Well, that was a heartbreaking four hours. All that time, effort, and energy put into a once-a-year, and, for many, once-in-a-lifetime event, with such odd, sad, and even downright grim results.
Of course, I’m not referring to the Seahawks’ loss to the New England Patriots thanks to a shockingly dunderheaded play at the goal line in the last minute of the game, just when they were finally poised to re-take the lead. That hurt plenty, sure, but c’mon, it was still a pretty darn exciting game. Rather, I’m talking about the crop of ads running during this year’s Super Bowl, where the raunchy, bawdy, headline-grabbing spots of yore largely gave way to more thoughtful, serious fare.
Following a year where the NFL was rocked by a major domestic violence scandal, alongside plenty of other struggles, perhaps a more traditionally masculine approach to Super Bowl ads didn’t feel appropriate to brands. Instead, Dove appealed to men’s emotional side with a moving tribute to dads everywhere; Always took on women’s empowerment with its “Like a Girl” ad; as previously mentioned here, No More aired the 30-second version of its domestic violence prevention spot; and Nationwide delivered perhaps the worst ad of the game with its emotionally manipulative “Make Safe Happen” spot, featuring the woeful reflections of a child’s ghost after he died from a household accident.
Of course, no Super Bowl is complete with out a scantily clad Kate Upton hawking a video game and other assorted heaving bosoms. But it also seems fitting for the softer touch of this year’s ads that the humor from one of the big game’s funniest spots is drawn from a man’s inability to achieve an erection (more on that below).
Whether this more restrained tone lasts for future Super Bowls remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, there was still humor, levity, and terrific storytelling to be found from brands this year. As we Seattleites lick our wounds and thank the Hawks for a great season, let’s revisit some of the best ads, and stories, from the big game.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuVsf_hE7gM
by William Wright
Every year during the Super Bowl there is an up-and-comer that ends up making a bigger impression than some of the more established brands, and this year’s winner goes to Mophie.
The bewildering 60-second spot starts with a series of biblical-like weather events – snow in Africa, fish falling from the sky, tree’s spontaneously combusting. The apocalyptic events continue to worsen until it looks as if Earth is about dissolve into the forlorn depths of outer space. And then you get the punch line, a Morgan Freeman inspired version of God whose cellphone is on the brink of death. This commercial has it all, comedy, big budget action and it leaves you guessing until the end – classic storytelling. Plus, because of the relatively obscure product, the call to action is that much more effective. I found myself genuinely curious to check out the website and search the hashtag after this one.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpPLOdioG-c
Clash of Clans: “Revenge”
by Shefali Sain
LIE-am Neeson gets revenge in this hilarious Super Bowl ad for mobile game Clash of Clans, and internet gamers most likely trembled in fear after watching it. The ad features Liam Neeson, who appeared quite, ah, “Taken” with the game and vows revenge against a fellow gamer who destroyed his defense.
A frivolous million-dollar advertisement wouldn’t appeal to the gaming community; instead it has to speak in the parlance of this community. The cold, single-minded delivery perfectly captures the obsessiveness with which gamers compete in this arena. What’s funny about this commercial is the context in which Neeson is devolving into blind rage, all while waiting in line for a scone. The icing on the cake is the clueless barista who mispronounces his name (LIE-am). Press play to see Neeson plot his revenge in the popular Android and iOS game.http://youtu.be/YAcLViTHDOo
Fiat: “The FIAT Blue Pill” – Now That’s Amore?
by Connie Rock
Our story begins with a bucolic panoramic view of an ancient hillside town in Italy, then moves to laundry gently wafting in the breeze and the sound of birds chirping in the background. A moment later, we’re in an older couple’s bedroom. Our heroine reclines on the bed and gestures to our silver-haired hero, offering a classic come-hither invitation to join her in romance. Resplendent in his leopard spotted robe, our hero ducks quickly into the bathroom and pops open a container with a single dark blue pill. Cue the sonorous violin wail and piano crescendo.
Huh, whaa? Is this going to be one of those silly ads touting pharmaceutical, ahem, performance-enhancing products? We want to see pigs fly and tortoises driving a Mercedes, not this. But wait, not so fast, something else unexpected happens. Our hero tosses the pill blithely, completely missing his mouth. With a few clinks, the pill is out the window and on its own circuitous, comedic journey, down a pipe, bouncing off roof tiles, zinging off walls, shredding flower petals. Okay, this is funny and unexpected.
The grand finale? The blue pill winds up in the gas tank of a cute red Fiat 500X Crossover, which causes the gas tank, to, you guessed it, grow bigger. An ending that garnered mixed reviews, with Mashable calling the ad the commercial that is creeping everyone out, others calling the commercial awesome, and other simply expressing confusion, particularly the kids who saw it. The bottom line: Whether we find the ending disappointing, silly and adolescent or side-splitting, Fiat’s Blue Pill ad succeeded in telling a story that didn’t end as expected, and that got people talking.
Coke: “#MakeitHappy” – the Anti-Haterade
by Fritz Kessler
So, you didn’t know that pouring a bottle of Coke on a giant internet server could stop internet trolling, send electronic happiness vibes all around the globe, and generally make the world a better place? Admittedly, I didn’t see that one coming either, but, thanks to Coke’s nifty big game spot “#MakeitHappy” I’m more sold on the idea than I ever thought I would be.
The beauty, here, is certainly not in the plot mechanics, nor in the none-too-subtle branding that appears on the characters’ device screens every time the magic Coke vibes turn a negative comment or video into a happy one. But the concept is a bold one, and putting the focus on negativity, particularly in the digital space, is a savvy, topical move from Coke.
Who hasn’t, at some point, been on the wrong end of a comment thread, or gotten bummed out in a k-hole of watching talking heads yell at each other on TV or online? For most of us, it’s an instantly relatable feeling, and one that Coke tries to eliminate in the only way its product really can – by briefly putting a smile on people’s faces ‘cuz it tastes good. “#MakeitHappy” is a spoonful of sugar from Coke (or, in their case, 9 and 1/3 spoonfuls) and, much like the characters in the spot, it made me pretty happy.