Super Bowl Commercial Recap Part 1

April 28, 2016

Super Bowl Commercial Sunday is over, and we saw Muppets, Tim Tebow saving puppies, M&Ms being threatened in Russian and, if you piece all the car commercials together, the entirety of the Mid-West. We picked out a few trends we felt summed up the night, along with the commercials that exemplified them … for better and worse.

First, a few trend/brand honorable mentions:

Self-referenced being an advertisement: Ford, Bud Light, TurboTax, Esurance, Honda
Ongoing storyline across more than one commercial: Bud Light, Wonderful Pistachios, Cure Auto Insurance, T-Mobile
Internet bleeding into real life: McDonald's, Squarespace
Technology is inspirational: Microsoft, Hyundai, Mazda
Didn't live up to the hype: GoDaddy's “Puppeteer ad” – after weeks of teasing that someone was going to quit their job on live TV, the ad fell very flat and proves that sometimes too much hype beforehand can end in a lackluster return.

This is a growing trend in commercials, especially with Facebook's (slow) adoption of the hashtag alongside the established practice of using them on Twitter, and they were in no short supply during the Super Bowl in order to get viewers to instantly connect with the brands during the game. The majority did not feature the brand in the hashtag itself, instead referencing the message of the commercial. Here are a few notable ones:

American Cancer Society/Bank of America: #connect4red
Coca-Cola: #AmericaIsBeautiful (An unfortunately ironic sentiment … details to follow)
Alex and Ani: #madeinamerica
Geico: #cheesesteakshuffle
Microsoft: #empowering
Honda: #hugfest
Jaguar: #goodtobebad
Budweiser: #BestBuds
Esurance: #esurancesave30 (Retweeting gave users a chance to win $1.5 million)

Everyone expects the three Bs from Super Bowl ads: babes, boobs and beer. Well, this year, there was plenty of beer, but a surprising lack of the other two, with puppies (Budweiser's heartwarming “Best Buds” ad), other animals (Ellen dancing with bears and wolves for Beats Music) and small children (both Doritos ads) filling the roles. Granted, there were still a few that followed tradition, but others surprised us by taking a more evolved or family-friendly route.

At the end of the night, Sodastream's ad of Scarlett Johansson demonstrating how to be sexy while making and drinking soda would have blended with the rest of the commercial crowd in past Bowls. This year, it stood out as the only one with a blatant “sexy woman hocks product” approach.

Note: it should be pointed out that when it was originally aired, the, "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi" line was censored from broadcast due to Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Co. being lucrative sponsors.

Steak-umm's was similar, with their head-scratching, zero-effort approach of having women in a supermarket fawn all over a man buying the frozen steaks with the tagline “100% beef” repeated by flustered female cashiers (how original). GoDaddy, infamous for its nonsensical soft-core porn Danica Patrick ads, turned over a new leaf; instead of scantily-clad women, they featured topless men running to get tans from a woman-owned business built on a website domain from GoDaddy.

On top of that, ultra-chauvinistic Axe took a tame approach, featuring couples “making love, not war.”

Granted, it can still be construed as having the message of, “Men, seduce the women of the world and there will be peace – women, do it for world peace,” but it is much more watered down than their typical approach of making women powerless to the users' erotic magnetism …

Speaking of raw masculinity … H&M reversed the normal trend and threw David Beckham into a situation where he is the sexual object, having him strip down to nothing over the course of the commercial.

Though the ad may not be the best way to show off his collection, women and men of the world thank H&M for creating it, nonetheless.

The award for the most well-calculated spot of the night goes to Goldie Blox, a company that makes toys for girls “to inspire the next generation of engineers.” They recognize that not all girls want pink, frilly, stereotypical female toys, and instead, want to build, create and explore with toys that are usually reserved for boys.

Putting this ad in the Super Bowl – a MACHO, MANLY event – reaches both the parents of little girls that don't want to adhere to traditionally gendered play-things and those same little girls that are actively watching the game because they LIKE football, making it the perfect avenue to get Goldie Blox's name known and their message about skewing gender-norms heard by millions.

We've just scratched the surface of Super Bowl ad trends — click here to be transported back in time, check out some British bad guys and swell with American pride.