Decoding 2016 Super Bowl commercials, 1st quarter

Super Bowl 2016,
and we have a new round of super commercials.  This is our third Super Bowl analysis overthinking what the big-ad companies were really trying to tell us.  Read more about the first quarter.

Anheuser-Busch, Breathe
30 seconds for beer.
Themes: Group think.
Messaging: Drinking beer is a habit like exorcise.
Commentary:  Different people, with common goals, are in unison.  This is where group think is influential.  End your workout with a Michelob.  Notice there are no spoken words.  Every breath is no different than popping opening a bottle.
Did it work? No, I don’t think group think ads are effective.

Mars, Marilyn
32 seconds for junk food.
Themes: A-list stars, retro.
Messaging: We were smiling more when we snacked without shame.
Commentary:  The first of the retro-themed ads, its comes with an overt, in-your-face message “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”  It also says something else.  Tailored to those who remember Marilyn Monroe you can re-live the past with Snickers.  If you were smiling Willem Dafoe biting into a Snickers, it worked.
Did it work? Yes, although it did cheapen Marilyn Monroe’s image for the moment.

SoFi, Great Loans for Great People
20 seconds for loans.
Themes: Confusion.
Messaging: Getting loan is easy for deserving millennials.
Commentary:  As the camera swings from one person to the other, we haven’t grasped the connection or what the ad is selling.  We do know people are graded, or better put, scored.  Brandon, the star of the ad, is the only one making a purchase and coming through with a plan.  More subtle, he walks away with something after making a financial trade.  Brandon is great, he’s prepared and most deserving.  While the ad may be dizzy, getting a loan is not for those who are not equally prepared.
Did it work? 50K loan for people ordering take out?  I’m as lost as most.

Avocados, Bounty of Earth
29 seconds for avocados.
Themes: Nostalgia.
Messaging: Avocados are timeless.
Commentary:  With a cameo from Scott Baio, it highlights our past and a fictional, sci-fi future.  But the avocado was always there and always will be.  (Even in space?) All other diets, like the exhibits, are only fads.
Did it work? Yes.

Hyundai, The Chase
30 seconds for automobiles.
Themes: Animals.
Messaging: Buy a Hyundai before the recession starts.
Commentary: You really didn’t think it was simple as Hyundai may save you from talking bears, did you?  Hurrying and buying a vehicle is in Hyundai’s best interest.  The bears represent the present market turbulence and devaluation.  Some things are too easy.
Did it work? No., Moving Day
62 seconds for apartments.
Themes: A-list stars, nostalgia, group think.
Messaging: Celebrate renting as much as others celebrate owning.
Commentary: With the classic theme from The Jeffersons, we follow Jeff Goldblum’s accent.  The group think comes with the many church-robe wearing chorus.  They are your fellow renters.  Like your church patrons, they are your like-minded friends.  If the idea of renting is intertwined in your life, make a part of it too.
Did it work? Like the ad, but I don’t rent.

Machine Zone, Arnold’s Fight
32 seconds for mobile apps.
Themes: A-list stars, incongruity.
Messaging: You’re not by yourself when you play alone.
Commentary: A bunch of players, of all sorts, come together for a common goal.  There is chaos, wrath, and all fun.  I added incongruity for the comedic aspect of many things out of place.
Did it work? Yes, but I’m not playing the game.

Doritos, Ultrasound
30 seconds for junk food.
Themes: Incongruity.
Messaging: Never too soon to enjoy Doritos.
Commentary: Ranking number 1 as most favorite ad, Doritos Super Bowl commercials has always been unapologetic about having a shameless place in our lives.  Mind the father, is he aloof?  Or does he just  chooses to eat Doritos without giving a second thought?  Mind the mother, who is out voted by her family.   Doritos is about instant gratification.  Having a baby is not.
Did it work? I’m not a mainstream fan, but it goes into the “yes” column.

Paypal, There’s a New Money In Town
45 seconds for money handling.
Themes: Social commentary (change).
Messaging: Cash is obsolete.
Commentary: The world is moving faster, the ad helps perpetuate this belief.  In a digital world, there are still many who remember it doesn’t cost extra to trade cash for goods.  This ads appeals to those who don’t.
Did it work? No, money handling as been around longer than Paypal.

Disney, The Jungle Book
30 seconds for movie promotion.
Themes: Animals, absurd special effects
Messaging: Larger than life.
Commentary: While running and chasing has its distant similarities to the Super Bowl, both the film and the game are larger than life.  If you don’t agree, watch the trailer again.  Notice how the animals reach outside the frame.
Did it work? No.

Audi, Commander
60 seconds for automobiles.
Themes: Nostalgia.
Messaging: Those who buy cars are the real heroes.
Commentary: “Buying a car will make you feel young again,” is too easy.  Dig deeper.  Cars are not as important to Millennials as the generations before them.  This is very bad news for car manufacturers.  To survive, they have to reach again into the wells of the elderly again for another grab at their money.  This isn’t about a car for a hero.  This about making heroes who buy cars.
Did it work? Yes, its ranks 2nd highest for a reason.

