Super Bowl Ads: Superlatives & Not So Super

While regrettable that our home town 49ers were absent from Super Bowl 49, this year’s match up was competition at its finest. As for the commercials, the competition wasn’t nearly as fierce. While I missed some of the spots, only a handful got my attention and respect.

At a macro level, it was notable how hard Madison Ave pushed the theme of love and caring, especially between every combination of family members, from dad and daughter to mother and child to all in the family…Perhaps a bit gratuitous, but I’m all for more love and compassion in our world.

As for the brand that claims “love” in its tagline, McDonald’s share the love promotion was a great way for them to deliver unique and meaningful value in a way that ties back to their brand theme line. Frankly, that line has never really done it for me….until their pledge to deliver real and emotionally relevant substance gave their message some unique legs to stand on.

As for the other ads that provoked me:

Fiat “Viagra” was quite clever and entertaining.

Domestic violence was disturbingly provocative….and a topic that needs more attention (including within the League, itself.)

Budweiser, while predictable and sappy, was likely among the people’s favorite. Who can resist a puppy…let alone one who’s lost its way?

Coke did a nice job of tackling hatred and bullying without being too heavy.

What Mercedes aired was completely incongruous with their brand, especially the pre game teasers with Jerry Rice and….a PLAYBOY BUNNY! Huh? The “pay off” ad that ran during the game was a cartoon animation that could’ve been mistaken for a Disney movie trailer. Don’t get me wrong: I think Mercedes has done a brilliant job continually evolving and enhancing their car design while maintaining their sophisticated lineage. That sophistication and earned pedigree was totally lost in their Superbowl marketing creative.

Mercedes’ luxury rival Lexus ran the same spot at least three times to promote their newest SUV. When you’re spending well north of $4 million in media per airing, one would’ve thought they could have afforded unique creative for each ad.

And Turbo Tax’s value prop of being able to “file your taxes for free”?….Last checked, I’ve never been billed by Uncle Sam for submitting my 1040…Taxes are painful enough!