Bud.wei.ser. Wassup?! It’s a Tide ad. That Mountain Dew commercial with Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage. These are some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials that I can remember from the last twenty years (my concept of time may be off so it could be longer than twenty years). There are plenty of iconic ads that I’m not thinking of at the moment, but there are plenty of others that air and then just go into the abyss never to be heard about ever again unless we search the bottom of the file cabinet in our brain. Needless to say, that’s where most of the ads from this year will end up. There were several that made me laugh and gently chuckle, but none that will be added to the list of notable ads. Big advertisers of yesteryear, such as Budweiser and Coca-Cola, declined to buy airtime this year to put those funds towards COVID-19 vaccine education. This should have opened the door for some up and comers, but I guess those up and comers didn’t get the memo that the door opened in the first place. This got me thinking: Why are most of the Super Bowl ads in recent years so forgettable? Does the formula for good Super Bowl advertising need to be revamped?
I’ve noticed that most advertisers with YouTube or other social media pages that have an upcoming Super Bowl ad will either post a preview of it or post the whole thing ahead of time. Of course, this is going to take away the thrill of watching new material. Why not just refrain from putting anything related to the Super Bowl on your social media pages until after the ad airs? It seems obvious, right? Some people want an element of surprise in seeing the new ads. Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes old habits don’t die; advertisers should act as if social media didn’t exist and keep those ads on lock and key like Fort Knox.
A good Super Bowl commercial evokes a certain type of emotion, whether it be complete and utter laughter for five minutes straight or a tear (those Clydesdale ads will make anyone misty-eyed). You remember them because they made you feel something. Whether it’s the fact that the ad’s message may have been repeatedly communicated to us throughout the last year (or more), the focus group watching the ad was more sensitive than the average person, or I’m just Ice Woman, ads really haven’t accomplished this goal. I don’t know about you, but it’s taken a little more for those Clydesdale ads to make me emotional. It’s subjective, I get it, but there’s a problem when the room is stone-cold (Hopefully with just your family or close friends; stay distant, friends. We’re still in a pandemic and I would like to get out of it sooner than later).
Some people watch the Super Bowl to escape reality for a couple of hours, away from the calls to unify our country and just how messed up our world seems nowadays. I’m not saying that they don’t want unity across the country but may just want to see men chase a ball around and tackle each other for three and a half hours. Jeep tried to accomplish these calls for unity in their ad with Bruce Springsteen, but it seems as if the ad just fell flat. The overloading of politics in these things that are supposed to bring us joy, entertainment, and relaxation may just take the fun out of it.
Despite the fact that most of the ads were nothing to shake a stick at, I thought the game was good (keep in mind, I know little about football, its plays and the mechanics of it, but it looked like a good game). I wasn’t surprised by any means that Tampa Bay won since Tom Brady was the quarterback (he’s grown on me in the last year or two) and they were on their own field, but I didn’t think they would win by such a landslide. The halftime show was just…okay. I like The Weeknd, but it wasn’t as thrilling as past performances, like Lady Gaga or last year’s performance. However, I think he did his best considering the circumstances of being prohibited from having a musical guest and the significant decrease of the audience.
Some people don’t watch the game and instead are more excited to see the ads (I would fall into that category). However, the fact that they continue to be underwhelming year after year may decrease viewership of the game and the ads. I’m sure that it won’t change the consumer behavior unless the ad is really weird (looking at you, Oat-ly). However, companies’ needs to prove their wokeness or the fact that the ads have lost their thrill may pay a price for them in addition to the NFL.