Conversations around the country today will center around the Seahawks’ end-of-game goal line play call, Katy Perry’s vibrant halftime show, and, last but not least, the Super Bowl ads.  With this year’s ad cost set at a record $4.5 million per 30-second spot, the stakes were as high as ever for marketing divisions of major companies.

One of the most popular ads of this year’s Super Bowl was Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” spot.  Just like last year’s “Puppy Love” ad, Budweiser shamelessly uses an 11 week old puppy to hold the attention of the viewers throughout the 60 second “Lost Dog” ad.  Even though the ad does not include any content about beer, Budweiser wins again by appealing to the hearts of dog lovers everywhere.

Celebrity cameos did not disappoint in this year’s Super Bowl ads.

The ad garnering the most respect in this category is the Snickers “Brady Bunch” spot.  Featuring Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi, the ad infuses the classic feel of The Brady Bunch and Snicker’s popular “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign to create a spot that entertains, but doesn’t try too hard while doing it.

Liam Neeson shines in the “Clash of Clans” ad, in which he assumes his now often spoofed Taken character. The actor’s performance no doubt sets “Clash of Clans” apart from the slew of mobile gaming apps available on the market today.

Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric star in the BMW “Newfangled Idea” ad which utilizes a clever flashback to a morning show in 1994 in which the two co-hosts ponder a new invention called the Internet.  Fast forward to 2015, and the pair is engaging in a similar “How does it work?” conversation while driving around in a BMW I3 manufactured in a wind-powered factory.  While I appreciate the clever framing of the ad, I am not sure that BMW’s jump to compare one of its cars with the creation of the internet is completely credible.

T-Mobile’s “#KimsDataStash” spot featuring Kim Kardashian advertises T-Mobile’s data stash capability, and also aims to promote T-Mobile as “The Un-Carrier.”  Kardashian’s appearance in the ad, however, just doesn’t make sense to me, thus rendering the ad unmemorable and ultimately ineffective.

This year’s Super Bowl saw a trend toward somber commercials, with some of them outright grim.  Advertisers may have been trying to imbue their content with meaning, but many viewers were undoubtedly wishing for the crass yet clever ads of past.

Nationwide certainly takes the cake for the grimmest ad of the Super Bowl, which features a young boy talking about all the things he will not be able to do in the future since he has drowned in the bathtub. The ad promotes the Nationwide public-service program “Make Safe Happen,” but Nationwide may have missed the mark when forcing viewers to consider tragic childhood accidents during a Super Bowl commercial break.

Carnival slows down the pace of typical ads in its “Come Back to the Sea” spot, in which John F. Kennedy’s voice accompanies images of Carnival cruise ships peacefully sailing by.  However, the cruise company’s attempt to be profound by utilizing Kennedy’s line “And when we go back to the sea…we are going back from whence we came” immediately loses any of its meaning the moment we consider the original diplomatic context of Kennedy’s speech.

Microsoft and Toyota both incorporated prosthetics in their Super Bowl ad campaigns to create uplifting commercials which tout empowerment despite disability.  In Microsoft’s ad, a six year old boy named Braylon O’Neill born without tibia and fibula bones is able to walk with the help of Microsoft’s prosthetic technology.  Toyota’s “How Great I Am” spot utilizes Paralympic athlete and Dancing with the Stars finalist Amy Purdy to promote its new “#OneBoldChoice” campaign.

This year’s class of Super Bowl ads suggests that we could view 2015 as a transitional year for the most important advertising event in the country.  While it is impossible to determine one defining characteristic for this year’s ads, there definite emphasis was placed on socially conscious ads, while low brow, inappropriate humor was noticeably absent.  50% of Super Bowl ads in 2015 utilized hashtags, a 7% decline from last year, which could indicate an initial decline of hashtags.  Regardless of whether the trends evident in this year’s Super Bowl ads are here to stay, viewers are justified in asking if we will ever see ads like the instant classic E-Trade baby or Dorito’s “Goat 4 Sale” spot again.


-Leah L.