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Updated
May 2, 2024
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 minutes

Every Great Big Game Ad, but Made Better

Business Growth
Every Great Big Game Ad, but Made Better
Kayla Uytengsu
Growth Marketing
Every Great Big Game Ad, but Made Better

According to research by Prosper Insights and Analytics, around 17.7% of adults say that advertisements are the most important part of the Big Game. This is probably why brands are spending a staggering $6.5 million for a 30-second Big Game ad. In fact, data suggests that NBC Universal sold all of its ad slots, with 30-second spots going for a record $7 million. The real question then becomes - is it worth it?

The short answer? Yes.

Big Game commercials are known to pay back advertisers bigger returns than what they invest. The huge viewership base is one possible reason. While viewership for events like Olympics, Grammys, and Academy Awards are steadily declining, Big Game ads seem to be holding their ground. Data indicates that in 2021, there were 96.4 million television viewers, whereas the live streaming viewers rounded up to around 6 million viewers per minute. This article highlights the best ads in Big Game history and how they can be made better — with QR for TV.

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1. Coinbase's Bouncing QR Code (2022)

Coinbase's Big Game ad broke the internet. The ad was for Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange. With the song 'Money' being played in the background, the ad depicted nothing but a color-coded QR code that bounced around the screen for 60 seconds. The band reportedly spent $14 million on this ad. All viewers had to do was scan the code, which took them to a promotional page that promised $15 of Bitcoin if you created an account.

The results? Coinbase reportedly got more than 20 million hits on its landing page in one minute. Plus, it boosted its crypto app downloads by 279%.

How the brand used QR on TV: This simple and ingenious ad played on people's curiosity. It made it almost impossible to resist the temptation to scan the code and find out what it was about. The ad let people experience the crypto platform instead of simply showing them what the platform is--this is what made this ad instantly legendary, so much so that the Coinbase site crashed for a few seconds!

Flowcode takeaway: As our television business grows exponentially, we’re very happy for anything that helps get the message of QR on TV and the benefits to advertisers and broadcasters.  

2. Coca-Cola's Anthropomorphic Polar Bears Ad (2012)

In 2012, Coca-Cola introduced an ad with animated bears chilling out on their “snowfall.” What's interesting to note is that these polar bears tuned into watching the big game as they open happiness with an ice-cold Coke--just like the 100 million TV viewers at home. The idea was to deliver a unique viewing experience for fans--one that integrates a live digital stream and social media with traditional television advertising.

How brands can use QR on TV: For this kind of digital ad, brands can take it one step further by integrating a QR code within the ad. This QR code can redirect users to Coca-Cola's website, their Facebook page, or some kind of promotional page to boost user engagement. Fans can be asked to post pictures of them enjoying the game with Coca-Cola and use relevant hashtags.

3. GoDaddy Girl Featuring Danica Patrick and the Pussycat Dolls (2012)

GoDaddy's 30-second commercial leveraged a unique way to engage football fans in 2012. The ad stars two men, who are transported to a place that looks like heaven. Danica, an "angel" in heaven, explains this is GoDaddy’s Internet Cloud. Other "angels" included other members of the Pussycat Dolls and Lauren Bennett. In order to create a buzz, the brand released the Big Game commercial early.

How to use QR on TV: The brand put a QR code on the commercial. When users scanned the QR code, they were redirected to a mobile-optimized page where they could:

  • Receive discounts for the company's cloud-based products and services
  • Watch the commercial through their mobile device

This is how brands can increase the user engagement levels and promote the brand, all at the same time.

4. Pepsi's The Weeknd Get Ready Commercial (2021)

In 2021, Pepsi created a Big Game commercial featuring Abel Makkonen Tesfaye with a song by the band, The Weeknd. Viewers could scan the QR Codes on TV during the Half Time show. The purpose of using a QR code was to let fans experience behind-the-scenes footage of the Pepsi Half-Time Show. The brand was also looking to increase customer engagement and bring the excitement of the game home.

How the brand leveraged QR on TV: These QR codes helped:

  • Connect fans to multimedia content where they had a chance to watch the Pepsi team build the stage for the show
  • Fans watch exclusive videos by The Weeknd
  • Fans unlock exclusive Pepsi Halftime Show content

5. Budweiser: Frogs (1995)

Directed by Gore Verbinski (from The Ring and the first three Pirates of the Caribbean fame), this classic ad launched a pop culture phenomenon. It was touted as one of the "most iconic alcohol campaigns in advertising history" by Adweek.

