NEW YORK — If you’re talking about Super Bowl ads with co-workers on Monday, you’re not alone.
Advertisers tried to win over Americans during the game — some tried serious themes, while others went with humor. With 30-second ads costing $4.5 million for the chance to market their brand to 110-plus million Americans, advertisers were making a big bet. And just like the game, there were winners and losers:
Sticking to its winning formula of puppies and Clydesdales, Brewer Anheuser-Busch’s ad shows a Labrador puppy chasing after the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales that are being moved to a new stable. The tune, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” performed by Sleeping at Last, plays in the background.
The automaker was a surprise hit before the kickoff with a spot that appeared to be a live game feed that suddenly turned to static and then a blank screen. It turns out it was a gimmick to highlight the fact that the Chevrolet Colorado has 4G LTE Wi-Fi, so viewers could stream the game in the car if they needed to.
Two Esurance ads showed actress Lindsay Lohan being a “sorta” mom and Bryan Cranston as “Breaking Bad” character Walter White being a “sorta” pharmacist to show when it comes to car insurance “sorta” doesn’t cut it.
Chrysler scored with three spots. For an ad promoting Fiat’s 2016 Fiat 500xcrossover vehicle, Chrysler used humor, showing an older Italian couple getting frisky in the bedroom. When the man’s “blue pill” goes flying out the window, it lands in the gas tank of a Fiat, causing nearby women to give the car a second glance. A voiceover says the new Fiat is “bigger more powerful and ready for action.”
McDonald’s ad surrounds a promotion in which it will randomly select customers to pay for their orders with acts of love, like a high-five or a call to a relative. The promotion starts Monday and runs through Feb. 14.
“Mindy Project” star Mindy Kaling walks around New York believing she is invisible and doing scandalous acts, including sitting naked in Central Park and going through a car wash. Then she tries to kiss Matt Damon but he can see her. The idea is Nationwide doesn’t treat you like you’re invisible.
The 30-second ad recreates the famous Brady Bunch episode in which the oldest daughter, Marcia, gets hit in the nose with a football. Movie “Machete” star Danny Trejo plays “Marcia” in the ad and actor Steve Buscemi plays Jan, her sister.
In one of the most serious ads of the night, Nationwide showed a boy riding a school bus and lamenting he’ll never learn to fly, or travel the world with his best friend, or even grow up, because he died in an accident. The ad for Nationwide was aimed at stopping preventable childhood accidents.
“The intention of that ad was very good, but it’s just playing with fire focusing on an adolescents’ death in the context of the Super Bowl,” said Charles Taylor, marketing professor at the Villanova School of Business in Pennsylvania.
The weight-loss services provider portrayed a big-brother like montage of, doughnuts, pizza and other gluttonous food with an ominous voiceover saying “You gotta eat, right?” providing one of the few creepy moments of the evening. The tagline is “It’s time to take back control.”
The goal was to promote its weight loss services, but some thought that the message was lost. It was one of the ads getting the most negative feedback from viewers on the viewing panel of Villanova’s Taylor. “Some people are saying it made them want to eat more than anything,” he said.
The ad for a toe fungus treatment showed animated toes playing football, but it did not win over all viewers.
“If you’re going to do an ad for toenail fungus it needed to be funny, and it wasn’t,” said Super Bowl viewer Naomi Zikmund-Fisher, a psychotherapist from Ann Arbor, Mich.