Super Bowl, Super Ads?

Quite often the “big game” is a blow-out where the commercials turn into the highlight of the show. Not so this year – high drama on the field kept even the casual football watcher on the edge of their seats (and gave dedicated fans a blood pressure check more than once). But even still, everyone is abuzz over the commercials – were there any big hits, expensive misses? Or were the commercials the snoozefest that couldn’t keep up with the game?

NBC never missed an opportunity for self-promotion of their own shows. They know they have a captive
audience who might not otherwise tune in. It was a little relentless by the end, but the best was John
Elway’s appearance among the Heroes and hearing, “I knew he was one of us.” We always did too… even before there was a show called Heroes.

Speaking of heroes, that little kid dressed as a super hero “calling to your inner hero” was a great set-up – too bad it turned out to be calling you to go to a theme park instead of do something great.

Dreaming of doing great things is what got Usama Young highlighted in the NFL’s Is it Super? spot. I love the image of him selling snowcones in the stands and dreaming of being on the field as a player. Hopefully next year he’ll be on the field in the Super Bowl – Go Saints!

I’m not sure about this new series of ads from Cheetos advocating vandalism – the use of their product’s residue seems a particularly odd choice – for daily annoyances. What we need is more civility and less
“my priorities are more important than yours.” Hey Cheetos: take a page from Coke and try promoting happiness.

Aside from the two animated Coke ads (and nice use of Peter and the Wolf), Coke Zero gave a nice nod to the classic Mean Joe Greene Super Bowl ad. I’ve heard mixed reactions, but the Steelers fans seem fond of it.

Updated classic themes just weren’t in commercials – what’s with Land of the Lost and Witch Mountain? Are there no new movies in Hollywood?

While it’s interesting to see new trends (more commercials targeted toward women during major sporting events – yes, we watch), some things never change (GoDaddy’s insistence on relying on sex to drive traffic to their website). On the other hand, GoDaddy apparently had the most-watched commercial, so using sex in advertising isn’t going out of style.

But at least GoDaddy managed to handle their traffic. Of course, they are a hosting provider so it would be a poor reflection on their core service if they weren’t prepared for the traffic generated by their Super Bowl ads. But I heard from several people that the websites of some other advertisers (I’m looking at you Doritos & Denny’s) were non-responsive just moments after their commercials aired. You spent all that money on airtime and production – you didn’t think anyone would go to your site?

Apparently Hulu was ready for their traffic as well – they’re hosting the Super Bowl ads in case there are any you missed or want to see again. And they had probably the funniest spot of the Super Bowl. I love Alec Baldwin stepping into the Hollywood sign as he admitted that television doesn’t rot your brain – it just makes it softer.

For anyone keeping score, humor was featured in 83% of Super Bowl ads while animals appeared in 43% and celebrities came in third at 32%. You can see how that compares to last year as well as a breakdown by industries in an interactive timeline from the New York Times.

All in all, I’d say the highlights came on the field this year and not from the commercials.

Lisa Crotty

Marketing Manager

Lisa is a Senior Optimization Specialist at Innate – her friends even teased that she A/B tested her name change. Lisa studied Philosophy of Science & Technology at Virginia Tech and is always asking why.

Scroll To Top