Super Bowl LI, that’s 51 for you non-Romans, and the highly-anticipated commercials that came with it, is in the books. Great game. The commercials, they were pretty good. I guess you can’t hit a home run every year. Poor place for a baseball reference.
We’ve had a week to digest the year’s offerings. I could go into how some of the spots seemed to lose sight of strategy or let big production overshadow the concept. Or talk about the ones that didn’t even bother with a concept at all. But that kind of sounds like a meeting agenda. It’ll be more fun to just play along like my rambling judgments are rock-solid analysis. Let’s begin.
It felt like the spots wanted to be big, the magic just wasn’t quite there. The Kia spot featuring Melissa McCarthy was a true Super Bowl spot. Big star. Big Budget. And using both to go an extremely long way to sell a single feature on a crossover SUV. That’s the spirit.
Honda used multiple celebrity year book photos and their voices to tell us that if we keep moving forward, our dreams will come true. And they have a crossover SUV to prove it. Yep, Super Bowl. Multiple Morgan Freemans showed us that Turkish Airlines is his carrier of choice. While we all know that 99.9% of those tuned into the big game will never, ever, have an opportunity to fly the Turkish Skies. Textbook Super Bowl ad. And finally, Justin Bieber and Terrell Owens were in a relatively pointless T-Mobile commercial, which was completely over-shadowed by Kristen Schaal in two racy, somewhat psychotic, well-acted spots for the same wireless carrier. Putting a truckload of money into a big celebrity commercial when you should have put that cash into a third spot featuring the talented Ms. Schaal, now that’s Super Bowl advertising.
This year did feature beautiful art direction and gorgeous writing. Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” was great cinematic storytelling. Every detail was finely crafted. Nothing was wasted in the making of the spot. AirBnB offered a simple message, “We accept.” The message was allowed to come across loud and clear through vivid portraiture and a well-crafted script.
Other advertisers offered beautifully done commercials to the fray with an added touch of politics. Coca-Cola’s big spot featured “America the Beautiful” sung in many languages with images capturing the multiplicity that is the makeup of our country. It immediately brings to mind the company’s iconic “Hilltop” spot. It’s the spirit of “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” but this time its focus is the USA. Audi offered a very well-written spot, challenging gender inequality. In it a father wonders how he will be able to tell his daughter about the unbalanced world she lives and competes in. He then thinks, maybe he won’t have to. The spot ends with the message, “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Progress is for everyone.”
And now the big heavy, 84 Lumber. This commercial lumber provider, which many people had never heard of, made its debut into Super Bowl advertising in a big way. The picturesque commercial shows the journey of a presumably Mexican woman and her daughter. Although the viewer doesn’t know their destination, the subtext is that they are leaving their home to find a better life. As we all know, the original spot was deemed too controversial to air during the game. The solution was to end the commercial with a web address so that viewers could see the rest of the story. Buzz kill. But straight to the laptop I went. Only to attempt to visit the site, which had crashed.
The server is down. I repeat. The server is down.
After finally getting on the site and seeing the spot, it only left me with more questions. In the spot the mother and daughter reach a wall. They traveled all that way to be kept from a better life. But wait. The wall has a door. A very large one, I might add. But is the door there for opportunity, or to remain closed. I’ll let you talk amongst yourselves to figure that one out. This spot definitely wins the award for generating the most water cooler talk.
The big question, will advertisers continue to attach political statements to their brand now that the bright lights of the Super Bowl are off? We’ll see.
And now for some fun stuff. The best Super Bowl spots are silly and a little off-kilter. I present to you “Katie” from Skittle’s. Explanation won’t do it justice. Go online, watch the spot, and always Romance the Rainbow. A spot with Christopher Walken reciting NSYNC’S “Bye Bye Bye” to sell an antioxidant infusion drink called Bai? And Justin Timberlake is in the spot too? Sold. And finally, a tragically overlooked piece of genius advertising. The Avocados from Mexico spot had it all- a masked secret society, a boom box, Kyle live streaming, tons of subtle humor and, you might want to sit down for this, Jon Lovitz. The spot is just brilliant in my eyes.
Okay, I have to at least mention this one, The “Ghost of Spuds Mackenzie.” Talk about an air ball. Yet another misplaced sports reference. I best be wrapping this up. That’s all you guys could come up with? Okay, it’s not the fact that they resurrected this pooch (actually it is, no one under 40 had a clue what ghost Spuds is referencing). It’s just a lazy commercial. Spuds McKenzie doesn’t talk. He doesn’t wear bowling shirts. And he would never hang around with this guy. Spuds spent his life entire Bud Light shilling existence hanging out with girls on the beach and partying. So, I’m supposed to believe he’s wasting the afterlife begging a guy to drink Bud Light and be social. I’m not buying it.
Hey, if I left off one of your favorites, there’s always next season.
To recap, Jon Lovitz is awesome.