How to use QR on TV: In the last few seconds, brands can integrate a QR code on the screen and redirect users to the brand's promotional page/website. As a best practice, brands must have a short description of what users stand to gain by scanning the QR code.

6. Timothée Chalamet for Cadillac (2021)

In 2021, Cadillac came up with an iconic ad with an epic collab: Chalamet, Ryder, and Burton. Timothée Chalamet starred as the lookalike son of Edward Scissorhands--a continuation of the 1990 movie, “Edward Scissorhands", starring Winona Ryder, directed by Tim Burton. The ad starts with the phrase - "This is the story of a boy with scissors for hands." Throughout the montage, we see Edgar struggling to do everyday activities--till he's behind the wheel on a hands-free Super Cruise Cadillac. Ad-making at its best.

How to use QR on TV: To further boost audience engagement, brands can create a customized QR code--completely in sync with the brand's aesthetics and colors and incorporate a company logo at the center of your TV QR code for higher brand retention and recall.

7. Wayne’s World for Uber Eats (2021)

Uber Eats' delightful and funny ad features Mike Myers and Dana Carvey from Wayne's World-- a wildly-popular 1992 American comedy film. The iconic phrase, "that's what she said", is a by-product of this duo. The ad captures the vintage aesthetics and brings about buckets load of nostalgia, having shown this amazing duo together on screen again.

How to use QR on TV: The brand relays a powerful message: "Eat Local. Support Local." This message can be amplified into a full-fledged QR code-enabled campaign with a dedicated microsite or a social media page, where users can post content about how they're supporting local brands with a customized and creative hashtag.

8. Jason Alexander for Tide (2021)

This funny ad set itself up to be one of the greatest ads ever by Tide, one of the official laundry detergents of the NFL in 2021. Legendary comedian and actor, Jason Alexander (from Seinfeld) is the focal point of the ad and can unsurprisingly still tickle some serious bones. A funny ad never goes out of style.

How to use QR on TV: You can integrate a framed QR code design at the beginning of the commercial to perfectly complement your creative design. This QR code can double up as an effective marketing tool to engage your audience and educate them about your brand.

9. Will Ferrell for GM, "No Way Norway" Spot (2021)

In this endearing General Motors commercial, Will Ferrell rounds up pals Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina for an overseas caper. The ad is funny from start to finish with Ferrell constantly taking jabs at Norway (because Norway has more EVs than the US) and effectively brings the point home--why General Motors is all about EVerbody In. In the end, GM makes a promise: "We're coming, Norway. 30 new EVs by 2025."

How to use QR on TV: In the last 10 seconds of the ad, you can see the GM-trucks.com logo on the bottom right-hand side of the screen. This can be replaced with a more interactive QR code option to pique the audience's interest and drive engagement.

10. Pepsi's Melanie Amaro and Elton John Big Game Pepsi Commercial (2012)

In partnership with Fox and X-Factor, Pepsi created an ad featuring Elton John & Melanie Amaro. The ad was Shazam-enabled. The idea was to help users be able to discuss the Big Game with friends and other football fans via their mobile-optimized site. When users scanned the Shazam logo on the commercial, they could:

  • Watch an extended version of the commercial with X Factor winner, Melanie Amaro singing
  • Download the song on their mobile device

How to use QR on TV: In today's QR-enabled age, brands can simply integrate a QR code instead of using apps like Shazam, which are more effort-intensive from the user's point of view.

11. Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott for Doritos, "The Cool Ranch" Spot (2020)

This was one of the most popular advertisements for the Big Game in 2020. What's not to love? The music is hip. The actors are amazing. And when they meet for a killer dance-off at the “Cool Ranch," magic transpires. See for yourself.

How to use QR on TV: The ad uses the hashtag, "COOLRANCHDANCE," which can further be amplified by using a QR code on TV. Once users scan the code, they can be redirected to the brand's social media page (think: Instagram or even TikTok) to encourage user-generated content and post-dance-offs of their own. This can potentially lead to viral videos and make Doritos' marketing effort worth the big bucks.

