If you're like me, you gather with friends, pizza and beer on Super Bowl Sunday not to watch the game, but to watch the commercials. It was a conservative year relieved from sex appeal. (Minus the Kim Kardashian ad. What was she selling again?) With over 100 million viewers, many of which have already evaluated these commercials to shreds, I thought I'd weigh in on with my favorite and least favorite picks.
FAVORITE: Carnival's "Come Back to the Sea", BBDO Atlanta
Now, maybe I'm partial because the copy was likely written by Lincoln-native Ted Sorensen, but this one nailed it. The voiceover borrowed from a 1962 speech delivered by JFK. In an evening cluttered with choppy story lines and jokes that didn't land, JFK's voice coupled with serene images broke through in a poetic fashion. This was Carnival's first ever Super Bowl commercial. Undoubtedly, they aimed to gain some popularity after years riddled with tragedies. And what better way to win back the hearts of America than by utilizing America's favorite president? JFK's speech describes humanity's infatuation with the ocean, and Carnival expertly took advantage of his message to pose itself as a extravagant way to "come back to the sea." It certainly wasn't the most creative spot of the night, nor the most effective, but as soon as the Super Bowl was over it was the first commercial my friends and I looked up to watch again.
LEAST FAVORITE: Nationwide's "Make Safe Happen", who cares
This was the epitome of trying too hard. The ad features a little boy who talks of learning to ride a bike and getting married. But he can't because he "died in an accident". OK. First off, I don't even want to think about how much this ad cost. It's full of cinema-quality special effects on top of the $4.5 million the media buy cost. I will admit that this ad is probably the most talked about of the bunch. But not in a good way. The video on Youtube already has 8 thousand dislikes to 3 thousand likes. I've even seen blogs discussing the possibility of this being the worst Super Bowl ad of all time. Not the best bang for your buck, Nationwide.
But what really upsets me about this commercial is it's lazy. If you explained to a 5 year old what insurance was and then asked him to write a commercial to sell it, I would bet my left nut he would come up with something like this. It's not creative. It's not clever. There's nothing subtle about the delivery. It's laughable. Using scare tactics is a delicate and powerful art. Too little and you fail to evoke emotion from your audience. Too much and you turn off your audience all together.
When parents think of Nationwide, they no longer think of "on your side". They only think of children dying. Not great.