What Makes an Iconic Super Bowl Ad?

We spoke with makers at The Mill to see what they think makes a winning Super Bowl spot and some of their favorites from previous years.
Work August 24, 2021

What do you think makes an iconic Super Bowl spot?

Dan Warom, CG Lead Artist: I love it when brands turn expectations on their head. Often Super Bowl is the moment where a brand takes a total left turn and does something that moves away from their traditional advertising or what you might usually associate with them. A great example of this was this was the Budweiser ‘Whassup?’ commercial, which came from nowhere to become a cultural icon! 

Nasim Shushtari, Senior Manager, HR: For me, music is a big factor. I love to hear what tracks have been selected and how they add to the whole experience. I’m also curious about how something has been shot or framed to evoke the most emotion out of the viewer. 

Holly Dyroff, Senior Producer: I enjoy the collective experience of everyone viewing the event (and commercials) together. I love spots with clever writing, comedy and of course the big visual effects numbers that create a big spectacle. 

Yarin Manes, VFX Lead Artist: I would defer to ‘King of the Super Bowl’ Bryan Buckley and his amazing video stating the four things that make an iconic and memorable commercial. I agree that a crucial factor is to know your audience.  

Emily Vecchi, Production Coordinator: like it when a brand or celebrity featured takes a risk. For example, in the 2017 Sheilds Healthcare MRI commercial, Tom Brady filmed his appearance wearing five Super Bowl rings… even though at that point he had only won four! 

John Leonti, Creative Director: I always appreciate good cultural relevance and touchpoints. I particularly like the trend for bringing back past fan favorites or brand mascots from years gone by. 

What’s your favorite Super Bowl commercial of all time?

Fawn Fletcher, Executive Producer: I was on set for NFL’s ‘100 Year Game’ commercial and was beyond impressed how that all came together. To bring so many high-profile players into one commercial and have it flow so seamlessly, it’s magic! 

Dan Warom, CG Lead Artist: Snickers ‘You’re Not YoWhen You’re Hungry! As I said before, I love to be surprised by a brand doing something unexpected and the casting of Betty White was genius! 

Jacob Bergman, Animation Supervisor: I always go back to Kia ‘Hero’s Journey’. The animation challenge was fun, and a key part of each gag. Comedic timing was everything and a lot of work went into getting those laughs. 

Yarin Manes, VFX Lead Artist: It’s got to be Walmart ‘Famous Visitors’. Such a crazy amount of characters from my childhood! 

John Leonti, Creative Director: SodaStreamWater on Mars’. Love it! 

You can also check out our article Super Bowl Throwbacks | Surprising Celebrities or get in contact with our VFX team to discuss any upcoming projects here.