Marketing & Media

Six Winning TV Commercials That Didn’t Run During the Super Bowl 

Keith Kryzak, Senior Graphic Designer

Friends watching the super bowl

In the high-stakes world of Super Bowl advertising, a mere 30 seconds of airtime commands a hefty $7 million price tag and brings big names to our screens like Ben Affleck and Tom Brady. Advertising in the Super Bowl offers brands a unique opportunity to reach a massive audience, generate buzz and leave a lasting impression, making it a worthwhile investment for those looking to make a splash on one of the biggest stages in advertising. 

But what about the other advertisers? Brands that can’t justify or afford spending millions on the Super Bowl are finding alternative ways to reach their audiences through TV advertising with memorable and creative spots. 

EVR’s Senior Graphic Designer Keith Kryzak shares his thoughts on six compelling commercials that didn’t make the Super Bowl—or break the bank with celebrity cameos. These TV spots are a timeless force in developing brand recall by focusing on, dare we say, wild creativity, and still achieved significant brand exposure and engagement. 

If bathroom humor’s your thing, then this one’s for you. 

Jack Link’s Beef Jerky takes us on a hilariously wild journey with its “Wild Side: Bathroom” commercial, featuring the iconic and combative spokesbeast, Squatch. This ad, marking another chapter in Squatch’s evolution since his debut 17 years ago, is a bold and memorable display of absurdity that leaves a lasting impression. 

In the spot, ordinary individuals (not high-paid famous actors) transform from mild-mannered to wild, with Squatch hilariously fused to their backs, embodying the brand’s message to embrace one’s wild side. With the tagline “Feed Your Wild Side” and unmistakable product recognition, the commercial cleverly delivers humor and brand recall in a way that sticks with viewers long after the ad ends—much like Squatch sticking to the poor guy in the bathroom. By capturing the absurdity with a straight face and opting for real-life antics over CGI, Jack Link’s creates a spot that prompts viewers to exclaim, “They actually did that?” And indeed they did, resulting in an outrageously ridiculous and wildly successful advertisement.

2. Tostitos Hearty Dippers “Text from Mom” 

Awkwardly and hilariously cringe-worthy. 

Tostitos hits the mark with its funny “Text from Mom” commercial, showcasing the pitfalls of voice-enabled technology in a brilliantly relatable and entertaining manner. As the protagonist’s innocent double date takes a hilarious turn with his mother’s revealing text messages, viewers are treated to a rollercoaster of cringe-worthy yet side-splitting moments that perfectly highlight the brand’s Hearty Dippers and Cheesy Enchilada Dip. With seamless product placement and a clever tagline—”About to crack? Your chips shouldn’t.”—Tostitos not only delivers laughs but also reinforces its product’s durability and reliability, leaving audiences engaged, entertained and undoubtedly reaching for a bag of hearty chips. 

3. Gorilla Glue’s “Fence” 

I mean, there’s a gorilla in it. 

Gorilla Glue’s “Fence” commercial strikes a chord with viewers by showcasing the all-too-relatable scenario of someone frustrated with a broken “something” (in this case, a fence). As the protagonist (unknown actor) grapples with the challenge, a gorilla unexpectedly appears, offering a solution that embodies the adhesive’s unparalleled strength and reliability. The relatable portrayal of everyday frustrations coupled with the brand’s iconic mascot makes the advertisement both approachable and memorable. With the tagline “For the toughest jobs on planet earth,” Gorilla Glue drives home the message of durability while leaving a lasting impression on audiences of all ages. This straightforward yet engaging approach ensures the commercial sticks with viewers, reinforcing Gorilla Glue as the ultimate solution for tackling tough tasks. 

4. Pfizer, Inc. “Germs Are Everywhere” 

Makes you want to wash your hands.

Pfizer takes a fresh approach with its “Germs Are Everywhere” commercial, leveraging heightened awareness of hygiene in the wake of the pandemic. Using static frames, impactful text and stirring music without a voiceover, the ad delivers a powerful message about the omnipresence of germs and the importance of vaccination in protecting against them. By eschewing costly talent, elaborate photography and shoot locations, Pfizer keeps production costs minimal while effectively capturing attention and driving home the urgency of vaccination. With a simple yet striking execution, the commercial leaves a lasting impression on viewers, reinforcing Pfizer’s commitment to public health and safety in the face of widespread germ concerns. 

5. Shriners Hospitals for Children “Watch Me: Explore” 

I’m a dad who loves the outdoors, so this one got me.

Shriners Hospitals for Children strikes a deep emotional chord with its “Watch Me: Explore” commercial, which powerfully captures the joy of a child’s recovery and the bond between a father and son. With a touching poem recited by the child and a heartfelt story about getting back to exploring, which is what kids do, the ad celebrates the triumph of medicine and the resilience of young patients. What’s remarkable is the simplicity of production—no well-known actors, just genuine moments shared between a father and son in one location. Through its poignant portrayal of fatherly love and the transformative power of medicine, the commercial resonates with audiences, reminding us of the profound impact of healing and the importance of cherishing every moment with our loved ones. Emotion = retention. 

6. Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” 

Sophomoric? Silly? Or a smart strategic move? 

Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” commercial is a shining example of creative brilliance and brand recall, captivating audiences through its unabashed use of profanity and hilarity. By cleverly playing on the idiom “ship my pants,” the ad promotes Kmart’s free shipping offer for items not available in stores, leaving a lasting impression with its memorable tagline, “I Just Shipped My Pants!” Kmart’s strategic move pays off handsomely, with millions of potential shoppers now aware of the benefits of its “Shop Your Way” program. Despite some criticisms of vulgarity, the commercial’s viral success speaks volumes, garnering over 15 million online views in just 8 days and earning a spot as #11 on Unruly’s Top Viral Ads of All Time. This ad proves that sometimes, the simplest ideas, even those rooted in a “doody joke,” can make the biggest impact and cement a brand’s place in the collective consciousness. 

Here’s the deal: TV commercials don’t need big bucks or high-priced celebrities to hit the mark. Whether you’re a big brand or just starting out, it’s all about creating clever concepts and stirring emotions. From belly laughs to tears, the best ads evoke emotion and stick with you. So, get creative, stay true to your brand and craft a spot that leaves a lasting impression, no matter your budget. After all, it’s not about the money, it’s about making people feel something and being memorable.

Recent Posts

Looking for more?

Sign-up to join our email list and be among the first to receive industry insights from the experts you trust.

    Stay in touch