Super Bowl Ads (and Pageantry)

Trends noticed in the commercials

  • Dads – I’m sure I won’t be the only one to mention that Dads played a prominent role in this year’s commercials.  From Nissan to Dove to Toyota, the message seemed to be that guys should be Dads.  While I don’t like the idea that men have to have children to somehow become well-adjusted (or non-abusive), I suppose this is a step up from prior years’ messages that men should be sexist, crude, and wholly materialistic.
  • Going above a bar that was set artificially low – Speaking of slightly better messaging, Weight Watchers and GoDaddy both came out with ads that were actually decent.  GoDaddy’s celebrated the small business owner working instead of going out with friends (with his “zero layer dip”), and Weight Watchers pointed out all of the messaging that we should eat more food (and less healthy food).  I particularly liked their message about how you can just stop, except you can’t, because it’s food.  That’s way closer to a HAES message than their usual “you can’t succeed at anything until you’re thin” campaigns.  As for GoDaddy, they had some pre-bowl coverage because of their ad featuring a puppy mill site.  Given that the ad they were parodying (the “Best Buds” ad from last year) also featured a puppy mill, I thought the furor was overwrought.  Still, either with that ad or the one that aired, it’s way above their normal sexist garbage, so good on them.
  • Apps are buying super bowl ads – Not only were a number of “free” apps featured in ads, two of them had celebrities.  The best was the Liam Neeson ad for Clash of Clans, but let’s definitely consider what it means for apps as a media/entertainment source that a) there’s enough awareness/usage to warrant a Super Bowl ad and b) that they can *afford* a Super Bowl ad.
  • Touching voiceovers or music to elevate an ad – This has been happening for a few years, and I’m tired of it. Advertisers: Stop relying on other people’s words to sell your product, particularly when the words/lyrics are very anti-product.  And for crap’s sake, if you’re going to use someone’s speech, credit them, somewhere in the ad.
  • Not being that amazing – Maybe advertising has just gotten so over-the-top normally that Super Bowl ads aren’t that amazing.  You used to see giant budget fiestas.  This year’s selections, while good, don’t really raise the bar for the medium.  This has become more like a trade show for advertising, where they roll out their newest and sparkliest stuff, rather than a show-stopping event.

Other thoughts:

  • Puppy Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and Fish Bowl – They were wonderful.  Fish Bowl, in particular, is a treat to have on.  I’ve got it going while I write this.  There needs to be more “screensaver television”.  I liked that Puppy bowl spent time on the puppies’ history and their adoptive futures.  I also am okay with them blowing off the kitten halftime show, especially since Kitten Bowl exists and does it better.  Also, there were some fun ads in Puppy Bowl, most notably the Super Bowl themed Dear Kitten from Friskies.
  • Katy Perry is a show goddess. – Seriously, she puts on a show like no one else.  I loved every bit of it.
  • The Seahawks lost. – It was fun being in the winning city, but I’m also okay with the fever dying down a bit.  Let’s go, Sounders!  FIGHT AND WIN!

Live Comments (with timestamps): 

