Handicapping the Ads: Super Bowl 50’s Reach for History
Celebrity appearances abound in this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads. While this is a proven formula, the question remains: Will any of this year’s spots rank among the most iconic of all time?
These creative executions are reaching for history as much as the teams on the field. The end goal is creating the next Apple 1984, the Cindy Crawford Pepsi spot or, perhaps, my all time favourite Budweiser Frogs.
For starters, LG has employed Jake Scott, son of Sir Ridley, to helm a pretty cool sci-fi ad, “The Future Belongs to Us.” I’m guessing ‘us’ means the family as it also features Michael Neeson as well as his dad Liam. They’re both great in this visually intriguing commercial.
Helen Mirren stars in a “Don’t Drink and Drive” ad as a grumpy Englishwoman. The impact of this may be lost in translation across the Atlantic – but she does utter the immortal line “Don’t be a pillock!” which could quickly become a Super Bowl catchphrase.
MINI USA taps a bunch of celebrities asking us to “Defy Labels,” while Snickers promises us Marilyn Monroe in what looks like a great extension to the “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign. It’s great to see something from a consistently good campaign here rather than just one-off ads.
Amazon guarantees a laugh with a gag about ‘Deflategate’ soft cheeses looking like soft footballs. Alec Baldwin does the honours in this spoof of last year’s controversy. Then there’s something for the boys with Kate Upton flaunting her assets for Mercedes. And for the girls, there’s a lot of Ryan Reynolds in ‘Ryanville’ for Hyundai.
Aside from celebrities, a great song always helps to ‘wow’ the crowd. This year, Honda continues the Super Bowl tradition of talking animals with some crooning sheep. This time they’re singing in harmony to Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” advertising the Honda Ridgeline’s new truck bed audio system. I still don’t know why you’d want audio in the back of your truck, but the ad made me laugh.
Another ad that made me laugh out loud was the Heinz wiener dogs. It’s one big visual gag - so stupid it’s brilliant!
There’s a great ad for Axe encouraging us to “Find your magic.” After years of brilliant but arguably sexist ads, this spot challenges the traditional perceptions of masculinity and invites us to embrace our own interpretation of what makes a man. I admire this, especially during a Super Bowl fired up with testosterone.
But my favourite is the Audi R8 commercial. A poignantly brilliant song by David Bowie and an emotional narrative that tells the story of a retired astronaut, feeling the boredom of old age who rediscovers his passion for life with a car that purportedly can recreate the feeling of a space rocket. Maybe it’s a slight over claim (it’s actually got a top speed of 205mph), but it left me feeling nostalgic for the sense of adventure and bravery of the space programme and the individuality of Ziggy Stardust. It also left me yearning to see more ads that are so beautifully directed as this.
Will any of the ads rank alongside the iconic ads of the past? My hunch is that it will be a good year, but not a vintage one. (And that the Broncos will win!).
David Harris is Executive Creative Director at gyro London