Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on U.S. Super Bowl advertising annually, and with the commercial competition being upped year after year, American football fans now expect nothing less than to be dazzled by slick spots from the world’s most influential brands.
But Canadians? Not so much. With the exception of the Super Bowls played between 2017 and 2019, when a contentious legal fight involving the Supreme Court of Canada temporarily allowed American broadcasts north of the border, Canadian audiences have always had to contend with home-grown commercials during the Big Game.
And to the uninitiated, some of the differences between the two countries’ advertising traditions might seem drastic.
Canadian Super Bowl commercials fall into three primary categories: only-in-Canada ads produced specifically for that market, often by Canadian creative agencies; big-budget American commercials licensed to air internationally; and reruns of brands’ general TV campaigns that have, in some cases, been airing for weeks before the game. (Unlike in the U.S., there’s little precedent of releasing teasers and garnering publicity ahead of the commercials’ in-game debut.)