  • 4:09pm – Random super bowl commercial/pageantry comment thread here (note that I’m watching on delay to start, I’m sure I’ll catch up soon as I FF past the game)
  • 4:09pm – Yay for Idina Menzel doing the anthem!
  • 4:09pm – Not so happy about the boo-ing of the coach. Yeah, I know about the controversy, but that just seems uncool.
  • 4:13pm – would never have picked John Legend out of a crowd before this. I knew he existed but had no idea what he looked like.
  • 4:14pm – The ASL interpretation of music is pretty awesome.
  • 4:14pm – Aww…it is a sea to sea event! Yay Seattle! Yay Boston!
  • 4:15pm – (yeah things were out of order there b/c I rewound to see the team entrances, having realized I missed them)
  • 4:17pm – Chevy truck ad – Hmm. This is still making women the prize, which I’m not cool with, even though they tried to hide it by having women choose which guy was better.
  • 4:17pm – McDonald’s – I bet the new form of payment is singing. Or dancing. Or proclaiming your love
  • 4:19pm – Jurassic World – OMG, you can put Chris Pratt in anything and I’ll watch, but this seems amazing either way. I miss Jeff Goldblum though.
  • 4:19pm – Chevy Colorado has LTE and Wi-Fi – Nice. On message, and it stood out.
  • 4:20pm – eSurance Lohan – Meh.
  • 4:22pm – Camry – Inspirational Meh.
  • 4:23pm – TurboTax – cute but bugs me that they’re like “free to file”…it’s always free to file. Makes no sense as a value prop.
  • 4:25pm – Game of War – So I’ve been getting bombarded with this on Tumblr. What is the deal with app ads that have live action commercials that are way better than the app is?
  • 4:25pm – Tomorrowland – I have high hopes for this, in part because it’s an area of Disney parks that needs some revitalization, but the commercials/trailers don’t do much for me.
  • 4:26pm – BMW i3 – also meh. But the car looks cool.
  • 4:28pm – Minions – I had already seen this one as YouTube previewed it for me. As a trailer, meh.
  • 4:28pm – Brady Bunch Snickers – Ha. Buscemi as Jan got me.
  • 4:29pm – The Voice, Blacklist = commercials we’re only seeing because the network doesn’t have to pay for the time (except in opportunity cost)
  • 4:31pm – Carnival – Okay, I’m getting tired of these “inspiring voiceover” commercials where they don’t credit who is talking or where the words originally came from.
  • 4:32pm – Skittles arm wrestling – hee. Took a double-take on this one but it was cute. “The usual way!”
  • 4:33pm – T-Mobile Kardashian – Nice. I like how they really made her look artificial and airbrushed. Oh wait…
  • 4:35pm – Budweiser BestBuds – I’d seen this one in advance. Still hits me hardcore. The love between a puppy and a horse shall not be infringed!
  • 4:37pm – Nationwide Mindy Kaling – Oh, Mindy. You amuse me greatly. I wish your show and book didn’t have so many tinges of conservatism and body negativity.
  • 4:37pm – Also…love Mindy’s outfit with the bright green and the skirt.
  • 4:38pm – Terminator Genisys – Seriously? With Arnold?
  • 4:40pm – Coca cola server spill – Aww. Wish it were that simple. Can I throw Coca-cola all over AMF and AMH and make them happy?
  • 4:40pm – Avocados are gross. All I need to say.
  • 4:41pm – Furious 7 – Shouldn’t this just be a video game at this point?
  • 4:42pm – Dove men care “Daddy” – got me a little, I have to admit.
  • 4:44pm – Doritos airplane – eh…alright. Feels like it could have been better. But I do totally see people doing that on SW flights.
  • 4:45pm – Nissan cat’s in the cradle – Honey toast crunchies? Really? And is the theme this year “dads”?
  • 4:46pm – Nationwide “I never” – WTF Nationwide? That wasn’t very nice. Most depressing commercial ever.
  • 4:47pm – Weight Watchers – wow…that may be one of the first commercials I’ve seen them do that wasn’t disparaging to fat people. Good on them, I guess. I mean, they’re still hawking a product that is in no way effective, but so is everyone.
  • 5:41pm – McDonald’s – how do they decide what relative you have to love? Ha! Dancing! I called it!
  • 4:51pm – Esurance Walter White – eh. I mean, I’m glad to see him again, but I don’t think the brand alignment is very good.
  • 4:53pm – Fiat – ugh. Disgusting.  It started out cute with the blue pill and then got a little too on-the-nose.
  • 4:54pm – GoDaddy – “0 layer dip”…aww…again, a respectable showing from a company I’m not used to seeing decency from. I guess the key is to lower your bar over many years so that then a modicum of hitting the bar makes me like it more now?
  • 4:56pm – Microsoft – Okay, I guess there are two themes this year. One is Dads, and the other is artificial legs.