Mountain Dew, PuppyMonkeyBaby
30 seconds for junk food.
Themes: Absurd special effects, pied-piper.
Messaging: The drink for slackers.
Commentary: Three young adult males think about doing nothing but chilling on their couch.  Obviously, they’re not representing affluence or influence.  Enter a questionable, absurd hybrid creature.  It easily hypnotizes them into buying into the product and leading a life outside their shelter.  This is the “pied-piper” method we haven’t seen in the Super Bowl since Bono.
Did it work? Yes, because people talk about it.

Taco Bell, Bigger Than the Super Bowl
30 seconds for junk food.
Themes: Freudian.
Messaging: It looks bigger when it stretches.
Commentary: With B-list stars galore, Taco Bell kicks off a shameless Freudian ad with numerous references to size.  From taco halves, headphones, to uprights – we’re reminded of length.  There’s even an awkward Tinder reference staring the Sock Bun hipster.
Did it work? No.

Marmot Apparel, Fall in Love with the Outside
32 seconds for apparel.
Themes: Animals.
Messaging: Stretch your arms, grab Marmot off the rack, try it on.
Commentary: The ad opens and closes with stretched arms with plenty in between. This isn’t a couple enjoying the outdoors.  This is exercise for you indoors at the store.  The arm gestures you see are what you’ll be doing trying on their clothes.
Did it work? Cute, but no.

Squarespace, Button Hook
30 seconds for building websites.
Themes: Stupid simple.
Messaging: The Internet, a perfect place for pretenders.
Commentary: Comedians, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele disguise themselves as sport-commentators wannabees.  Put on costumes, talk funny, and build a website and live out your dream.  Even if no one is looking.
Did it work? Not for Squarespace.  While I do relate, I’m with GoDaddy and WordPress.

Anheuser-Busch, T. J. Miller
30 seconds for beer.
Themes: Incongruity.
Messaging: You’re never alone with a beer.
Commentary: The easy analysis is simply saying you can order beer by yourself at the bar.  However, beer is about feeling good about yourself.  To the beer industry, your self-esteem and identity is one with the adult beverage.  The real message here is you’re not alone with a Shock Top.  This is your buddy, your best friend.  A theme seen in many AB ads.
Did it work? Yes.  It’s subtle and clever.

Buick, The Big Day
30 seconds for automobiles.
Themes: Incongruity.
Messaging: Let’s start over.
Commentary: Odell Beckham Jr, known for his one-handed catch in Superbowl 48 and Emily Ratajkowski make an appearance re-writing our perception of the Buick brand.  As presumptuous as fabricating a new slang, “Odell”, Buick is fabricating a new image for itself.  The wedding symbolizes a new beginning with younger couples who many realize how tarnished the brand has become.
Did it work? No.

Links 404 over time

Advil, Anthem
30 seconds for non-prescription medicine.
Themes: Incongruity, confusion.
Messaging: Clear your mind.
Commentary: I chose incongruity for its theme considering the ad touts pain relief while not really showing anyone in pain.  Another example, is very few of us could do any one thing shown.  We see a flurry of images, one disconnected from the other purposely disorienting us.  It finally closes on a simple background with a Advil tablet front and center.   As it nearly opens with yoga it closes with mental tranquility.  It’s final use of incongruity becomes clear.
Did it work? No.

Universal – Bourne 5
30 seconds for movie promotion.
Themes: A-list star.
Messaging: Watch it for the violence.
Commentary: How is this related to football?  There is an audience, gambling, and television monitoring.  Other than that there is only action, violence, and you know the players.
Did it work? No.

Dollar Shave Club, Zeke Exec
32 seconds for men’s razors.
Themes: Freudian.
Messaging: Groom or lose your wife.
Commentary: He hasn’t been using his razor.  His wife leaves.  Another man enters the picture.  Enough said.
Did it work? No.

Acura NSX – What He Said
30 seconds for automobiles.
Themes: Nostalgia.
Messaging: If you can remember David Lee Roth, you can afford this car.
Commentary: With pinpoint aim, this is a deliberately simple, target direct ad to a selected demographic.  If you don’t hear or recognize the music, it wasn’t for you.
Did it work? It really didn’t.

Quicken Loans, What we were thinking?
60 seconds for loans.
Themes: Group think.
Messaging: Free money.
Commentary: It’s near impossible to believe a loan company would come out with something so irresponsible and economically dystopian.  It’s revolutionary vision of organizing the masses into instant redistribution of wealth by pressing a button on your mobile device is laughable.
Did it work? No, what were they thinking?

Jump to 1st quarter, 2nd quarter and half time, 3rd quarter, 4th quarter.




Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.