Great companies give their people a purpose or challenge around which to develop ideas rather than simply instruct them to make a better mouse trap. – Simon Sinek

Whether your team won or lost, your a sports fan or your not, we all LOVE Super Bowl commercials. That is unless you are my husband. He is the kind of person that would rather ask you how many baskets the Patriots made in order to frustrate those around him than actually take part in anything Super Bowl related. We all know “that guy.”

For me I find Super Bowl ads inspiring. I mean, I do kinda LOVE everything marketing. With a imaginative mind, a seemingly unlimited budget and a good message what can go wrong? Lots.

What really makes a good super bowl commercial? Is it jumping on the political bandwagon against the establishment? Is it relating to your customers sense of self or showing your work? What if, just maybe, it’s none of those?

Please enjoy my take on the Super Bowl LI commercials of 2017.

Against the Establishment

With tensions rising regarding the recent election this theme was by far, the most prevalent throughout the evening. In a series of Super Bowl LI ads touching on progressive causes. Airbnb aired an ad promoting acceptance of people “no matter … where you come from,” while Budweiser and hardware chain 84 Lumber told stories of immigrants seeking new lives in America and Audi highlighted “equal pay for equal work.”

Utilizing a large public event, such as Super Bowl LI, as a platform to “make their voices heard” is a selfish, manipulative way to capitalize off of social unrest. Especially when the company making the BOLD statement doesn’t even practice what they preach.

Take Audi for example (if you missed the game or haven’t seen the ad yet now’s your chance):

I have seen this ad all over my social feeds today and for the most part it has been meet with admiration. Even Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, praised the ad.


I on the other hand, do not see the #DrivingProgress commercial as such a winner. In the commercial Audi demonstrates their commitment to equal pay in a 60-second spot about a man and his daughter.

The ad features the dad watching his daughter in a cart race as she passes competitor after competitor, all of them boys, before finishing in first place.

“Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?” the father says in a voiceover. “Or maybe I’ll be able to tell her something different.”

The ad cuts to black, and white text appears: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Progress is for everyone.”

However, if you look closely you will realize that Audi is just another company manipulating the public for sales. The issue they were trying to capitalize on is called a “wage gap,” and there is, indeed, a wage gap between men and women in America. But why would you ever tell your daughter that she is worth less than any man she would ever meet? If we take it a step further, why would you ever tell anyone, especially your child, whether they are male or female, that a person’s value is based solely on how much money they earned?

I guess when you are blinded by your own reflection, the facts tend to be viewed through rose colored glasses.

148643165429819 (1).png

The car company’s “Equal Pay” commercial flies in the face of the facts, creates divisions between the sexes, manipulates consumers into self identifying with the product, and fails to do what an advertisement should do—make people want to buy the product.

Reflection of Self

How we see ourselves, the so-called Mind-Body problem, is one of the greatest and most quietly painful conundrums in philosophy – and more importantly, in everyday life. Now, you may be wondering, what does that have to do with Super Bowl commercials or advertising? Let me explain.

The Mind-Body problem is rooted in the fact that in the eyes of other people, all of us are automatically and stubbornly associated with our bodies. The relationship between the mental realm (our thoughts, beliefs, pains, sensations, emotions) and the physical realm (what we can touch, taste, smell and see) creates a duality that motivates us to provide a more accurate portrayal of who we are. Our characters in turn, are liable to mold themselves to the personalities implied by our appearance as a result of years of others assuming this must be who we are and treating us in the light of our appearence.

Often when we make the decision to purchase something the purchase says more about who we are as people than it does about the product itself. Just watch these commercials:

Do you want to make the world a better place? Travel with us.

Do you consider your disruptive? Use Wix.

Do you wish to be more enlightened? Visit the Middle East via Turkish Airlines.

Now, tell me that those commercials didn’t call to your inner self, just a little…

Show Your Work

In a previous blog entitled, “Show Your Work” I discussed why sharing your process with the world is a great way to demonstrate your WHY. As it tuns out it is also a great way to show the HOW. Just watch Google Home’s Super Bowl commercial spot.

Hyundai, on the other hand, literally “Showed Their Work.” The 90-second Hyundai ad that ran in the so-called “post-gun” slot just after the game ended was a heart-tugging TV first.

This ad was incredibly complex from start to finish and Hyundai did a excellent job in “Showing Their Work.” Now, I would like to be able to continue on with this example highlighting how this aligns with Hyundai’s WHY but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how Eric Springer, chief creative officer of the ad agency Innocean USA, went on record saying, “No one can get enough of the military surprising their loved ones when they come home from overseas. We see that all the time. What we’ve never seen, (or at least) what we couldn’t find, was any soldier who was surprised by their loved ones.” So unfortunately this ad was manipulative capitalizing off to our emotions and love for the military. Not what I would call a good Ad.

And the Award for Friendship Goes To…

Budweiser appears to have learned from past mistakes this year with their comeback of the “friends are waiting” campaign from Super Bowls past after finally realizing that in general, Communicus has found about 60% of ads it tests don’t increase purchase or purchase intent.

In My Humble Opinion…

In the end, the companies that choose to remain true to their message won the evening and quite possibly the year when it comes to sales.

Skittles, “Romance The Rainbow” was an excellent commercial! Instead of choosing to take a political stance, or capitalize on our emotions and insecurities it offers a funny take on unrequited love.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner – I think I will be getting the love of my life some skittles. How about you?

Another great ad was T-Mobile’s #Punished commercials which sparked the strangest Twitter battle. T-Mobile’s campaign—inspired by the S&M-themed movie 50 Shades of Grey and its sequel 50 Shades Darker being released this month—starred comedian and actress Kristen Schaal pretending to get excited by the “pain” of various Verizon fees.

Having just fired Verizon myself, I found this to be a very clever and entertaining ad spot. And yes, I like this ad because it accurately reflects what I believe about Verizon.

Last but not least there was the Bai commercial with Walken and Timberlake. By FAR MY FAVORITE SPOT! Bai Brands’ 30-second spot for its beverage line featured Walken dramatically delivering the lyrics from “Bye Bye Bye,” the hit song in 2000 from ’N Sync. Walken turns to band alum Timberlake, in a smoking jacket, who seemingly acknowledged his approval.

Bai brought Timberlake on last last November as a corporate advisor — chief flavor officer (whatever that is). The spot was developed by Bai’s in-house creative team led by the company’s chief creative officer, Chad Portas. It was the second year that Bai advertised in the Super Bowl.

I literally love EVERYTHING about these two ads and apparently I am not the only one. According to TiVo, which analyzed video streams to determine which commercial had the best engagement among viewers, Bai’s advertisement was this year’s fan favorite.

But does it make people want to buy the product?

I’d say yes.


What was your favorite Super Bowl Commercial in 2017?

Tell us in the comments below!