This year’s Super Bowl commercials were once again comprised of what TV viewers love most: celebrities, beer and talking babies. While the familiar blockbuster trailers and slapstick comedy ads filled much of the event’s airtime, several commercials stood out as original and entertaining. Others simply fell flat.
Ram — “Farmer” — Ram trucks are known and commonly advertised as a tough man’s vehicle, tool and partner. However, Ram’s “Farmer” ad took the brand one step further. The commercial stood apart from every other Super Bowl ad by taking a stern, slow-paced tone that glorifies the hardworking, honest life of a farmer. Customary Super Bowl ads are accompanied with cheap laughs and a vague association to the brand or product, but “Farmer” appeals to the heartland of America. The gritty and heartfelt monologue by the late radio legend Paul Harvey is accompanied by powerful yet simple imagery that perfectly aligns with the Ram brand. The ad inspires a sense of passion and human decency viewers may wish to aspire to, which leaves them with an overwhelmingly positive association with Ram.
Samsung Mobile USA — “The Next Big Thing” — Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing” ad shows just how far star power can take a Super Bowl commercial. Paul Rudd (“This is 40”), Seth Rogen (“The Guilt Trip”), Bob Odenkirk (“Breaking Bad”) and Lebron James star in an ad that shows functionality of a product, creates positive associations with a brand and even pokes fun at competing ads. Samsung does not go overboard to elicit laughs, but instead uses a comedic, movie-like encounter between lovable actors to woo the audience. The true genius of this commercial is the storyline of the ad revolves around the brainstorming process for Samsung’s Super Bowl ad. Meanwhile, Rudd, Rogen, Odenkirk and James make fun of the typical advertising antics we see each year, putting Samsung ahead of the competition.
Taco Bell — “Viva Young” — Taco Bell’s “Viva Young” provides this year’s laughable, prototypical commercial. While the far-fetched style of the commercial is not entirely original, the content provides the witty and adventurous tone for which Taco Bell is known. The juxtaposition of elderly retirement home breakouts set to a version of the hit song “We Are Young” by Fun. provides a clever twist to common perceptions of a night on the town. Taco Bell’s commercial even mirrors the slow motion debauchery in Fun.’s music video. This ad successfully caters to the carefree, forever-young mentality in all of us.
Go Daddy — “Perfect Match” — It’s no surprise Go Daddy opted for attractive women to take center stage for their Super Bowl ad. Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick is the habitual spokeswoman for the website domain name company, and scantily clad women are commonly featured in Go Daddy commercials. However, this year’s “Perfect Match” ad fell short of both humor and attraction. The extended kiss between model Bar Refaeli and a nerdy tech guy named Walter was supposed to characterize the seamless unity between Go Daddy’s smart and sexy sides, but instead it shows an awkward disconnect between the two. The long, uncomfortable make-out session accompanied by an extreme close up shot brings out a larger sense of confusion than a desire to visit Go Daddy’s website.
Lincoln MKZ – “Phoenix” — Lincoln’s commercial for the MKZ was the biggest snoozer out of all the Super Bowl ads. Although some commercials fell short of humor or general interest, Lincoln’s ad lacks any sense of originality. At least the other car companies tried. In the commercial, the MKZ is shown cruising on open roads with the estimated MPG appearing on the screen while the narrator explains the sedan is new and different. This commercial resembles virtually every other car commercial shown on a daily basis, not a multi-million-dollar Super Bowl ad. The ad does evoke a certain laid-back sense of luxury, but more so, it reveals a substantial lack of creativity. The narrator insists, “[i]t’s not what you think,” but the commercial shows it is exactly what you think.
Sketchers – “Man vs. Cheetah” — Sketchers’ “Man vs. Cheetah” ad falls into this year’s pile of commercials that tried to be funny, but blatantly failed to do so. Sketchers was clearly going for laughs, but the ad merely came off as corny. As if showing a man running down a cheetah as a result of Sketchers running shoes is not used and tired as is, the shot of the runner catching up to the cheetah looked painfully unrealistic. While Sketchers probably did this intentionally for laughs, it did not come off as humorous, yet it commented on Sketchers’ functionality. This ad unintentionally portrays Sketchers as a somewhat childish brand while leaving questions about the actual performance of the running shoe.