I just finished my Super Bowl commercial DVR experience (much like last year). I find myself wishing I had actually spent my time post Super Bowl watching the heavily advertised premier of Blacklist versus spending it fast forwarding through the game (with a break for the amazing half-time show) to watch all the commercials.
Super Bowl commercials are generally known for pushing everything to the point of hyperbole – production, celebrity endorsements, sex, and humor. However, this year’s commercials, much like the debacle leading up to the game, felt a bit flat. Carnival wasn’t fooling me with their attempt to relive the success of Dodge’s ‘God Made a Farmer.’ I also couldn’t help but compare Jeep’s ‘Beautiful Lands’ to Coca-Cola’s ‘America is Beautiful’ spot from last year’s game – and I’m sure they’ll get just as much flack for extrapolating its meaning to a global scale. Then there was the Loctite ad that just made me think, ‘Whaa..?”
Brands chose to tug on the heartstrings a bit more than ever before this year: Toyota inspired us in their ‘How Great I am’ spot that showcased the life of Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy and was set to Muhammad Ali’s famous “How Great I Am” speech; over the course of several commercial breaks, McDonald’s reminded us that we all need a little lovin’ now and then; and Microsoft celebrated empowering stories of people who, with the help of Microsoft technology, were able to achieve their goals.
Other brands chose to tackle much more emotionally charged themes: Coca-Cola took on cyberbullying in its own unusual, yet always magical, way with ‘Make it Happy;’ Always ran its already popular ‘Like A Girl’ ad, challenging gender stereotypes; Nationwide brought Superbowl parties everywhere to a screeching halt by addressing the seriousness of childhood safety with their ‘Make Safe Happen’ spot. I must admit, up until about 25 seconds in, I was waiting for a punchline. Then at about 28 seconds, it’s like ‘BOOM’ – this is for real. The backlash on social media was also for real (and a little amusing):
No one in the Nationwide advertising meeting put up their hand and went, “Let’s sleep on this?”
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) February 2, 2015
In their next ad, Nationwide is going to shoot the Budweiser dog.
— Patrick Burke (@BurkieYCP) February 2, 2015
— Ben Swain (@TheBenSwain) February 2, 2015
I digress. I think we can all agree this year’s Super Bowl commercials strayed from the well worn path of beer, sex and humor. Maybe they don’t entertain like the Super Bowl commercials of yesteryear, but this year’s ads have soul and pack a serious punch.
Without further adieu, here’s my pick for this year’s top 10 Super Bowl commercials.
10. Chevy, ‘Sexier’
9. Budweiser, ‘Brewed the Hard Way’
8. Nationwide, ‘Invisible Mindy’
7. Esurance, ‘Say My Name’
6. Dove, ‘Real Strength’
5. nomore.org, Domestic Violence PSA
(For those that don’t know, this is taken almost word-for-word from a Reddit thread about 911 operators that went viral earlier this year.)
4. Toyota, ‘My Bold Dad’
3. Doritos, ‘Middle Seat’
2. Morphie, ‘All Powerless’
1. Nissan, ‘With Dad’
This one is all about emotion for me. First, how anyone can listen to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Craddle” and hold it together is beyond me. Set it as the soundtrack to one family’s struggle with work-life balance and pass the tissues, please. The Super Bowl is the only time this ad will air. However, the brand is doing some awesome work in conjunction with its release. Visit their website to find out how they’re partnering with Habitat for Humanity and Wounded Warrior Project to help people build better lives for themselves and their families.