In Sunday’s other Big Game, advertisers generally opted for feel-good spots over the raunchy humor of past years. Coca-Cola even aimed to purge the internet of hate. The exception, and most-hated ad of the day, was Nationwide’s morbid dead-children pitch.
The Denver Post’s Super Bowl XLIX ad panel noted an abundance of heart-warming “Dad-vertising” and puppies. Fewer car ads, more online services. And subtle feminist sentiment (“Run like a girl”) balancing the inevitable super models.
Advertisers spent $4.5 million per 30-second spot, calling on nostalgia and celebs — Mindy Kaling, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Buscemi, Kim Kardashian West, Jeff Bridges, Bryan Cranston, Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel among them — to make their case. Which ads were most effective?
Budweiser “Lost Dog”
When a little white dog becomes lost, it’s Clydesdales to the rescue, to the tune of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).”
From the panel: Silverman: “They need to push the envelope with that concept. As soon as you see the first two vignettes of that puppy wandering around, you know how it’s going to end up.” Wagner: “Building off last year’s super successful puppy/Clydesdales combo, the “best buds” are back in another charming adventure story. Beautifully shot with a nice soundtrack. Will once again be near the top of Monday morning’s Admeter.” Stern: “A nice follow up to last year’s spot but maybe a little more predictable and familiar feeling. Sequels are rarely better than the original.” Robinson: “The music “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) covered by Sleeping at Last overwhelmingly trumps “Let Her Go” by Passenger because it avoids the uncomfortable romantic subtext at work in “Puppy Love” with the lyrics “only know your lover when you let her go.” Fink: “These friends are distinctively Budweiser. Hope to see a sequel next year with a less predictable ending.”
BMW “Newfangled Idea”
A flashback to “Today” hosts Couric and Gumbel asking “what is Internet?” in 1994, then in BMW’s electric car asking “what is i3?”
From the panel: Silverman: “effective and memorable spot makes the point that electrically-powered transportation will become part of our lives, just like the Internet did. The new-news message is delivered by two well-known and credible news sources.” Wagner: “Best spot in the car category. The ’94 flashback is laugh-out-loud funny.” Stern: “The BMW ad baffles me. Do Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have any relevance at all to anyone watching the game? Will anyone remember or care about the ‘Internet’ gaffe? Why transpose that same ignorance onto your own product? Am I missing something?”
Avocados from Mexico “First Draft Ever”
A white-robed God-figure announces which species go to which countries. Mexico gets…avocados.
From the panel: Silverman: “Entertainingly strategic.” Wagner: “Proves again that genuinely funny commercials score big in this party environment.” Stern: “Kudos to the client for doing something fun and unexpected, if not a little bit random. Lots of themes going on: God, politics and sports — but they managed to pull it off. What was missing for me was anything having to actually do with eating avocados.” Shearer: “Hysterical spot. I like this one over the other ‘God’ spot (for Mophie), more theatrical and humorous. You aren’t sure where they are going, but you sense the punch line coming. The art direction, acting and script are just great.”
No More/NFL on domestic violence
In any empty house a woman dials 911, pretends to order pizza while her attacker is present. A chilling and controversial spot in the year of Ray Rice.
From the panel: Wagner: “This serious spot will cut through in a game full of humorous, action-packed commercials.” Hagan Brown: “It’s the worst year the NFL has ever had. It’s too little, too late. Good advertising can’t mask the truth of who an organization is. The consumer is not that naive.” Stern: “We all know this is just a public relations move by the NFL, as opposed to a genuine ethical stance in a campaign to end domestic violence. If it were the latter, we’d have been seeing these ads for years now. This is a cop out.” Robinson: “It’s a way for the NFL to throw money at a problem.” Sukle: “Hard not to be cynical, but it grabbed and held my attention.”
An ode to fatherhood. “Care makes a man stronger.”
From the panel: Wagner: “Dads rock this year. Not only Dove but McDonald’s ‘pay with lovin’ ‘ and Toyota’s ‘What it means to be a dad.’ Dove’s is a memorable, emotional salute to fatherhood. I think it will score with kids and moms, too.” Shearer: “Dad-vertising has been on the uptrend for a couple of years and is finally reaching a tipping point. As millenials move into young parent zone, they are more involved and sharing parenting duties differently than their fathers’ and grandfathers’ generations. Dads are getting more credit for affecting household purchasing.” Robinson: “Works in its contradictory message of the integration of nurturing, an historically feminine attribute, into the traditional symbol of masculinity.”
Kathy Hagan Brown, co-president Karsh Hagan; Janet Robinson, film studies instructor, University of Colorado at Boulder; Norm Shearer, partner & CCO, Cactus; Chuck Silverman, creative director, L.A., Chicago, Denver and agency owner, TSA; Aaron Stern, Stern + Company;Mike Sukle, associate creative director/owner, Sukle Advertising; Daphne Fink Taber, Denver president, gyro; Greg Wagner, University of Denver and former creative director, Leo Burnett USA