5 Ad Themes for Super Bowl XLIX

The big game is this Sunday, and that means the most expensive ads on TV are also being released. Like always, we’re seeing a lot of ads slated for the Super Bowl being revealed already.

Let’s take a look at this year’s commercial trends through the ads we are already seeing.

The Celebrity

It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without celebrity appearances–many of them. So far, we know of numerous advertisements featuring the famous, including a hilarious take by Mindy Kaling for Nationwide, a very on-brand ad by Snickers featuring Danny Trejo, and a shameless, self-promoting Kim Kardashian for T-mobile’s PSA-style spot. Brands, and their ad agencies, will keep celebrities in their playbook year after year, Super Bowl or otherwise. The reason? It works.

The Over-the-Top

Super Bowl commercials have a long history of offending women with sexist themes and subliminal—or not so subliminal—messages. Unfortunately, the trend continues into 2015, with controversy surrounding Charlotte McKinney, featured model in Carl’s Jr, “Au Natural” Super Bowl spot. One person tweeted, “setting feminism back 4 decades,” but for Carl’s Jr., the more controversy the better. The fast-food brand is reaping the benefits as the most talked about ad thus far.

The Sentimental

Look out for the sentimental, because this year brands are really hoping to make that emotional connection. Perhaps the Super Bowl isn’t the appropriate context for such appeals, but some brands would disagree: Toyota will include Paralympic athlete Amy Purdy in an inspiring spot, Budweiser will tell an emotional story of a puppy who learns the true meaning of friendship, and Dove Men+Care will run an ad intended to defy male stereotypes.

The Daddy Bowl

In addition to the Dove Men+Care example just noted, other brands are looking to connect with men this Super Bowl–and in ways that don’t include naked ladies! No, fatherhood is the trend this Super Bowl. Toyota’s “To Be A Dad” spot warms hearts with NFL players DeMarcus Ware, LaWar Arrington, Fred Jackson and Kurt Warner talking about their fathers and what it’s like to be a dad. Nissan’s #withdad advertisement takes a similar approach, featuring narratives of “life’s best moments #withdad.”

The #Hashtag

As in recent years, Advertisers are using hashtags to bring the conversation (and hype) online. According to Marketing Land, hashtags were used in 57 percent of nationally-run Super Bowl ads last year, up from 50% in 2013.

Super Bowl Ad Victoria Secret

Here are just a few:

What other themes are you seeing?

Best Holiday Advertisements of All Time

The holidays are all about spreading good cheer to the masses. They are about delighting, entertaining, and moving others. The holidays present an invaluable opportunity for brands and marketers, not just for selling, but storytelling. The holiday season is a fitting time for companies to show people their culture, values, and principles.

Here are some brands that did it right, delivering the best holiday advertisements of all time:

This John Lewis ad just might make you tear a little. It tells the story of friendship between a boy, Sam, and his penguin friend, Monty. They play together all year, but as the weather turns cold, Monty begins to feel sad, and only Sam knows the problem. Monty the penguin is looking for love.

Hershey’s uses no words in this 1989 holiday commercial. The ad is short, sweet, and so effective. It’s also Hershey’s longest running product advertisement to date. Ogilvy & Mather succeeds with this charming, whimsical and simplistic advertisement, setting it apart from the rest.

Apple’s Emmy award-winning “Misunderstood” ad spot is about a kid who is seemingly too preoccupied with his iPhone 5S to engage with his family for the holiday. Later, however, it is revealed that he is, indeed, just misunderstood. Really nicely done, Apple.

This 1996 “Faint” advertisement by M&M has endured through the years and become a beloved holiday classic. The commercial features the meeting of two iconic “mythical” creatures. It’s cute, effective, and still elicits a chuckle after all these years.

What are your favorite holiday ads of all time? Share them here!

Best Halloween Advertisements of 2014

Halloween presents a great opportunity for brands to engage and entertain and also show off their creativity. I look forward to the advertisements every Halloween, but this year only a few stand out. Here they are:

Snickers – Twisted

Snickers delivered once again this Halloween with a fun and spooky advertisement that’s consistent with its “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign—only this time, the message is, “You get scary when you’re hungry.” This is true.

IKEA – Halloween

In this ad, Ikea Singapore parodied Stanley Kubrick’s classic, The Shining, and recreated the eerie Big Wheel scene inside one of its stores to promote Ikea’s late-night shopping hours. Kudus to the ending and the clever play on words.

GEICO – It’s What You Do

Geico poked fun at horror movie characters and their predictably poor decisions in its horror movie commercial, “It’s What You Do.” The ad is relatable and humorous with a fitting tie-in that’s certainly on-brand.

Something I missed? Share what you think is the best Halloween advertisement of 2014!