The television commercials that dominate Super Bowl Sunday aren’t known for being highbrow.

Think singing frogs, supermodels drinking soft drinks, and the disturbing yet somehow addictive allure of “Puppy Monkey Baby.”

But come Sunday, when more than 100 million viewers are expected to tune into the Super Bowl, many of the ads won’t be aimed at making people laugh, but to promote social change.

Several local and national marketers gathered Saturday at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which is hosting the game, to discuss the “Impact Beyond the Game” that cause and impact marketing could have.

“We haven’t seen a lot of these kind of commercials. … Traditionally, the ones that do the best are the ones that make you laugh or involve animals, so we are sort of in uncharted territory,” said Peter Barzilai, assistant managing editor for USA Today Sports, which produces an “Ad Meter” ranking the Super Bowl commercials. Barzilai was on one of several panels at the event on Saturday.

This Super Bowl could be a testament to “a tipping point” and greater shift to more brands using the expensive and highly visible Super Bowl platform to talk about social issues, said Anthony Signorelli, senior vice president of the Ad Council.

For example, Budweiser which has debuted several memorable ads during the Big Game such as their “Wassup” commercial, will run a television spot Sunday highlighting how the company helps produce cans of clean drinking water during natural disasters.

Beer brand Stella Artois will also run an ad centered around a campaign it is doing to provide access to clean water to those in need.

Several panelists on Saturday mentioned that companies need to do more than just run advertisements on social issues but also stick to what is true to their brand and be active with their causes.

“The brands that succeed lead with actions over words,” said Omid Farhang, chief creative officer for the Momentum Worldwide advertising agency.

The Saturday event was put together by Force Multiply, a Twin Cities-based marketing company that helps brands align with social change campaigns. The company partnered with NBC Sports Group, the Ad Council, USA Today, Budweiser, Folds of Honor,and The Brand Lab.

Proceeds from the event went to support Folds of Honor, a nonprofit foundation that provides scholarships to military families.


Twitter: @nicolenorfleet