12. John Krasinski, Chris Evans, and Rachel Dratch for Hyundai Smart Park (2020)

This ad brilliantly talks about Sonata's new remote-smart parking system. It highlights how fitting into a spot in Massachusetts (Boston) can be a nightmare. This ad ingeniously demonstrates Hyundai’s Smart Park feature and brings together celebrity endorsements from native Bostonites John Krasinski, Chris Evans, and Rachel Dratch. These guys not only let their Boston accents fly free but also create a convincing case for the car.

How to use QR on TV: In the end, viewers can view an impressive line-up of cars. On this screen, the brand could have an integrated QR code to connect its viewers to its new product launches with one just simple scan.

13. Mountain Dew Kickstart: Puppymonkeybaby (2016)

Mountain Dew presented this ad for 50th Big Game, with its own unique definition of three awesome things combined (which is generally "puppy monkey baby"). The video started with three friends chilling on the couch when the night took an unexpected turn - an actual puppy monkey baby – a creature with the legs of a baby, the tail of a monkey, and the head of a puppy marched on the screen with a bucket of Mountain Dew Kickstart Midnight Grape.

This weirdly unforgettable ad dominated the audience, winning the first place for the top-performing commercial on game day:

  • Captured over 11% of The Big Game's Digital Share Of Voice
  • Generated 334,000 social actions and a total social volume of 527 million-plus impressions
  • Garnered more than 2.25 million organic video views on game day

How to use QR on TV: To amp things up, it could have presented a QR code on TV, highlighting this new product which brings the best of three worlds: dew, caffeine, and juice.

14. Apple’s 1984 (1984)

Apple's 1984 has made several appearances on every list that features the greatest Big Game ads ever — and for good reason. Instead of aggressively promoting the product, this ad conveys an IDEA and a strong idea at that! This highly controversial and post-apocalyptic ad was directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Ridley Scott (who also directed The Martian). It was a revolutionary ad at the time as it did not show the product it was advertising but still got the audience hooked. Evocative. Iconic. Pure genius.

How to use QR on TV: Since the ad already did a commendable job of piquing the audience's interest, inserting the QR code would have amplified the message further. With an ad that conveys an idea or a strong social message, using a QR code to promote the product makes even more sense.

15. Liam Neeson for Clash of Clans: Revenge (2015)

This Liam Neeson ad is literally the stuff of legends. His acting is effortless. In this hilarious ad, you can see an ultra-intense Liam Neeson, getting ready to get his vengeance on an innocent Clash of Clans online gamer. To make things funnier at a dramatic moment, the barista, who mispronounces his name, also lands up on the list.

How to use QR on TV: For an online gaming platform like Clash of Clans, it makes logical and business sense to use QR on TV. By scanning the code, users can download the Clash of Clans for free on their mobile device and get gaming right away!

16. Volkswagen's The Force (2011)

This is a Cannes-winning spot, which was actually a spoof on Star Wars. Not surprisingly, the ad garnered over 40 million views. The child artist's movement imitation of Darth Vader is spot on and endearing to say the least. The Star Wars soundtrack is unmissable. The ad ends by featuring "the all-new 2012 Passat."

How to use QR on TV: The brand could have partnered with the Star Wars franchise to include memorabilia that could be placed within the car or some up with limited-edited bobblehead toys that could be placed in the car. To be able to view the products, users could have scanned their QR code, which would have redirected them to the brand's official website/special microsite.

17. Betty White for Snickers (2010)

What makes this ad iconic is a then-88-year-old Betty White running a perfect pass rout--even better than some NFL receivers! Period. The ad's messaging is effective and totally relatable--"You're not you when you're hungry."

How to use QR on TV: To capture your user's attention and propel them to action, inserting a QR code within your commercial can turn out to be a game-changer. You can provide additional information to users or give giveaways. The world is your oyster.

18. Old Spice (2010)

This Old Spice ad is a sight for sore eyes. The brand's YouTube page summarizes the essence of the ad, which is part funny, part aspirational: "We're not saying this body wash will make your man smell like a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it." The ending, “I’m on a horse”, effortlessly ties this beautiful commercial together.

How to use QR on TV: In an effort to demonstrate more about the products, Old Spice could go the QR route, allowing users to scan their screens and get to know more about the product.

19. Parisian Love by Google (2010)

This is a heart-touching ad, which highlights Google's search feature by showing an American foreign exchange student who fell in love with a Parisian girl. What we see next is a series of Google search queries being typed on a computer screen, which actually highlight the couple's life together--from getting married to having a baby. Its simplicity is Googlelified.

