Super Bowl Ads: Too Much of Vintage Vibe and Tired Tactics?

Sunday’s collection of Super Bowl ads failed to impress advertising columnist Stuart Elliott. “The commercials that CBS broadcast nationally during the game were, by and large, disappointing,” he writes. “They represented a missed opportunity for marketers and agencies to demonstrate that they had at least some understanding of how contemporary consumers think and behave.”

Despite a few standouts from Budweiser, M&M’s and Mercedes-Benz, Elliott was disappointed by references involving the prom, a mother-in-law joke, cliche use of ethnic dialects, a young man nervously uttering “panties,” a preoccupation with space travel and a chorus of leggy dancing girls dressed as pistachios.

“Alas, the so-called creative minds of Madison Avenue chose once again to fall back on familiar strategies and themes that would have appealed more to viewers during the Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan or Clinton administrations,” he writes in The New York Times.

“There was also the usual overreliance on tried and true — read: ‘tired’ — Super Bowl ad tactics. Anthropomorphic animals abounded in spots for brands like, Doritos and Skechers, and slapstick violence, with men always the victims, in spots for brands like the Kia Forte.”

But all was not dismal this year. Among the standouts, Elliott notes the following ads: two compelling Bud Light spots featuring Stevie Wonder as a purveyor of mojo, the heartwarming Budweiser story of a Clydesdale and its trainer, an M&M ad set to the song “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” and a Mercedes-Benz plot that “echoed everything from ‘Faust’ to ‘Damn Yankees.'”

Elliott also writes positively of ads for Oreo, Taco Bell, Tide and Toyota.

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