The X and O: Super Bowl Ads That Stood Out And Fell Short

It’s true that the biggest highlights of Super Bowl Sunday go down in football infamy. From Leon Lett’s premature celebration in Super Bowl XXVII to David Tyree’s nigh-impossible helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII, there’s usually a play that ripples across the American consciousness for weeks and months thereafter.

After a grueling regular season and even more tense playoff match-ups, millions of Americans set aside Netflix to see who will be the National Football League’s World Champions (also convenient that the NFL only comprises 1 country in the world, but they play in London too, so…”world”).

Enter advertising…

In 2015, a staggering 114.4 million people tuned in to Super Bowl XLIX, continuing a legacy of being the biggest stage for brands looking to enter not just the Monday morning small-talk, but to vault their products to the front for American’s buying power.

This year, some ads surprised, some made us think, and some simply left us speechless at how bad they were. But, rather than break down every ad like thousands of blogs have done already, let’s take a look at the automotive ads that revved up our Super Bowl Sunday.

Title: Newfangled Idea
Company: BMW
Agency: kbs+p

This was an early ad during the game, but it just works. A bit of a trope for advertising a new product, however, it’s the clever use of old footage that makes us wonder how such confusion could surround the internet is wonderfully paralleled with 2015’s BMW i3. BMW can only hope its multi-million dollar electric “i division” can reach a sliver of the success the internet has.

Title: With Dad
Company: Nissan
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day

Brace yourself, here comes the dadvertising. For some reason, a lot of ad sites downright hated this ad. Sure, it’s 90 seconds, sure the song has a deeper meaning that supposedly makes it not fit, but boy did it tug at the heart strings. Of course, as an avid follower of sports car racing and the Tudor United Sports Car Championship (and Rolex Series before that), I saw racecars in the first 3 seconds and that was that – instant favorite.

It was probably the highest profile exposure for motorsports and I commend Nissan for drawing interest to their NISMO division, including the new GT-R LM (more on this car later), and a first-time preview of the 2016 Nissan Maxima.

Also, were they going for someone who looked like Patrick Dempsey? Hmm…

Title: Dodge Wisdom
Company: Dodge
Agency: The Richards Group

Well, it’s not a totally new ad, but how can you blame Dodge for bringing back last year’s Super Bowl commercial for another round? It was a huge hit last year and although it doesn’t have the same impact in 2015 (Dodge is now 101 years old), this is the kind of commercial that makes you want to go get a muscle car – young, old, married, single, toothful, toothless.

Buckle up, I’m suddenly channeling my inner Kowalski and want to go be a bit of a badass.

Title: If Your TV Went Out
Company: Chevy
Agency: McCann Erickson

I’ll admit, I barely noticed this commercial despite trying to watch for every one. Meant to grab attention, its black slate minimalism relegates it to background entertainment at a Super Bowl party. Were they trying to find a way to shoehorn in 4G LTE Wi-Fi? Were they trying to convince you to buy a truck through subliminal advertising? Either way, the Colorado isn’t shown long enough, and the ad world’s favorite cure-all soundtrack from AC/DC can’t bring this spot back from the black depths of forgotten commercials.

Title: Make Some Noise
Company: Lexus
Agency: Walton Isaacson

Interesting to find out that this was a W|I spot and not from Lexus’ agency of record, Team One. Continuing a theme of contrast and high-fashion, “Make Some Noise” follows one of my personal favorite spots, “Color Shift.” Unfortunately, like Lexus’ effort overall, it’s quite a miss. Too dark, too many things going on, and where’s the F-Sport model? The NX is a big deal to the industry and unlike how Lexus launched the new IS, I don’t think this spot will propel the NX to the front of shoppers’ minds.

Still, at least we can hope the engine under the hood of the NX brings the 2016 IS 250 back to its former performance glory.

And honorable mention to the toe fungus commercial, which I’ll spare everyone a review of.