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7 Takeaways From This Year’s Super Bowl Ads

This past weekend, I had some fun talking Super Bowl ads with a bunch of industry folks. Between chatting with a group at the Wall Street Journal in NYC, and attending the 3% tweetup in Boston, a lot’s been said about these 50 spots that have bombarded us all with their best shot at grabbing our attention.

So, I wanted to wrap up my thinking in a quick blog post.

Here are my 7 big observations:

1) Dogs are still man’s best friend

Apparently it’s a known fact that dogs sell products. I mean there is a Puppy Bowl, right? I say watch out, dogs, because this year, a lot of other animals — like sheep, bears and marmots — are trying to take your place.

Heinz

Doritos

2) We’re bringing funny back… sort of

There was a lot more to laugh about during this year’s game than last year. BUT there weren’t many deep belly laughs — mostly smirks, chuckles and good old silliness.

Avocados From Mexico


(Love the reference to a torture device when looking at seats on a commercial airplane.)

Marmot

3) It’s Celebrity Game Night

It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without celebrities, and this year is no different. Some reminded us why we love them, and some, however, disappointed.

The winners:

Kia

Bud Light

Amazon

The losers:

Snickers

(It’s disturbing and weirdly sexist in a creepy way. Such a good campaign overall. This was such a miss.)

Buick

 4) A softer, gentler Super Bowl

Lots to laugh at, but most advertisers played it safe and kept things PG and PC. There were even a few spots posing as PSAs.

AXE

(This is their teenage boy version of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty Championing the individual, in their own way and own tone. Love it!)

Prius

(Great way to overcome all the criticisms of the vehicle in a very Toyota/Prius way.)

5) And there’s still extravagance and decadence

It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without a few big budget ads that are crazy and make a statement but we’re not necessarily sure what they are saying or why.

Apartments.com

(There is so much happening in this spot that it’s memorable for that reason alone, even if you don’t like it.)

LG

(A lot of money and talent went into this spot, but it only seemed to show how out-of-touch LG really is.)

6) The banks failed

Pretty much anything related to money and finance missed the mark and sentiment of the nation, especially millennials this year. The spots were either talking to themselves, elitist or wanting to start a terrifying revolution no one wants.

SOFI

(Some people are great but some aren’t? Real inclusive message.)

7) …and Happiness prevails

Overall, it was a feel good year for Super Bowl advertisers. Most perfectly represented by the NFL itself. Let’s be honest, there is plenty wrong with the NFL and their players, but it’s about the game. And this spot about the real bounty of the Super Bowl comically captures fans’ real “passion” for the game itself.

NFL Super Bowl babies