How to use QR on TV: To use QR on TV with an ad like this, brands can integrate the code and redirect users to their social media pages. On these pages, users can be encouraged to share their #lovestories and generate bucketloads of user-generated content.

20. Monster.com: “When I Grow Up” (1999)

This ad was directed by Bryan Buckley and had music composed by Alex Lazarenko. It featured the American BoyChoir. This 30-second black and white ad made ripples as it took digs at corporate America with the main tagline that read: "There's a better job out there." With children talk about their career aspirations, it appeals to the audience's sense of nostalgia and reminds them of a dream they once had. Amping up the emotional quotient pushes the audience to find something better.

How to use QR on TV: For online portals too, a QR code displayed on TV can come in handy as a powerful marketing tool. You can guide users to your website's portal and help them find the job of their dreams--all with the scanning of a code.

21. Reebok: Terry Tate (2003)

In this ad, we meet office linebacker, Terry Tate (played by actor Lester Speight) who threw light on the day-to-day annoyances in the workplace. It is vicious and funny, making it a winning spot in any day or age.

How to use QR on TV: In the end, viewers get to see the website "www.returnofTerryTate.com." Instead of plainly putting the URL on screen, brands can now include a personalized QR code on TV and gather eyeballs with a more 'creative touch':

22. Nike: Hare Jordan (1992)

The best ads of all time list is incomplete without the mention of Nike. In this Big Game commercial, Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny team up--a rather unlikely and by extension, memorable combination. The ad showcases Air Jordan shoes, an end-product of a Michal Jordan and Nike collab. Unsurprisingly, these two teamed up together four years later for...you guessed it...Space Jam.

How to use QR on TV: Considering that the ad shows a new product lineup, integrating a QR code, which assists users to the product page of the website makes sense. It can boost website traffic and increase sales, as more users land up on the page organically.

23. McDonald’s: The Showdown (1993)

In this commercial, Larry Bird challenges Michael Jordan to a shooting contest--all for a  coveted Big Mac. This spot is creative, imaginative, and simple, which makes it effective. Plus, watching these two legends play, even if it is for just 1-minute is a treat in itself. The music is pumping and is interspersed with mouth-watering shots of the Big Mac.

How to use QR on TV: In a similar vein, to other commercials, McDonald's can experiment with QR codes on TV and enable users to engage in contactless order placement. By scanning the code, users can be directed to a page where they can place orders immediately. They will not need to download any app, making the experience easy and convenient.

24. Wendy’s: “Where’s the Beef?” (1984)

Wendy's has always been savage, particularly when it comes to roasting its competitors--and this ad is no different. It takes direct digs at McDonald's in a bold fashion. Also, let's not forget that this super-creative ad also gifted us with one of the biggest catch-phrases of the 1980s--"Where's the beef" which was voiced by Clara Peller who was then 81 years old.

How to use QR on TV: To enable customers to place orders with a one-step scanning process, using a QR code on TV can turn out to be the best strategy for your brand yet.

25. EDS - Cat Herders (2000)

This was a commercial made for Electronic Data Systems, an American multinational information technology equipment, and services company. Creatively conceptualized in a Western theme, this Big Game ad brings to life the managerial metaphor "It's like herding cats." In simple terms, this phrase translates to the difficulty of aligning team efforts. What makes this ad successful? It is a mind-numbingly boring and dry concept (aka data management) and puts it in a funny and unexpected context. Launched in 2000, this award-winning commercial remains one of the best ads of all time.

How to use QR on TV: Even for an IT company, the uses of a QR code on TV for an ad are many--you can inform users about what your brand does, take them to your brand's YouTube/social media pages, convince them to add product/services to the cart, and so on. All you need to do is create a highly eye-catching QR code logo and place it strategically on the screen. If the storyline is memorable and the QR code content is relevant and contextual, your ad is bound to be a hit!

The Takeaway

If there's only one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: QR codes are a powerful tool for elevating your TV advertising. TV QR codes transform the unforgettable experience of a video campaign into an effective conversion tool, without losing the emotional element that ads themselves bring to the table.

Add QR codes to your TV campaigns and watch your conversions grow by enabling customers to engage with your brand seamlessly and instantly. Get more out of your TV ad spend when you can effectively track attribution and engagement metrics using Flowcode's platform.

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Kayla Uytengsu
Growth Marketing

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