As an outspoken critic of most Super Bowl advertising, I’ve often wished marketers and agencies would grow up when it comes to the Big Game. Sure, the stakes are incredibly high and you have to go for broke when you’re on such a big stage. But every year it seems like otherwise smart people lose their minds in an effort to top the charts and capture the most buzz. And thus we end up with a parade of frat boy humor, scantily clad babes, celebrities behaving badly and enough explosions to make Michael Bay blush.
This year, it seemed like my wish was coming true. There were some intriguing efforts and interesting storylines leading up to the game. In fact, I was cautiously optimistic when I appeared that morning on our local Fox News affiliate.
Then, the game started and the ads were as flat as the Bronco’s locker room speech must have been.
Instead of party animals, Budweiser gave us cute puppies and returning veterans. While Bud Light’s “Are You Up for Whatever” supposedly spontaneous adventure went basically nowhere. Even Arnold seemed disinterested compared to his eerily inspired ping-pong teaser.
Instead of the Cola Wars, we got the Yogurt Wars – Chobani’s health conscious bear vs. Dannon and those lovable guys from Full House. (I’ll take the post-Full House Bob Saget any day.)
Instead of lightweight, pop culture celebs, Chrysler served up the iconic Bob Dylan yet somehow made him seem uncool and even dishonest about making cars in America, since Chrysler isn’t even American owned anymore. Meanwhile, Steven Colbert managed to make the Wonderful Pistachios campaign seem almost relevant, but he’s way funnier when he’s mocking the Superb Owl than taking part in it.
As promised, goDaddy toned it down, giving us bodybuilders instead of babes. But their audacious-sounding idea of having someone quit their job on live TV fell flat when the aforementioned quitter was more into her puppets than using her bully pulpit to tell off her boss.
Even Doritos played it safe, giving us cute kids who build time machines and ride their dogs like cowboys, rather than the creepy finger-licking spot that America really wanted to see.
All in all it was a pretty tame bunch. I suppose it’s a reflection of the insanely high cost to advertisers and the changing viewer demographics of football. That and the need to have your efforts play out in social media, where shock value is sometimes fine, but a few negative opinions can hijack the conversation.
Regardless, I’m hoping for a return to form next year. Hoping, not wishing.