Even if you're not a football fan, one of the huge draws of the Super Bowl every year is the commercials. Companies and brands put big money into their ads since so many eyeballs will be on them, and it's become a race to see who can get more social media buzz.
But this year, there was a bit of a different feel to the special commercials; many businesses have taken corporate social responsibility to heart, with a focus on leading the charge in creating social change. A company’s brand messaging is shifting from "what we do" to "how we do it", or even more importantly, "what we stand for" - and consumers are taking notice, especially during the last turbulent year news-wise. "They want to feel like there’s something still good in the world," said Kelly O’Keefe, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter, in regards to shoppers.
What better way for a brand to get a cause message across than in a commercial during one of the biggest broadcasts of the year? Here are three examples of Super Bowl 2018 commercials with a charitable focus:
This was a spot that got a lot of viewers right in the feels, as well as raising awareness of the car maker's "Hyundai Hope On Wheels" charity, which supports research for pediatric cancer. The commercial involves people going through a metal detector to get to a Super Bowl party, but those with car keys for a Hyundai are sent separately to a room where they're thanked by pediatric cancer survivors and their families. It's a nice little way to connect Hyundai owners to the good that their car company of choice does, and helps provide a strong piece of storytelling for the brand.
This one comes with an added celebrity appearance: Matt Damon shows up to describe the partnership between beer company Stella Artois and his own charity, Water.org, and how viewers can buy a special limited-edition chalice with proceeds going towards helping people in developing nations get fresh water. The chalice sells for $13 on Water.org and Amazon, with $3 from each sale going to the initiative. Although NPR fact-checked Damon's claim that if one percent of all Super Bowl viewers buy a glass, one million people could be provided with fresh water for five years, it's still a step in a charitable direction.
Another brewery gets in on the water charity initiative with Budweiser's Stand By You campaign. For 30 years, the company has been providing fresh water to victims of natural disasters, and this year their Fort Collins brewery will also begin to can drinking water. In 2017 alone, their Cartersville brewery delivered 2.9 million cans of water to communities in need, so adding a second brewery with canning capabilities will double the company's charitable efforts. They also encourage donations to the Red Cross for disaster relief.
While there'll always be people railing against big corporations and the evils of ads, we think it's great when companies respond to the knowledge that consumers look to align themselves with brands that do good work. If this year's Super Bowl commercials are any indication, it's a sign that corporate social responsibility should be a heavy focus both now and in the immediate future!