Being in the ad business, there’s one question I can count on fielding each February from friends and family. “So what did you think of the Super Bowl ads this year?” As the presumed “expert” on the subject, I dutifully deliver my reply that is, in reality, just one random guy’s take. So in that spirit, below I offer my assessment of this year’s spots. I’ll remind the reader, these are the opinions of the writer alone (Demographic: Male, 35-44) and do not represent the values and opinions of CLM or my coworkers no matter how “expert” the following opinions may be.
Super Bore Award:
Winner: Burger King – “Eat Like Andy” https://youtu.be/WUv0L999FBs
I know, I know. I’m probably supposed to appreciate Burger King’s integration of an avant-garde, pop art icon in this one. But if you thought six hundred and seventy two punts (unofficial count) were boring, this was the final metaphoric dose of Ambien that delivered you into a deep slumber. Exactly what audience was Burger King trying to appeal to here? Nevertheless, here we are talking about it, it’s almost lunch as I write this, and I find myself craving a Whopper. Touché.
Brave Approach Award:
Winner: Michelob Ultra – “The Pure Experience” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXmlN9BAddg
If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon of ASMR, look it up. It’s weird. I wished I experienced it. But I don’t. Early research on the topic, however, indicates that 20% of the population may experience ASMR with an additional 20% experiencing mild effects. So while this spot may have been a top contender for the above “Super Bore” category for most of us, for those that experience ASMR, this spot was a spine tingling (in a good way) hit.
Pepsi – “More Than Ok” https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=29&v=G9xy3cdykJs
A bevy of celebrity appearances didn’t help this one get off the ground. What I imagine in the boardroom pitch was supposed to be a reaffirming celebration of the #2 cola for those who prefer Pepsi, (weirdos), it really just served as an in-your-face reminder that more people like Coke. It kind of made me feel bad for Pepsi. The approach felt like a “daily affirmation” with Pepsi turning to the mirror and saying “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me.”
Touchy Feely Award:
Winner: Microsoft – “We All Win” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM2QJO2IDFo
An emotional touch among the other gags, celebrities, special effects and horseplay is nothing new. This one touched a little extra by letting these children with physical limitations do the talking. Amid a gaggle of spots that played off a growing fear of technology, the ad related how technology has made these kids feel more integrated with their peers by creating Xbox controllers they could more easily manipulate. Now if only modern technology could get our kids off the couch/Xbox altogether and outside to interact, there’s your Best of Show.
Happy Surprise Award:
Winner: Bubly – “Michael Bublé vs. Bubly” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRfsJi_0HHA
Similar to how I know I’m probably supposed to like the Andy Warhol spot, I know I shouldn’t like the Bubly/Bublé spot. It’s trite. It’s cheap word play. Its celebrity appearance features a guy whose manufactured personality and crooning are nails on a chalkboard to me in normal, everyday life. Maybe it’s because I’m a flavored seltzer addict. Maybe the acting/timing was spot on. Maybe I just need to stop apologizing for it. But this spot was one of my favorites of the night. And as a result, just maybe next Christmas I won’t immediately click “skip” on my Pandora holiday radio station when a Michael Bublé song starts playing.
Best of Show:
Winner: The Washington Post – “Democracy Dies in Darkness” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDjfg8YlKHc
I know there’s some controversy over this one, not the least of which comes from the featured organization’s own staff. But for me, the highlight of the night was The Washington Post’s eloquently delivered message about the function and role of journalism in a democratic society. At a time when journalism is under attack and crying “#fakenews” is the default defense against reports that someone doesn’t like, the reminder in this message has never been more urgent. Well produced, well written, and delivered to the biggest TV audience of the year. Kudos, WP.