Now that we’ve had a moment to digest and celebrate the unbelievable Pats comeback and win, it’s time to dish on the other highlight of the night: this year’s Super Bowl commercials. Like the big game, this year’s entertainment certainly didn’t disappoint.
Over the course of the night we saw lots of star power, a fair share of political statements and a touch of spiciness making a few spots NSFW or, in the case of T-Mobile, #NSFWireless.
Potluck dinner duo Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg kicked off the night with a touch of humor in T-Mobile’s first ad of the evening followed by comedian actress Melissa McCarthy, who in Kia’s ad, showed us that although funny, a hero’s journey is never easy. If you lost touch with physics and chemistry, our favorite science guy made a comeback as Persil tapped Bill Nye for its “science of clean” spot. Other big names of the night include Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken for Bai, Terry Bradshaw and Jeffrey Tambour for Tide, LeBron James for Sprite, Morgan Freeman for Turkish Airlines and even our own Brady himself scored a touchdown during the breaks making an appearance for Intel.
This year’s Super Bowl was also an opportunity for advertisers to make a statement on hot-button issues. Audi stuck to its #DriveProgress campaign with its 60-second spot tackling the topic of gender equality. The ad ended with Audi letting viewers know it is “committed to equal pay for equal work.” Airbnb also took a direct approach to its mission of diversity and inclusion with the “We Accept” spot that let viewers know that all are welcome.
Perhaps the most emotional ad of the night was from a lumber company you and I have probably never heard of. 84 Lumber followed a mother and daughter’s symbolic migrant journey toward becoming legal American citizens. The ad, deemed too controversial for TV, caused FOX to run a 90-second teaser directing viewers to finish the story online. Traffic to 84 Lumber’s page caused the site to crash almost immediately after airing. Luckily, the company’s YouTube page had the ad in its entirety.
The story ends with the family arriving to a tall concrete fence on the border; when all hope seems lost, the mother finds a wooden doorway. With a push the doors open and the ad ends with the brand’s message of “the will to succeed is always welcome here.”
What’s a Super Bowl without a little touch of controversy?
The night wouldn’t have been complete without a touch of naughtiness. 2017 will be known as the year that Mr. Clean was dirty. Yes, you read that right. Mr. Clean channeled his inner Magic Mike to give the brand one of, if not the, most-talked about ads of the night. I will probably never see my disinfectant spray the same way again. Also heating things up was T-Mobile with two semi-uncomfortable but hilarious 50 Shades of Grey spinoffs including actress Kristen Shaal. With the spots titled #Punished and #NSFWireless using the hashtag #TheSafeWordisUnlimited, you can see T-Mobile had no inhibitions about letting viewers know that Verizon is for financial masochists. Unexpected and hilarious, these commercials were the ones you couldn’t take your eyes off of. It’s safe to call them the guilty pleasure of the night.
The ads were for the most part entertaining and winners in their own right, but if there’s one clear champion of the night it’s not any of these ads; in fact, it’s not even an ad at all. The true winner of Super Bowl LI, after the Pats of course, is FOX. As a result of the game’s overtime, the network generated an additional $20 million in ad revenue. How’s that for an added bonus? FOX, Gaga, Pats, brands; it seems like everyone won at this year’s big game, everyone except the Falcons that is.
– Jon Salas