For those of you who follow American Football, yesterday was the Superbowl and therefore the official end of a sport season that is uniquely American. I love American football, I really do. It's a game that hearkens back to a time when men were fighting machines, gladiators. Sure, not so terribly pretty in this day and age of men being in touch with their feminine side but it's still a magnificent spectacle.
Looking at how sensibilities have changed, one doesn't have to look much beyond the commercials in the Superbowl. Many non football fans will turn in to the game because of the commercials. Companies pay millions for a 30 second spot in the big game and ad agencies pour blood, sweat, and tears into a Superbowl ad that will stick in our memories. Some hire big name celebrities. Some use sex. Some go for the funny bone. But all of them are a comment on society year by year.
This year was no different, but for some reason I was more aware of what a changed world we are in Many of the commercials dealt with men...being less violent (nomore), being more in tune with their families (Nissan, Toyota), just being more of a solid, team player who works hard and is gentle with those around them. (Dove, go daddy)
We really looked at society in a different way. There were multiple commercials involving people with artificial legs. (Microsoft, Toyota) I loved those ads for how touching and amazing they were, but now seeing how Amy Purdy goes through her day really sent me into a depression about myself.
There were the product folks who have always been on the side of loving each other, and they didn't surprise. Coca Cola put a 2015 spin on their much beloved "I'd like to teach the world to sing" ads from my childhood by showing Coke changing the endless stream of negative social media messages into positive messages. Weight Watchers jumped into the ring by acknowledging that losing weight in a world full of "all you can eat" is hard. (I found that one funny as I stuffed another chicken wing into my face.) And McDonald's unleashed it's "Pay with Lovin'" campaign.
Celebrities came in with a bang in some ads and not so much in others. I loved Liam Neeson (Clash of Clans) and Danny Trejo (Snickers.) I know the Pete Rose ad (Sketchers) might not sit well with some, but I liked it. Jeff Bridges (foursquare) however was a dud...I was really hoping we'd be seeing a reprisal of his "Dude" from "Big Lebowski" but not so much.
Maybe I'm partial, but since my website is through Wix, I really did enjoy the "Farve and Carve" ad.
Nationwide, a massive sponsor for the NFL, came up with two memorable, solid ads. Mindy Keiling, in "Invisible Mindy" was cute and funny. "The Boy Who didn't Grow" sort of took all those "dad is totally awesome" warm fuzzy ads from earlier in the game, burned them, then tore a hole in our hearts.
And there were funny ads that featured not so attractive folks (Dodge, Locktite) but they were hilarious. And yes, I really did love the Avocado ad with the "First Ever Draft." I think Skittles may have had the most laughs per second with their arm wrestling spot.
So what was the best commercial and what was the worst...and what does it all say about society?
Well, for me, the best was Budweiser's lost puppy. For all the commentary on how men need to be softer and girls need to be more confident and we all need to bully each other less and eat less crap, the ad that won my heart was that lost puppy and the Clydesdales.
And funny? I laughed out loud at many of them, but I think for
shear cleverness coupled with surprise value I'm going with "Missing Mindy" from Nationwide. (Snickers gets a very close second with their Brady Bunch spot.)
The social commentary, both positive and negative, abounded, but the one that struck me was the ad I waited the longest for: Bud Light. Bud Light typically scores early and often in the Superbowl...this year they waited until deep in the second half with their new "Live Pac Man" ad. The spot is funny, following a formula they've had for about a year of regular folks proving they're "Up for anything" after drinking Bud Light. This time around some dude gets to play a life size Pac Man game, where he's the Pac Man. What's telling...and honestly I don't know if the execs at Bud light meant for this to happen, is that at the end of the game Sweaty Dude is handed a Bud Light. Under the announcer's voice you hear Dude say, "That's all I get after all that?"
Yes, on a commercial day full of serious messages that was Bud Light's: After playing a very fun game, somehow a beer is not enough compensation..
I'm going to hold on to the other messages of the day and just chalk that one up to poor editing.
To see the other ads, or rewatch them , click here to read Time Magazine's take on the commercials.