  • 4:57pm – Re: Jeff Bridges. You paid this much for an ad and then want me to go look your thing up? No.
  • 4:57pm – And…I’m caught up to live.
  • 4:59pm – I’m confused that I can’t just pause the game to see the score.
  • 4:59pm – Oh, the Hawks just got a touchdown. yay!
  • 4:59pm – So, 28 points have been scored, but I’ve gotten .37 masterpoints. So there.
  • 5:02pm – 911 pizza call – nice. I thought it was going to be funny but it did the twist. Nicely done.
  • 5:02pm – Scientology gets a commercial?
  • 5:04pm – American Family insurance – so, were all the actors people who needed help? I’m confused.
  • 5:06pm – Don Cheadle! (not to be confused with Tim Meadows)
  • 5:10pm – Camry – Another Dad commercial. And yeah I’m a sucker for it.
  • 5:11pm – I mean, damn, Toyota put Dad stuff *and* military stuff in theirs. “We want to make you cry, and oh btw, here’s a car.”
  • 5:12pm – “From the producers of the Bible” – Really? Lol. I’m pretty sure the producers of the Bible aren’t around any more.
  • 5:14pm – Say what you will about Katy Perry from a talent perspective…gal knows how to put on a show.
  • 5:15pm – I like the 3D projection. That’s what they use on the castle show at Magic Kingdom.
  • 5:16pm – Lenny Kravitz can only perform next to girls on fire.
  • 5:17pm – Beach ball bra!
  • 5:21pm – Costume changes are Katy’s specialty.
  • 5:22pm – {ed note: And the internet has a giant GMTA moment with…} Is that the “more you know” star?
  • 5:23pm – I think she’s riding the drone cam’s wires?
  • 5:24pm – Oh yay, they put the “run like a girl” ad on here! I’d watched it on YouTube when it went viral, but glad it’s on here, too.  And here come the waterworks… aww….
  • 5:37pm – Comcast K9 – Amazon did voice feature better.  (I may be a bit biased.)
  • 5:39pm – Clash of Clans – OMG, okay, this app ad actually cracked me up. This is all Liam Neeson gets to do anymore. LOL
  • 5:40pm – Oh, and btw, let’s contemplate what it means that “Free” apps can afford Super Bowl commercials…
  • 5:41pm – Lexus – no one gets to drift in real life. I don’t know why they bother showing it like a feature.
  • 6:00pm – Kia – another star poking fun at themselves…was okay right up until they ended with the young woman as “fireworks”. Bleh.
  • 6:00pm – Ah…I hate foot fungus commercials!
  • 6:00pm – I hope they can do Heroes well again. It was a good show for like one season.
  • 6:01pm – (catching up again, stopped to cook dinner, penne with meat sauce!)
  • 6:02pm – TMo – Nice.  They’re hitting on the thing that people complain about most with them, and it was in an amusing way. Plus, “Sorry, it’s a boy.”
  • 6:03pm – Budweiser – also kind of cool. Poking fun at hipster beer is right in their target.
  • 6:06pm – Okay, I have no interest in watching Blacklist, but James Spader is utterly delicious. Chain him up for my amusement anytime.
  • 6:08pm – Awww, it’s so cute that SNL is trying to stay relevant.
  • 6:13pm – Jack in the Box – Ha! That could have been me. I’m not a fan of theirs, either.
  • 6:20pm – Mophie – well, I’d never heard of it before this, and battery life the number one thing that people complain about with smartphones, so this is probably a good message. I also find it kind of awesome that God is pictured as a guy low on coffee controlling things from his phone.
  • 6:21pm – Loctite – Hmm…not sure what I think of this. It’s clearly playing off of Turn Down For What, which I loved, but I’m not sure it’s on the side of celebration vs. making fun.
  • 6:30pm – Budweiser PacMan – I’ve seen this and other variants of it before. All these commercials do is make me mad that I’m not that person. And it doesn’t make me want to drink that beer on the off chance I’ll be that person. So…
  • 6:32pm – Mercedes – NO. The turtle does not win by cheating with a car. Lame.
  • 6:33pm – A whole show because someone went off and slapped someone else’s kid? Um, okay.
  • 6:37pm – 50 Shades – I will leave it at wondering whether a glider is now the universal symbol of ridiculous wealth?
  • 6:52pm – Wix – Hee…Favre and Carve.  If nothing else, it’s fun to remind people how to pronounce it. And to see the guy doing line dancing.
  • 6:52pm – Victoria’s Secret – boring.
  • 6:52pm – Heroes Charge – another app ad? Wow.
  • 6:53pm – Allegiance – Are they just outright copying the non-network channels? (i.e., The Americans)
  • 7:10pm – Nick Offerman – always a winner, but this feels a bit like an endorsement from Stephen Colbert (in character).
  • 7:14pm – Remember to buy stuff, America. Congrats to the winners. Congrats to us all. Peace out.

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