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People tend to think of American Football as just that: an essentially American sport, watched mostly by an American audience. And for much of the year, indeed the majority of viewers on any given Sunday (or Monday or sometimes Thursday nights) are in the U.S. But there is a sizeable international community that watches the NFL as well. And just as the percentage of Americans watching football spikes dramatically during the Super Bowl, so too does international viewership.

And what does that mean? Why, it means a golden opportunity for international marketers. And while we all love the Super Bowl as much for the action on the field as we do for the commercials, what good does an ad for an insurance agency or pizza company do for someone living in a region where neither the coverage plan nor the meat lover’s deal advertised is offered? Not much.

Thus in various international markets, while what happens on the field is seen just the same by viewers around the globe, what happens in between is rather different. The hype about Super Bowl commercials is indeed largely about American commercials – they are as much pure entertainment as they are marketing tools, and this is especially true for people in areas where the product or service on offer is not even available (note: when talking about Coke, “not available” is never accurate).

Today, we’ll take a look at a few funny, touching commercials from around the world, These ads are similar to those people are going to see on Super Bowl Sunday (which will already be Monday in many places across the International Date Line!).

First, a bit of perspective. Super Bowl XLVII is likely to have around 115 million viewers at any given time, with that number spiking some during the halftime show when people more interested in spectacle then sport wander back in from the other room. The FIFA 2012 World Cup Soccer Championship Game, on the other hand, boasted over 600 million viewers by most estimates. So the NFL may draw a big crowd, but it’s not exactly the strongest media magnet worldwide.

Not surprisingly, the second biggest market for the Super Bowl after the United States proper is the rest of North America. America’s closest neighbors, friends, and trading partners, Canada and Mexico, offer the second and third most viewers per nationality. Especially between the U.S. and Canada with a shared language (sorry, Quebec), the broadcast has great appeal both to viewers and for advertisers. Thus it is that this year, at least a few major companies have announced a Super Bowl commercial made exclusively for the Canadian market, including PepsiCo and Hyundai.

We can’t see the PepsiCo ad yet, but here’s Hynundai’s commercial:

People seem to love the song from the ad… we think it’s kind of angry, but whatever makes you happy! Or angry! Now let’s take a look back a year, at a touching ad for Budweiser shown in Canada during the 2012 Super Bowl:

Awesome commercial, and of course very much geared toward Canadians. What you’ll notice, though, is how similar in look and feel those ads are to more typical American commercials. Is that a trend worldwide now? Hmm… let’s look a bit farther afield.

Most countries don’t tend to have ads created just for American Football’s biggest night, so even though the game is shown in over 200 nations, hardly a handful of those feature special, big production value, big name ads during the game. If you are watching Super Bowl XLVII in, say China, you are more likely to see something like this, right from January of this year:

Looks pretty well-made, right? And you get the point; Eat shrimp!

Now take a look at a major ad from Croatia. We’re going to see a theme here that transcends cultural, ethnic, or national boundaries: funny sells. This commercial should make sense despite the statistical probability that you don’t speak the language:

Ha, how funny, that mother of his! Now here is one more foreign commercial to give you a sense of the type of ads folks will be watching this Sunday outside of the Americas and when they’re not playing “American Football”.

We love that spot! And can’t you just see that having been an American Super Bowl commercial? It’s simple, direct, cute, and memorable – it would totally have worked, in our opinion.

Probably even better than this huge-budget 2012 Super Bowl ad from Pepsi. If you had forgotten this one, sorry to bring it back to you…