With the average Super Bowl commercial costing $166,666 per second, according to USA Today, advertisers did all they could to make every second count.
Some were cute, some were funny, some were sobering, some were just, well, bad (we’re looking at you, Jublia). Here were a few that made memorable impressions on our Co-Creative Director, Steven Aramini, and our PR Director, Jen Eastwood.
T-Mobile and Drake
In the commercial, Drake (singing his hit “Hotline Bling”) is interrupted by marketing executives (of course!) with ridiculous requests to change the song. Whether you’re a Drake fan or not, his sincere “anything for the team” attitude makes an already hilarious spot even better. The spot reinforces T-Mobile’s “un-carrier” positioning and was funny without being lowbrow.
Coca-Cola, Hulk and Ant Man
Coke made a mini-movie that was more entertaining than any of the actual movie trailers that debuted during the game. It featured Ant Man swiping Bruce Banner’s favorite beverage, which as you can imagine made him very angry. And we all know you should never make Bruce angry. The spot was perfect for Coke…fizzy, sweet and devoid of any nutritional value. But damn if it didn’t go down smooth and easy.
Jeep and Lots of Familiar Faces
From a copywriting standpoint, this spot wins the prize. Well-written and emotional without feeling sappy, Jeep connected itself to everyone from Marilyn Monroe to BB King to the Terminator, with a killer payoff line: “We don’t make Jeep. You do.” This spot hammered home Jeep’s history and profound impact on our culture in a way that just felt more authentic than the spots surrounding it.
Ultimately, however perhaps the biggest winner of the night (aside from the Broncos) was Pepsi. By sponsoring the halftime show they latched onto winning performances by Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars, including an epic dance-off that was, let’s just be honest, more exciting than the game itself.
Unlike Super Bowls of the past, there were no ads that felt truly epic like Apple’s “1984” or pop culture-shaping like “Budweiser’s Wassup?”, but I did get treated to a PuppyMonkeyBaby and dozens of cute wiener dogs, so I’ll call that a win.
The formula for many of the 2016 Super Bowl commercials was much of the same – make it funny, and add in plenty of celebrities and/or cute animals. Refreshingly, the sex-sells approach was practically non-existent (save for Helen Mirren, who looks amazing even while chastising would-be drunk drivers for being “shortsighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution” whose brains, if donated to science, would be returned in a great PSA from Budweiser USA.) Even Axe Body Spray moved away from their typical objectifying women, “wear this and you’ll get laid” motif, and instead celebrated men’s individuality. Who needs some other thing, when you’ve got your thing? Indeed.
But for me, the best commercials tell a story. And that’s why Audi’s “Commander” commercial resonated. The beautifully directed spot tells the story of an aging astronaut, depressed and despondent in his recliner. His son comes to check on him and ends up handing him the keys to his Audi R8, a car so fast it will make you feel like you’re being rocketed to space. The commercial cuts between the astronaut’s mission to the moon and his late-night drive on a twisty road with a giant full moon hanging in the sky, all set to the late David Bowie’s “Starman.” It wasn’t just the nod to the late Bowie that had us feeling sentimental.
My runner up was Bud Light’s “Bud Light Party” commercial with Any Schumer and Seth Rogen. In a time when the country can seem so divided, it’s nice to know there are still things that unite us. Like Paul Rudd. Everyone loves Paul Rudd! And it had one of the best lines of the night: “We got the biggest caucus in the country!” Rogen proclaims. “But it’s not, like, too big,” Schumer promises. “Like, you can handle it.” Okay, maybe “sex sells” wasn’t totally absent…