We know that some people are all about the football game itself (and they had one of the greatest ever this year); others are about the halftime music (mixed reviews at best this year), and a lot of people are in it for the commercials. It wasn’t a banner year for the commercials by most accounts. There didn’t seem to be too many universally loved ones, although there were a couple that seemed to garner almost across the board disdain (using one of Dr. King’s great speeches in a Dodge Ram truck commercial brought a lot of backlash on social media.)
Regardless of the general consensus, there were definitely some entertaining ones in the bunch. And as usual – maybe even more than usual – there was a lot of celebrity star power at work. Matt Damon was pitching for a good cause to help developing countries raise money for water accessibility. But the Stella Artois goblet used in the ad was a somewhat strange choice that seemed to only highlight the economic divide even more, although it’s a very commendable campaign. Danny DeVito as the M&M that comes to life and is joyful that no one wants to devour him anymore was humorous – but Danny DeVito makes anything he touches funny. The commercial was a bit crude in its wording and it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t deliberate. It didn’t really fit into M&M’s fun image. Two other moderate successes were David Schwimmer for Skittles, teasing that the real commercial for the big game would only be viewed by one person, and Chris Pratt prepping for a Michelob Ultra ad that he humorously seemed to care about more than anybody else. Commercials about commercials were an on-going theme in a few campaigns this year.
More celebrity-centric spots that were very well received included the Amazon pitch where stars ranging from Rebel Wilson to Anthony Hopkins to Cardi B to chef Gordon Ramsay provided voice alternatives for Alexis, the Amazon voice assistant. Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride as the Son of Crocodile Dundee who thought he was starring in a movie only to find out it was an ad for Australian tourism appealed to many. Two more hands-down winners included New York Giant teammates Odell Beckham Junior and Eli Manning doing a parody of a famous ‘Dirty Dancing’ scene. One could easily make the argument that it was the highlight of the Giants’ disastrous season! And Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman having a lip-sync challenge for Doritos Fire and Mountain Dew Ice was epic. Dinklage synced a Busta Rhymes rap and Freeman a Missy Misdemeanor Elliot classic with the two hip-hop legends appearing in supporting roles.
Finally, although it wasn’t unanimous – no opinions ever are – most social media feedback seemed to indicate that Tide did very well in their satire of many common Super Bowl campaigns, coming back consistently to the idea that all the clothes in the various spots were stain-free. On the wrong side of the ledger, besides the misfire of Dodge Ram using King’s speech, included the Diet Coke failed attempt with a quirky girl dancing to a rap song. When quirk doesn’t work, it falls into the weird and forgettable category, as did this one. Febreze had an ad that by most social media accounts was simply low-hanging fruit by lazy creative writers. Turbo Tax also had a monster miss (literally) with their monster under the bed that represented people’s fears about getting their taxes done. In the current environment with the controversial new tax code that people aren’t really sure about, Turbo Tax may have been on to something, but maybe it cut too close to home. It was also criticized for being too scary for children watching the big game. The same could be said for numerous movie trailers that were scary and didn’t seem appropriate fits for family viewing.
With the money that goes into advertising for the biggest television event in the world (NBC charged slightly over $5 million for 30-second spots), of course, there is going to be a debate regarding what should and shouldn’t be shown, and how to make the distinction without bias and possible unfair censorship. Another topic for another blog! And since we at Steven James always ponder questions of advertisement and marketing, stay tuned! You’ll find that blog right here! In the meantime, contact us with any questions you have about getting your story and message out to your potential clients loudly and clearly!