Super Bowl Ads Reviewed Thanks to Snowstorm

Super Bowl XLIX delivered the whole package: A good matchup on the field; a stunning visual halftime show; interesting commercials. Great quotes like “Our people didn’t touch the balls” (Robert Kraft of the Patriots). And that crazy ending!

I wanted Seattle to win because the Patriots beat the Bears in 1985. What a heads-up, hands-up catch in the last two minutes. But after an ill-considered passing play and an interception, tensions were high. When the Seahawks started throwing punches before the game ended, they lost my allegiance due to bad sportsmanship. We don’t need gloating and spiking in the end zone and we don’t need fisticuffs.

This was the first Super Bowl I’ve really watched in years. Not half-watched at a party with a glass or two of wine or cider, but actually paid attention. Thanks to a blizzard dropping 16” of snow (and counting), we didn’t go out to watch the game with family. A lone car was stranded in the middle of our unplowed street, daring us to take one of our compact, front-wheel-drive cars out to play in the snow.

Instead, we set up a multi-screen viewing experience. Big screen TV for the game, laptop for backstory and color, phones for texting, and iPad for the #superbowl feed on Twitter. This is the year hash tags took over. In my unscientific estimation, well more than 60% of the commercials included hash tags. A few that didn’t sported friendly URLs (so 2005!). And some big names ran commercials just for the exposure, not bothering with websites or hash tags.

Imagine having the budget to spend $4.5 million to buy :30 of time with no way to measure it! What does it take to justify spending $150,000 a second? Of course it’s much more exposure than the brief TV time in front of 100 million viewers. It’s also the “best and worst of” showcases that follow. Including this one.

 Super Bowl Ad Standouts

Budweiser reminded regular guys that when they are thirsty for beer, they don’t need to order a fancy flight of craft beers (although their flight looked very interesting and, frankly, pumpkin peach ale might not be all bad). Bud Light reminded us to embrace the unexpected with their life-size Pac-Man game (looks like fun). Victoria’s Secret reminded guys that they should buy some to get some. (While not a particularly creative ad, it didn’t need to be. My husband saw it and said, “Oh, that’s right. Valentine’s Day is coming up.” ‘Nuff said!)  Mophie reminded us what it feels like when our devices run out of juice. And we learned that there are potions in small tubes that can help us fix toenail fungus or broken eyeglass frames. [These last two might be regional ads, as I did not see the Jublia or Loctite entries on any of the Super Bowl ad roundups.]

Then there were the ones where I wondered, “how much did they [sponsoring company] have to pay [insert name] to make that spot?” Did Bryan Cranston really want to play Walter White playing a pharmacist, or does he just want to buy a yacht? What does it say about Lindsay Lohan’s reputation as she careens through the streets in another ad in the same Esurance series? The Sketchers ad keeping Pete Rose out of “the hall” was more sad than funny. At what price dignity?

Rounding up a number of car commercials, I loved the ad with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel. But I couldn’t tell you (without looking it up) that it was for BMW. Similarly, Pierce Brosnan in the Kia commercial could have been promoting any car. The Chevy ad at the beginning (when we all thought for a moment that we lost our Internet/cable/satellite) was very timely, but it didn’t scream Chevy as much as create desire for a car — any car — with wireless Internet. Dodge is 100 and so were all the actors. That didn’t make me want to buy a car from them however. Nor did the tired tortoise and hare ad for a luxury brand.

In the Bleacher Report, the author completely missed the point of the Fiat ad featuring the “little blue pill.” It’s not that having a Fiat means your tiny thing will work better, but that the new Fiat is a bit larger (more bulked up) and goes for longer than the original model Fiat (pre-Viagra). The ad works because its premise was interesting, its execution was memorable, and its borrowed interest was relevant to their new Fiat model. While I don’t care much for NASCAR, I did also like the spot featuring Nick Offerman playing his Parks & Recreation character playing dozens of roles. I had a running commentary in my head of Ron complaining about all the costume changes he had to endure.

Memorable food ads included Snicker’s “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” Brady Bunch ad; Doritos “When Pigs Fly,” and the one from Weight Watchers that showed food. Lots of food. And a final nod to a few Super bowl commercials that used the platform for messaging with the power to open eyes and change attitudes: the chilling domestic abuse ad and the #likeagirl ad for Always. Both were nicely done.

I wrote down a few hash tags as I saw them and now can’t remember what most of them are for. But if we follow what they suggest, then 2015 should be an exciting year, even if we have many, many more weeks of winter: #DreamFearlessly #FriendsAreWaiting #UpForWhatever #StayPowerful #ItsThatEasy.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons – Parker Anderson

What commercials did you like or loathe this year?

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