Humor has always had a big part to play in Super Bowl advertising, and the last few years have seen the most emotional ads shift between commercials to make you laugh, and commercials that bring a happy tear to your eye.
Laughs and sentiment are both great routes to strong emotional ads, and both approaches are on show tonight. But one brand has sat this Super Bowl out: Doritos, whose 30-second comedy skits have been a reliable highlight for the last several years. They went out on a high – “Dogs” topped our list of Super Bowl ads in 2016. Can any brand tonight take Doritos’ crown? A Media Week poll before the game suggested that humor was the number one thing viewers were looking forward to – could brands deliver?
The first quarter saw a few brands step up and try. Aflac Insurance were first up, with an ad starring their distinctive goose mascot, but alas it laid something of an egg, landing with a relatively poor 2-star score as its dark comedy missed the mark.
But far better was to come.Super Bowl veterans Wonderful Pistachios put an elephant on a treadmill to get a 4-Star score with a 15 second ad – it’s unusual and impressive for such a short commercial to do so well.
The first 5-Star emotional winner of 2017 went to Skittles, though, whose “Romance” ad used the 30-second format perfectly. A vital but discreet role for the brand, and a hilarious series of twists added up to a Super Bowl winner. Congratulations Mars and Skittles! But there are plenty more ads to come, and we’re sure there will be more 5-Star winners among them.