The Super Bowl 49, which aired on Feb. 1, conjured emotions of joy, anger, happiness and disappointment from those who watched it, and I’m not even talking about the football. The commercials served as miniature soap operas spliced between an incredibly exciting, back-and-forth game. Some companies like Budweiser and Doritos repeated their Super Bowl success of years past, some inspired us, but others, like Nationwide, simply horrified us. Overall, most of the Super Bowl commercials were inspirational and relatable, but others left us questioning why exactly someone was paid to produce such terrible content.
The crowd-favorite Super Bowl commercial is most assuredly Budweiser’s “Lost Dog.” The commercial gave viewers an expressive yellow labrador puppy who accidentally found himself in perilous situations until the Budweiser Clydesdales came to its rescue. It was well written, and had just enough drama to be entertaining without being histrionic.“Lost Dog” also rolled back out the cute puppy factor the company used last year in its commercial “Puppy Love,” and it worked. In reference to the new commercial and Budweiser’s fabulous marketing strategy, Budweiser’s vice president, Brian Perkins, said “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” according to USA Today. He may just be on to something there.
Doritos also produced yet another remarkable Super Bowl commercial with its unique competition for the commercial slot in which the company outsources commercial material from fans. In the past, the company has succeeded with its humorous “Time Machine,” and “Dead Cat Bribe.” This year, the advertising was equally on point with the $1 million-winning “Middle Seat,” which was a commercial about a man trying to get an attractive woman to sit next to him on a plane while simultaneously attempting to ward off others only to find out that she is traveling with an infant. While some of the man’s methods could be perceived as insensitive, especially when he pretends to have irritable bowel syndrome, the commercial was humorously relatable. It felt human. The commercial addressed that worry we all have while boarding a plane, that we’ll get stuck next to someone with poor hygiene or who talks too much. The commercial comically dealt with a common, albeit silly, problem that people encounter. It certainly wasn’t as heartfelt as Budweiser’s puppy commercial, but it definitely deserves a thumbs-up for its creativity and subtle humor.
Budweiser and Doritos are two clear front-runners for Super Bowl commercial notoriety, but several inspirational and thought-provoking commercials have earned definitive bids to the Super Bowl commercial hall of fame. Dove secured one of these coveted spots with its “#RealStrength” advertisement that brought viewers the happy memories of either being protected by their fathers or caring for their own children in the way the the father-child duos interacted. The commercial heavily brought on nostalgia and left us smiling. Dove’s commercial contained a simple but heartfelt message about the value of fathers and it was well-worth the company’s investment as the commercial received positive reactions.
The “No More Project” wrote another important Super Bowl commercial right into viewers’ hearts. The initiative is dedicated to ending domestic and sexual assault, which has been a prominent issue in the NFL since the league suspended football player Ray Rice after he hit his then-fiancee. The NFL donated this one-minute slot along with its advertising team for the commercial, which is valued around $9 million, according to The Chicago Tribune. The commercial, called “No More,” featured an actual call transcribed by 911 where a woman pretended to order pizza to get police assistance without alerting her attacker, as reported by ABC News. This commercial, which was based off of real events, demonstrated the terror of abusive relationships while also being respectful of those who have endured them. The “No More Project’s” commercial ultimately addressed a quiet but common issue in the U.S. while being both tasteful and informative.
The feminine product company Always crafted another equally impressive commercial with its “#LikeAGirl.” The commercial aimed to defy the stereotypes about females by having young girls express what it meant to do various activities like a girl. The overall message was one of empowerment. It meant to show that young girls don’t believe the stereotypes and society needs to stop allowing girls to believe them as they grow older. This commercial left and conveyed an intriguing convention which will likely live on in the viewer’s mind much longer than it plays on screen.
While plenty of inspiration and hilarity filled the television screen, as per the Super Bowl commercial norm, Nationwide left viewers stunned into a ‘What just happened?’ silence. The company’s “Make Safe Happen” commercial featured a young boy talking of all the things he would love to do… but can’t because he died. Supposedly, Nationwide aimed to use the commercial as a jumping off point for conversation, but the commercial just left viewers teary-eyed and shocked that something so devastating had been run as a witty little Super Bowl commercial, according to NBC News.
The commercial looked promising at first. After all, it had a cute little kid who was talking about imagined adventures like learning how to ride a bike, traveling the world with his best friend (his dog) and even getting married. As it turns out, he’d die in an accident before getting the chance to do any of the things pictures. It was a huge downer and ultimately insensitive to the viewership that is hoping for fun and inspiration. It should not have aired.
These commercials were the standouts of the 2015 Super Bowl, but not all for good reasons. Other honorable mentions worth checking out include T-Mobile’s Kim Kardashian commercial, Avocados from Mexico’s “First Draft,” and Esurance’s “Say my Name,” featuring Bryan Cranston. Super Bowl Sunday was chock-full of memorable commercials, but here’s to hoping that we’ll soon forget a few.
Rebecca Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org