys bump 0
Chevvya little but country a bit rock and roll0
Hennesy 0
Dietz Nutsceleb – craig robinson. Funny1
Brand name Q4Celebrity/ General observations 
Microsoftplaying video games. They teased it online prior to superbowl0
WeatherTech cup phone 0
BudLightnot made with corn syrup0
Verizonfirst responders; shorter version0
Budwieserdalmation; brewed with wind power1
CBSbig bang theory – last season Thursday0
amazonforest whitker, harrison ford, great one –1
Scary stories 0
Michelobbeer organic form – hawaii ASMR zoe kravitz1
Late show promo 0
T mobiletexting conversation0
The Washington Postknowing empowers us0
The Grammys  
 Patriots win! 
Amazonbit more of the same commercial – what does it mean: not every one makes the cut?1

Observations: half of the Super Bowl ads featured a known person or animal

Out of 54 advertisers, I counted 27 ads that ran during the game that used a celebrity or well-known animal personality. That’s about half. Which means half of the ads on the biggest advertising day of the year leveraged some type of recognizable person with which to associate their brand.

I think this is a growing trend because when it comes to advertising — yes, it’s expensive — which is why brands need to tap into the immediate effects of facial recognition and positive association with people who are funny/ cool/ cute/ and inspirational.

So, are Super Bowl ads effective?

Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. But the prominence of how many advertisers built their creative spots around this tactic so that their ad would have the greatest impact during the time when their audience has the shortest attention span confirms the effectiveness of this strategy.

When it comes to Super Bowl Sunday the audience is always going to be incredibly distracted whether they’re watching at home and using their mobile phone or at a loud bar. Brands have two options to make their game day ads count: make us remember you OR remind us who you are.

The most familiar face in football: Tom Brady. Congrats on your 6th win, Patriots!

The opinions expressed in this post are mine and not those of my employer.

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