It’s Super Bowl time, and once again, CR has sat down and watched all of the ads from the big game, so you don’t have to.
To sum up, 2019 has not been what anyone would call a vintage year for Super Bowl advertising. Whereas in recent years, we’ve seen brands make brave (and occasionally foolish) strides into political statement-making and brand purpose in their commercials, this year sees them beat a retreat into much safer ground.
Instead, we saw a number of unexciting attempts at light-hearted comedy, and the usual crop of celebrity endorsements, though it was notable that a number of these went to female leads for a change, with Serena Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Michelle Gellar all making appearances.
Beyond that the only other obvious trends were an anxiety about the arrival of robots in our society (along with a defensive need to point out, again, that they will never be as human as us), and a fair bit of nostalgia, particularly for Andy Warhol.
Here’s our pick of the ads worth watching this time:
Alexa: Not Everything Makes The Cut (Lucky Generals/Amazon In-House)
Great celeb appearances (Harrison Ford!) plus a sense of humour makes this spot for Amazon’s Alexa a Super Bowl winner. Plus it doesn’t shy away from the dark power potentially contained in Alexa and other new technologies, and instead tries to make us chuckle about it.
Bud Light: Joust (Wieden + Kennedy New York)
For those who’ve found the whole Bud Light Dilly Dilly thing annoying, relief can be found here in this neat brand crossover spot.
Budweiser: Wind Never Felt Better (David Miami)
Dogs and Dylan: maybe that’s all the ideas you need?
Burger King: Eat Like Andy (David Miami/MullenLowe)
Andy Warhol eats a Burger King: maybe that’s all the ideas you need? Interesting repurposing of real documentary footage of Warhol, which could of worked for either Burger King or Heinz. Worth mentioning that this came from one of the agencies behind bringing the Mad Men Heinz ads to life a couple of years ago.
Coke: A Coke Is A Coke
Also ‘inspired’ by Warhol this year was Coke, who created this beautiful-looking (if slightly dull) animated spot, which ran before the game itself. The ad’s title comes from a phrase used by Warhol in his 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.
Devour: Devour Food Porn Addiction (David Miami)
This spot feels like it should have been funnier, but hats off to Devour for not pretending their food is good for you. Kind of reminiscent of the Pot Noodles approach back in the day, but without the wildness.
Expensify (JohnXHannes New York): Expensify This
How do you make doing your expenses seem interesting? Turn it into an interactive music video starring 2 Chainz. Pretty clever.
Google Translate: 100 Billion (Google Creative Lab)
Smooth bit of product placement with a schmaltzy, yet feel-good finish that somehow manages to make it seems ok (for 30 seconds at least) about Google collating all our data. Google also delivered a strong ad highlighting its job search for veterans functionality.
Hyundai: The Elevator (Innocean Worldwide)
The premise here is pretty plodding but it is saved by nice performances. Jason Bateman stars as an elevator guy shepherding souls through the various elevator floors of hell: root canals, jury duty, the middle seat on a plane etc. Shopping for a car is supposedly beneath all these, until our protagonists reveal they are using Hyundai Shopper Assurance, which whisks them back up to the top floors.