If you’re a football fan, you liked this game. A slow burn, with twists and turns, and a dramatic finish. Good stuff. (Unless you’re a Seahawks fan, then, not so much.)
If you’re an advertising fan, you got pretty much a reflection of the game: a kind of slow and steady stream of ads, none of which made you say “wow,” and a few headscratchers late.
Mostly, we were left with questions:
Where were the really big ideas?
Where was Chrysler? (there was only the one Fiat spot and it was pretty funny) – but after Dylan, Eastwood and Eminem, they had set the bar pretty high, and not seeing them in the game was weird.
And seriously: what was Nationwide thinking???
A few themes this year that were notable:
Dads – three advertisers embraced dads this year: Dove, Nissan and Toyota. (And we’re not sure why, exactly.)
Puppies – Bud’s follow-up to “Puppy Love” from last year, and GoDaddy’s “controveersial” spot that never made it to the air (and it should have, since their “replacement” spot was meh.)
Celebrities poking fun at themselves:
Kardashian for T-Mobile was really good and funny and actually made good advertising.
Brosnan for Kia was very well done and a big grinner for me.
Pete Rose for Skechers was actually cute, and he was a good sport to take on that sensitive subject matter with such air.
The Esurance spots with Lindsay Lohan and Bryan Cranston proving that “sorta” is not good enough were pretty good.
And Liam Neeson absolutely KILLED IT in his I’m- a-badass-and-I’m-coming-for-you brogue for Clash of Clans.
The ads that made me grin:
Fiat and the little blue pill:
Mercedes Benz fable
BMW i3 with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel
This spot was funny, had great performances, and made an excellent point: big ideas take a little getting used to. Smart, and very non-typical auto advertising.
Snickers Brady Bunch
Snickers took their “you’re not you when you’re hungry” to a great new place, by going to a great old place. Well done!
Doritos – When Pigs Fly
This wasn’t my favorite of the Doritos “crash the Super Bowl” ads, but it was still entertaining, light-hearted, and well-executed.
But my biggest grin came early in the game when I saw this spot from Turbo Tax:
Man this was just flat out good. High cinematic value in the production of the spot, and high concept in rewriting history around a simple (and relatively benign) benefit of “free filing.”
Of course, we all know it’s free to file your federal return. But you still have to pay for the software of course, and for state taxes, you’ll still shell out that pesky little 29.95 or so. Bah, details. They made a great ad!
As usual, there were some groans this year. And one flat headscratcher.
Cure.com insurance (pair of 15’s) – bad jokes, worse production.
Jumlia – credit to coming into the game as a first time advertiser, but it was forgettable – an animatic for toenail fungus. They could have made like a billion or so targeted impressions online, and still had a couple million bucks left over to buy a whole bunch of spots during the professional bowling championships later in the year, when toenail fungus really flairs up. (Duh.)
Squarespace with Jeff Bridges – just weird. Any ad that’s going to make you go to a URL to figure out what it’s all about is just a waste of the airtime. Who’s going to leave the game for that? And for Jeff Bridges acting creepy? No thank you.
But the biggest WTF this year was Nationwide Insurance’s “make safe happen.” I can’t even believe they chose THIS strategy, and chose THIS buy. Didn’t anybody over there THINK about what the typical super bowl viewing environment is? You’re talking beer, wings, chips, salsa. You’re trash-talking about your team. And wait, now we’re thinking about our potentially dead children? No, no, no. NO! Kids and puppies in advertising are great…but you don’t KILL them in your spots. Jeez! You’d think somebody over there knew the basic rules.
Outside of the Turbo Tax spot, there was no real altitude attained this year in terms of high concept approaches. A few bright spots, and a few duds. Oh, and Nationwide killing our children to make a very serious point at a really shitty time. And that’s STILL not as bad as that one really bad decision to pass at the 1-yard line by the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator late in the game.
Until next year, keep grinning!