What a game!!! A historical game for a number of reasons, but one that might not be highlighted is “the SuperBowl game with the least amount of real Super Bowl ads.” Let me explain.

I, like a lot of people in advertising, watch the Super Bowl for the ads. Yes, I watch the good ol’ pigskin being thrown around too, but I’m there for the ads. Why? Because the Super Bowl is the Olympics of the advertising world! Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent not just on production of but on the purchase of 30 seconds of Super Bowl air time. This is the one time of year when advertisers put their hearts & souls into their branding, hoping to get a raise in awareness, reach, consideration, and ultimately purchase, of their products. This year though… where were they? The ads felt dry. And I was not alone in my assessment. As one Facebook friend put it, “Are these the lamest Super Bowl Ads… ever??” No I won’t say lamest ads, but I will say lamest turnout. Regardless, of the few that decided to participate, here are my thoughts.

Standout Spots for their Strategy

  1. Bud Light “Corn Syrup” – this is a huge point of differentiation for the brand, especially when trying to appeal to Millennials. Good to see an old-school brand take a risk on “health,” and sustainability later with their parent Budweiser “now brewed with wind power” ad.
  2. Pepsi “Is Pepsi Ok?” – Brilliant use of an insight! This is exactly what the service staff across America says when someone asks for a Coke.
  3. Burger King “EatLikeAndy” – brilliant use of old footage. WOW.
  4. Amazon “Alexa” – she is part of our lives and this spot shed light on her hiccups and her usage
  5. Washington Post “Democracy Dies in Darkness” – I don’t think I really need to say anything here. This spot speaks for itself in its timeliness.


Branding’s Best

  1. Everything T-Mobile did was amazing. They capitalized on smart phone culture like no one has done before AND they highlighted relevant partnerships that will no doubt catapult the brand forward
  2. Google’s branding spots get me every time. I loved their “most translated words” spot, bringing the world together around simple human truths is brand strategy at its best.
  3. KIA’s “Telluride” hit all the feels. No clue where Chevy and Dodge were this game, but hey, hello KIA! Getting the first spot of the 2nd half of the game should give them some great recognition.
  4. Verizon “First Responder” spots. Do I need to say anything more? These give me the warm fuzzies and tears in my eyes. What would we do without first responders? Well we don’t have to worry about that thanks to Verizon. Nice work.
  5. ESPN’s “NFL” spot was brilliant. Thank you for keeping it simple and all about football. This is why we love you.


Standard Super Bowl Advertising

  1. Jason Bateman for Hyundai – this was hilarious and onpoint
  2. Doritos bringing Chance the Rapper & Backstreet Boys together
  3. Stellar Artois with The Dude and SATC’s Carrie Bradshaw swapping out their typical drinks for the beer
  4. Microsoft’s use of kids with disabilities to make us all believe in the exceptional potential in all of us: “when everyone plays, everyone wins”
  5. Audi – 30% of cars will be electric by 2025, watch out Tesla

All in all, the ads were Ok. I still got my fill of warm fuzzies, but they weren’t as funny as years past. Is it because fewer people are watching the Bowl? Is it because of the controversy surrounding the NFL this year? Is it a sign of the looming recession? It’s important to take stock of why you think the ads were low on steam this year because the Super Bowl is one of the pinnacles of the cultural zeitgeist. And if it can’t figure itself out (good lord that halftime show…) then do we know who we are and where we’re headed?

As a friendly reminder, no I’m not in advertising any more. I’m a badass real estate agent in Portland, Oregon. And I will always love good ads.

What are your thoughts?