Anyone who watched the Super Bowl might be forgiven if they forgot what decade it was. It wasn’t because the play on the field was a throwback (the game was an exciting shoot out) but the ads had a conservative bend to them.

“The commercials that CBS broadcast nationally during the game were, by and large, disappointing. 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,” says Stuart Elliott. “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.”

There was a Century 21 ad that made a a mother-in-law joke, a Wonderful pistachios ad with a chorus line and ads for Axe Apollo, E*Trade, the Kia Sorento and Lincoln, which features images of astronauts. There were also tired tropes of anthropomorphic animals for spots of, Doritos and Skechers and dopey men in a spot for Kia Forte.

Also, while it wasn’t old fashioned at all, the GoDaddy ad where a computer nerd made out with Bar Refaeli was one of the most uncomfortable ads to watch ever.

“Fortunately, all was not dross,” notes Elliott. “There were some enjoyable and effective commercials mixed among the clunkers, particularly those that sought to be timely by including in their plots New Orleans, the site of Super Bowl XLVII, or references to the contenders, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.”

Bud Light had a commercial featuring Stevie Wonder, focusing on the superstition theme the company had been trading on all season, with a nice shout out to the voodoo of New Orleans. Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch’s flagship brand in Budweiser had a sappy but effective ad about a Clydesdale and a trainer.

“The plot of a commercial for the new Mercedes-Benz CLA echoed everything from Faust to Damn Yankees. And a dream sequence echoed a 2012 Super Bowl spot for Kia,” writes Elliott. “Still, the commercial was infinitely better than an overheated teaser spot that promoted it. It also had a nice New Orleans atmosphere, Willem Dafoe as Lucifer, clever cameo appearances by Condé Nast magazines like GQ, and a punch line centered on a selling point, the car’s sticker price.”

There were two sweet ads for treats, with M&M’s character Red singing “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and a clever Oreo spot that had people arguing softly in a library over preferring the cookie or cream (with a call to engagement on Instagram for users to voice their opinions).

“A delightful commercial for Tide, sold by Procter & Gamble, told a fanciful tale of a ‘miracle stain’ on a 49ers fan’s jersey that resembled the team’s former star quarterback, Joe Montana,” adds Elliot. “The sendup of media hype was knowing, and the surprising punch line was perfect.”

Source: New York Times