In the past, I’ve been critical of violent, ageist, and sexist Super Bowl ads, for example, Betty White being slammed to the ground in a Snickers ad several years ago.
This year, the ads about companies and their products were less violent. However, there were so many ads for violent movies and TV programs, the 50th Super Bowl, along with the brutality of the game, had an overpoweringly violent tone.
The ads seemed less sexist and ageist, a good thing. However, I didn’t like the Audi ad in which a depressed old man, apparently a former astronaut, gets to drive a new car and has flashbacks of going into space. I think older adults need to be portrayed in a more positive way.
Ad makers and their sponsors often seem to focus on being cute or clever.
I’ve written many times about why I think the Budweiser ads are silly. This year, however, I liked Helen Mirren admonishing people not to drive drunk in one of their ads. But, I agree with others who said it was puzzling to have the bottle of beer sitting there during the commercial and have Helen take a drink of it at the end.
I also liked the public service announcement about domestic violence by No More. In a text message exchange, Jess says to a friend it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to come to the Super Bowl party because “Jake is in one of his moods.” After she doesn’t return the messages about whether she’s O.K., information is given on how to text for help.
Colgate’s ad on turning off the water when you brush your teeth was good. It said that every person who turns off the tap could save close to 3,000 gallons of water per year.
Four new categories of Super Bowl ads emerged this year in my analysis:
Doritos: A father offers a fetus in the womb a Dorito during an ultrasound appointment. When the mom takes the bag of chips and throws it across the room, the baby exits very fast. It’s terrible.
Budweiser: Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan pretended to be making political speeches then say they’ll form the "Bud Light Party." Government and running for public office is a serious matter. One of the things I do in my consumer blogs is encourage people to be involved in government. It’s important to our consumer lives.
Quiken Loans: The payday lender that charges consumers sky-high interest rates for short-term loans suggests that consumers sign up for a mortgage loan on their cell phone. What a dangerous idea. Consumers should carefully select a mortgage provider and compare prices. In addition, conducting financial transactions on a cell phone isn’t recommended.
Toyota: Also dangerous is the ad showing bank robbers stealing a Toyota Prius to outrun the police after their getaway car is stolen.
SoFi.com: After going through scenes where some people are great and others aren’t, the ad says SoFi.com offers great loans for great people. Rather than getting a loan online, it’s better to go to a local credit union. In addition, there are consumer complaints that this company is slow to issue loans and has low-quality customer service.
Pokémon: While the ad seemed to encourage kids to excel at things, by young actors in various scenes saying “I can do that,” the ending with a kid in a stadium with Pokémon characters and the wording “TRAIN ON” seems self-serving for its product.
SunTrust: It urges people to take a breath and feel better about their financial health. This is one of the big banks that was fined nearly $1 billion by federal and state regulators for mortgage fraud.
Delta: The ad begins with space-like photos and talks about “the indomitable nature of the human spirit." Then it says that, like those explorers and trailblazers, there’s something bigger that similarly drives Delta and its 80,000 employees to help you reach your wildest dreams because there they and you have no stops, just go. Airline service is getting worse and worse as the prices are going up steadily, despite falling oil prices.
Scientology: It starts out with beautiful scenes and saying we live in an age of technological wonder. At the touch of a button, we can find infinite answers to any question we might ask for except the one answer we thirst for at the intersection of technology and spirituality, Who am I. The complaints against the church for abuses are many and well documented.
Intuit: Anthony Hopkins tells viewers you can file your income taxes for free with TurboTax. Right. But, you have to pay to put the program on your computer to do the calculations.
Now, here are my usual categories:
Avocados From Mexico: Although I don’t especially like the dressed-up aliens talking about funny things from our planet, it was good to see real, nutritious food being advertised.
Honda: The ad features sheep singing Queen's hit “Somebody to Love,” which they learned from the farmer's Ridgeline truck that has a sound system in the rear bed. My daughter-in-law raises sheep, so I think the idea of sheep singing is funny. The sheep dog in the ad also looks like her sheep dog.
Hyundai: For its Genesis sedan, Kevin Hart follows his daughter on a date using the "car finder" tracking feature.
Xifaxan: The anti-diarrhea medication ad has a small-intestines mascot taking a seat at the Super Bowl.
OICisDifferent.com: The ad discusses what to do about “opioid induced constipation.”
Mountain Dew: A creature, a "Puppymonkeybaby," in an ad for Mountain Dew's Kickstart tries to show that three great things go together, since Kickstart combines Mountain Dew, juice, and caffeine.
Heinz: Wiener dogs wearing hot dogs and buns run through the fields towards people wearing Ketchup and mustard suits. The people are knocked down, and the dogs lick the condiments off their faces.
Amazon: Alec Baldwin tries to sell people on the Echo, a device you can ask questions of. Baldwin and former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino discuss the logistics of a “snack stadium” and ask questions of Echo’s Alexa.
Jublia: NFL greats Howie Long, Deion Sanders, and Phil Simms appear in Jublia’s toenail fungus ad.
Butterfingers: A man jumps out of an airplane riding a cow, and he does better when he gets the candy bar.
Pepsi: Janelle Monae dances through three decades in rooms shaped like the Pepsi logo.
Snickers: William Dafoe is in the Marilyn Monroe scene wearing a white dress that’s billowing up over a grate due to air blowing up. He’s complaining, then after taking a bite of a Snicker’s bar, he turns into Marilyn.
Skittles: Steven Tyler sings “Dream On” with higher and higher notes until a portrait of him made out of Skittles shatters, scattering the Skittles all over.
Coke: The Hulk and Ant Man fight over a coke, with Ant Man finally opening it for the Hulk.
Marmot: A man pals around with a marmot character, wearing a vest, which it looks like he’s falling for, to show falling in love with the outdoors.
Apartments.com: Jeff Goldblum, singing the theme song to “The Jeffersons,” sits at a piano that rises up in the air, floor by floor, outside an apartment house. Goldblum sees George Washington and Lil Wayne grilling hamburgers in one apartment as he goes by.
Budweiser: T.J. Miller trades insults with the brewery's talking Shock Top orange head on a lever for serving draft beer.
50th Super Bowl: The ad says nine months after a Super Bowl, the birth rate goes up in the city that won. Choirs were formed of the children or adults born in the various years, singing the virtues of football.
Jack in the Box: Jack rides in George Washington’s Revolutionary War boat to bring a huge load of burgers to the nation in the Battle of the Burgers.
Doritos: Three dogs aren’t allowed in a store to get Doritos, so they stand on each other and wear a raincoat and hat to hide themselves.
I could go on and on.
These ads cost about $5 million for a 30-second commercial. It’s too bad that they continue to receive so much attention and are such poor quality.