With partisan politics sucking all the air out of the culture these days, the Super Bowl sort of snuck up on us. But it’s here and the commercials continue to be a more celebrated and analyzed element of our shared national experience. At $5.6 million for a 30 second spot, there’s no more pretending the commercials aren’t an economic force and worthy of our attention.
Like every year, this year’s new entries reflect the evolving consumer landscape and our shifting psyche. What do the commercials say about us this year? Let’s take a look at the thematic elements that tells us more about who we are.
Just Make Me Laugh
Let’s get right to it. Once again, this is why we watch and those brave, clever agency creatives do not disappoint. Fortunately for all of us (the year we’ve had!) it’s big section this year.
Little Ceasars Pizza
The people at Sliced Bread confront reality with chaos when Little Ceasars announces delivery.
Bud Light Seltzer
#PostyStore takes a look inside Posty’s Brain (it looks a lot like the researchers behind the focus group mirror) as he’s trying to decide what to buy. Kudos to the creative team for the brilliant writing but the “New Face Tattoo” button is truly inspired. This is my runner up for Best In Show
All People are Tax People. People do amazing things everyday, but these amazing people don’t think they can do their taxes. “We believe people can be good at anything, even taxes.”
“Smaht Pahk is a Bettah Way to Pahk” gets some help from celeb New Englanders (and honorary Bostonian Big Popi) and the clickah that does it all
How ever did we manage?!? #BeforeAlexa uses examples spanning the ages to show just how hard it was to get what we need. In a reaction to one of the medieval scenes on YouTube, GR8 Gracie asked, “Why is no one talking about ‘A witch stole his pants.’” Why indeed.
These entries really belong in the Just Make Me Laugh category but the deft use of nostalgia to draw in the viewer with layered in-on-the-joke understanding deserves its own section.
Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross reenact the iconic scene from The Shining to introduce New Mtn Dew Zero Sugar.
A few iconic bars from The Good The Bad And The Ugly sets the stage for a dance battle between Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott. “The ranch just got cooler.” Hat tip to the Sam Elliot mustache wiggle-wave. #CoolRanchDance
I’m still a fan of the previous Famous Cars spot but Famous Visitors is even better. The brilliant use of iconic movie scenes reminds us all of our favorites and never lets the Walmart’s Store Pickup feature get lost in the humor. Definitely Best In Show!
The growing political focus on diversity, inclusion, Middle America–recognizing the full populace–has a significant presence this year.
Running back for the Raiders, Josh Jacobs, talks to his younger self to lend him the confidence to “give it everything” you’ve got until you get there.
Winona Ryder returns to her hometown of Winona Minnesota and discovers charm and authenticity. I’d play up the cool website functionality a little more
New York Life
New York Life reminds us of the many forms of love that make our lives meaningful. They’ve been helping people act on their love so we can “be good at life.”
Budweiser: Typical American
Directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow, Typical American spotlights our diversity and humanity manifesting in glorious typical American style. Flyover? No more.
Google uses a straight-to-the-heart approach to demonstrate how its voice assist helps an elderly man reminisce with the pictures, movies and songs that define a long time marriage all backed up by the perfect soundtrack.
Make The World A Better Place
Employees and consumers continue to expect companies to solve societal problems. Some big brands are stepping up!
Verizon is showcasing its tech chops with 5G innovation that helps firefighters see through the smoke. Very cool. First Responders rule.
Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
A purchase of “6 For 6 Pack” and Michelob Ultra will help transition 6 square feet to organic farm land. Gimmicky? Sure, but worthy cause. “Make Your Impact With A Six Pack”
Katie Sowers is the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl and is “the one” that can open the door for others to follow. VERY cool.
Inspired by last year’s all women spacewalk, Olay verifies that there is definitely enough “space” for women. And for every Tweet to @olayskin #MakeSpaceForWomen Olay commits to donating $1 to Girls Who Code
Who doesn’t love a car chase?! Particularly during an action-packed game! Only a few entries so far this year.
The Porshe Museum’s security team stages a heist to take their choice of cars for a classic spy movie style high-speed spin through beautiful European settings to introduce the new electric Taycan.
Okay. I’m a Daniel Craig and a James Bond fan. That’s the real reason for this category. Heineken pits poor real Daniel Craig (no one can really run like that!) against fictional James Bond to prove a Heineken is the choice on screen and off.
It’s been that kind of year. Bloomberg and Trump are each spending $10M on a 60 second ad. I can’t remember when we’ve had politics play such a significant role in the Super Bowl commercials. Stephen Colbert said it well in his monologue:
“Get out of my Super Bowl commercials. I don’t want to see politicians. That’s not what the day is for. I don’t want to see candidates for political office. All I want to see is friendships between horses and puppies and interracial couples enjoying cereal. I want to cry because of a truck. The man loves that truck so much and he’s in the truck with another man who loves the truck and the other man is his father and they both love the truck so much. I love you truck.”
Sadly, I haven’t seen any truck commercials yet.
Bloomberg’s spot features a mother who’s lost her son to gun violence and she welcomes Mike’s entrance in the race because now “we’ve got a dog in the fight.”
I could only find this sneak peek on Fox News that highlights Trump supporters, the strength of his movement and his commitment to Making America Great Again.