For this week’s post, our team thought it would be fun to recap the public AND professional reactions to this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials. We examined what major publications as well as various social media channels were talking about… both good AND bad.

Humor Trumps Politics

Last year’s Super Bowl featured several ads that were political in nature. This year, companies focused more on humor and nostalgia. Many industry experts saw this as a direct reaction to the fractured climate that exists among Americans as gridlock continues in Washington. 

Some of the most talked-about commercials include:

As the Super Bowl headed into its final quarter, the ads fluctuated between funny and somber. The N.F.L.’s own ad featuring the New York Giants’ Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. re-enacting the climactic dance scene from “Dirty Dancing” was a huge hit, as was Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spot.

“There’s definitely a humanitarian theme that is running through the spots,” said Margaret Johnson, chief creative officer of the agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which created the Doritos-Mountain Dew ad. “That and humor seem to be the two themes of the night.”
While there were no commercials connected to the #MeToo movement, some still saw progress when it came to the role of gender in Super Bowl ads. “In a culture and a climate where it’s hard to find any kind of positive news out there at the moment, it felt like something we wanted to really lean into and take on a very different message,” said Andrew McKechnie, Verizon’s chief creative officer.

Social media blew up about the Dodge Ram truck commercial, which utilized a voice-over of a speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. And while the reaction to this ad was quite negative and generated much discussion, it appears that social media was in agreement that the “Alexa” and “Dirty Dancing” ads topped this year’s list of “best in show”.

And while “product sales” were still the mainstay throughout the game, more and more we’re seeing extravagant productions for everything from movies and TV network shows, to tourism promotion for Australia.

Watch The Ads Again!

If you’d like to check out any of the commercials again, here’s a link to the world famous USA Today “Ad Meter” that is compiled through a nationwide group of reviews in real time. (Once the new browser window opens, scroll to the bottom of the report to see the reel of all 64 spots).

NOTE: Special thanks to the New York Times, Ad Age and USA TODAY for their links and commentary.