This weekend all eyes will be on the 51st Superbowl. Some for the game, some for the half time show and some for the ads which are always a huge talking point.

We’ve taken a particular interest in how characters have been used in previous Superbowl campaigns. It’s no surprise that movies and TV shows are often referenced during high profile ad events like this – they can add a lot of value as they come with existing familiarity and popularity.

Here we’ve highlighted some great examples of how characters have been used in Superbowl campaigns of the past.


Year: 2016
Client: Snickers
Creative Agency: BBDO New York
TV/Movie Brand: The Seven Year Itch
Marilyn Monroe’s scene in The Seven Year Itch, standing above the New York subway grate, is one of the most iconic moments in Hollywood history. Willem Dafoe is a good sport, playing the role as a hungry Marilyn. An iconic movie moment = an iconic ad.

Fly to Gotham City

Year: 2016
Client: Turkish Airlines
Creative Agency: CP+B
TV/Movie Brand: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
A massive film for 2016 with Batman and Superman battling it out screams nothing short of blockbuster. Turkish Airlines did a great job at leveraging the huge amount of hype surrounding the movie with this campaign.

Coke Mini

Year: 2016
Client: Coca Cola
Creative Agency: W&K Portland
TV/Movie Brand: Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Incredible Hulk
The Hulk is really big. Ant Man is really small. There is one mini Coke to fight over. This was a big way to highlight the smallness of the Coke, which premiered during the Superbowl.

Say My Name

Year: 2015
Client: Esurance
Creative Agency: Leo Burnett
TV/Movie Brand: Breaking Bad
This was a surprise, mainly because there was no tease and no release of the ad prior to Superbowl. It launched during the 2nd quarter and featured Walter White from Breaking Bad, giving fans of the show something to talk about after the series finished in 2013.

A Very Brady Superbowl

Year: 2015
Client: Snickers
Creative Agency: BBDO NY
TV/Movie Brand: The Brady Bunch
Snickers launched ‘A Very Brady Teaser’ a few weeks before Superbowl which created a lot of buzz. The full version was released on YouTube 4 days out from Superbowl, and had racked up over 7 million viewers by Superbowl evening. The spot continued with the popular ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ Snickers theme that has in the past featured Betty White, and has been a regular advertiser at Superbowl. Using existing footage, mixed with new footage, this had early speculation on being the favourite for the year.

The Red Key

Year: 2014
Client: Kia
Creative Agency: David&Goliath.
TV/Movie: The Matrix
This 90 second commercial was considered one of the leaders from last years Superbowl. Laurence Fishburne reprises his role as Morpheus from The Matrix film series, along with lines directly referencing quotes from the movies along with some thematic elements. Fans of The Matrix will also note elements relating the the movie franchise such as two men wearing identical suits and sunglasses and a bending spoon.

The 80’s Wants Their Store Back

Year: 2014
Client: Radioshack
Creative Agency: GSD&M
TV/Movie: Various
Radioshack launched what was considered one of the big winners of 2014 Superbowl in an effort to change their image. Leveraging over 20 iconic characters and personalities from the 1980’s, the campaign consisted of 3 commercials and 1 behind the scenes online video.

Bumblebee Hits Back

Year: 2011
Client: Chevrolet
Creative Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
TV/Movie: Transformers
A seemingly mundane looking commercial for a car dealership takes a surprise turn. This commercial also doubled as a sneak peak of theatrical release Transformers Dark of the Moon.

The Force

Year: 2011
Client: Volkswagen
Creative Agency: Donny Deutsch Advertising Inc.
TV/Movie: Star Wars
This is probably one of the most talked about Superbowl commercials in recent times, and was actually placed online prior to the big game. Within 24 hours it had notched over 1 million views on YouTube and a whopping 8 million views before the Superbowl screening.

Hard Times

Year: 2010
Client: Coca Cola
Creative Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
TV/Movie: The Simpsons
Here we see a range of characters from The Simpsons, most notably billionaire (or in this case, bankrupt) Mr. Burns. As he faces the loss of his fortune and belongings, including Smithers, he learns to appreciate life’s simple pleasures like family and friends.

It’s Mine

Year: 2008
Client: Coca Cola
Creative Agency: The Mill
TV/Movie: Family Guy and Peanuts
“It’s Mine” is a clever mix of live action and computer generated creative set during the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which reportedly took over 4 months of production and post production to create. We see two well known characters from very different walks of life; Stewie Griffin from TV comedy Family Guy and Charlie Brown from comic Peanuts. This one was so highly regarded that it won a silver at Cannes Lions Festival.

The Truth in The Godfather

Year: 2008
Client: Audi
Creative Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
TV/Movie: The Godfather
This one aired during 2008 Superbowl and was considered one of the most stand out for the year. The spot recreates the iconic ‘horse head’ scene from 1972 movie The Godfather, and stars Alex Rocco who funnily enough played character Moe Green in the original movie.