Advertising Age Ad Review: The Super Bowl That Made You Cry

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This Might Have Been the Dad Bowl, but It Definitely Wasn’t Your Daddy’s Super Bowl

By . Published on February 01, 2015

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Look at me. Now look at your man. Now look back at me. Now look back at your man. That dude’s totally crying during the Super Bowl.

We’ve had emotional Super Bowl ads before, but this year marketers seemed intent on squeezing a few gallons of tears out of the crowd, especially the male half, what with all the tributes to Dear Old Dad.

The crazy thing is that it took them this long.

For years, guys have been portrayed mostly as dolts or bros in these ads. Why? Not because marketers are out to get men — as some angry men were always quick to point out — but because it was the easiest laugh. Marketers, though, have come around. It’s not a capitulation to a group of outraged men. Rather, it’s just smart marketing. First, when everyone’s going for comedy, it’s harder to break through. Second, dads like to feel special, too. And dads buy things. Lots of things. And, hello, dads are watching this game. A lot of dads. Dads who may have had a few beers and are maybe feeling a little emotional.

But that’s not the only thing that’s changed.

Not so long ago, Super Bowl advertising was basically an environment peopled with white people, cartoon characters and monkeys. These days, the ad landscape is quite a bit more representative of the audience when it comes to race, gender, age and even physical ability. Good on you, marketers.

Housekeeping: Ad reviewing, like any other reviewing, is subjective. And for the Super Bowl, it’s even more nebulous. What makes a good Super Bowl ad doesn’t necessarily make a good ad-ad. There are different expectations. Four Stars does not necessarily translate to “crowd favorite.”

Four Stars: Powerful and or entertaining advertising that belonged in the game.
Three Stars: Solid effort that met Super Bowl expectations or actually sold something.
Two Stars: Average Super Bowl advertising. Nothing to be ashamed of, really.
One Star: You could have spent your money or time more wisely.

Check out all the ads here. If any ads are missing, it’s for one of the following reasons: the marketer refused to share the ad prior to the game; the ad is not a national Super Bowl ad and is rather something that ran in select markets (like that great American Family Insurance ad); the ad is not, technically, an in-game ad (which we define as happening between kickoff and final whistle).

As stated in previous years, this review is done before the game, not during the game. So there is some crucial context missing. Watching these ads in an office is not like watching them in a real Super Bowl environment. Or, if it mimics a real Super Bowl environment, it’s one in which you’re on antibiotics and can’t drink and the game is a blowout and there’s that one guy who just refuses to shut up during the ads and when everyone tells him to shut up, he’s like, “They’re justads.”

Hey pal, these aren’t just ads, they’re Super Bowl ads.

At any rate, on with the review.

**Check out the full review here, which was originally published on