NEW YORK – Advertisers played it safe in Super Bowl ads this year.
There were no crude jokes. Sexual innuendo was kept to a minimum. And uncomfortable storylines were all but missing. In their place were much more sedate ads.
From the light humor of RadioShack poking fun at its image with 1980s icons such as Teen Wolf and the California raisins to a Coca-Cola ad showcasing diversity by singing America the Beautiful in different languages, it was a softer night of advertising.
Advertisers are getting attention, but they’re not trying to go over the top, said David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer for digital ad agency MRY. A lot of brands were going with the safety from the start.
Barbara Lippert, ad critic for Mediapost.com, said the ads were an attempt by companies to connect with viewers on a more personal level.
We want to be able to feel through all these screens and through all the hype there’s a human element and in the end we’re all human, she said.
Chevrolet’s ad showed a couple driving through the desert in remembrance of World Cancer Day. Bank of America turned its ad into a virtual video for U2’s new single Invisible to raise money for an AIDS charity.
A Microsoft ad focused on how its technology helps people. The ad is narrated by Steve Gleason, a former pro football player with ALS. He uses a Surface Pro running Tobii’s eye gazer technology to speak.
An Anheuser-Busch Hero’s Welcome ad showed how Anheuser-Busch helped prepare a big celebration that included a parade with Clydesdales as a surprise for a soldier returning from Afghanistan.
Chrysler debuted a 2-minute ad starring Bob Dylan, who discusses the virtues of having cars built in Detroit, the theme that it used with in previous ads with Eminem and Clint Eastwood.
Let Germany brew your beer. Let Asia assemble your phone. We will build your car, Dylan says in the ad.
There were mini-sitcom reunions: In an ad for Danon Oikos, the Full House cast reunited. And Jerry, George and Newman came back to Tom’s diner in New York City for an ad for Jerry Seinfield’s show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Comedian Stephen Colbert appeared in a pair of 15-second ads for Wonderful Pistachios. In one he predicted the nuts would sell themselves because I’m wonderful, they’re wonderful. He was back a few seconds later covered in bright green branded messages because the nuts hadn’t sold out in 30 seconds.