Monday Morning Quarterback: The COHN team weighs in

February 2, 2015

No doubt, some Super Bowl fans are in it for the football, while others are along for the commercial ride. With over 200 million viewers and 4.5 million spent per 30 second spots, some advertisers do better than others making the most of their spend. Here’s what the COHN team thought…

I noticed a real return to values messaging almost across the board. Gone were the Bud Light stupid for stupid sake, Go Daddy sex exploitations, etc. This year was all about values and marks a shift in society. The Always “Run like a girl” ad, The Dodge seniors ad, all of the “Dad” ads from companies like Dove and Nissan, even the Bud lost dog. They touched our inner values and sometimes didn’t even show the product. Interesting thing to note. Are we moving to a different way of thinking in the U.S.? Are we shifting? What does it all mean? I also thought there was more brand orientation in the ads, less product. Many of the feel good values driven ads hardly mention the product, but definitely focus on a brand message. To me, the ads were much better than in recent years. It was a welcome return to watchable commercials. In addition to those already mentioned, here are a few I really liked for the sheer smile they gave me. 1) The BMW ad with Katie and Bryant trying to figure out what the internet is, and fast forwarding to electric cars. 2) The Snickers ad with the Brady Bunch. Because who doesn’t love seeing Mike and Carol? 3) The Doritos middle seat ad was very clever.
Jeff Cohn, President

I thought it was very interesting to be watching with other adults — and kids. A lot of the ads were lost on the kids (none of the kids had any idea who the Bradys were), which is fine because some of the ads didn’t have kids as their target audiences (e.g. Jeff Bridges and Square Space). However, we all laughed at the Dorito’s ad — and the kids LOVED the Budweiser puppy ad (although they clearly aren’t the target audience there either). We were with Packer, Bronco, and Dallas fans, so last night the big game was all about the commercials!
Anne Wright, Senior Account Director

Overall, the ads were too serious this year. So many advertisers went for the “heart” that it reduced the impact of each one. The humorous commercials – Doritos, Fiat – definitely won the day. Sadly, I don’t think there were any “break out” ads this year that will produce long-term campaign icons (think: the eTrade baby or the Budweiser frogs). Also, Nationwide needs a new ad team; that was too much.
Lauren Simpson, Senior Strategist: PR & Social Media

The Liam Neeson “Clash of Clans” commercial was fantastic (costed them $9 million!). I noticed a few mobile gaming commercials. Let’s not forget Kate Upton’s Game of War commercials…WOW. Here’s an interesting fact: “Gaming on smartphones and tablets generated around $25 billion in revenues last year, and Clash of Clans was the top-grossing app on both iOS and Android in 2014.” Doritos had the funniest commercials in my opinion. It was interesting that 80% of the commercials had big-name actors in them.
Jesse Pixler, Associate Creative Director

Definitely a more touchy-feely commercial-fest. Bud puppy – how can you go wrong with that? I’d say the Fiat/Viagra commercial ranked high – good production value and a clever way to show a souped-up product. Marshawn Lynch for Progressive was pretty timely and funny. I was really impressed with the digital stage @ halftime – that was very cool tech used in a great way.
Chris Thomas, Associate Creative Director

I loved seeing WALT from Breaking Bad though the commercial itself was a bit convoluted.  Loved the “Run Like a Girl” ad.  Everyone in the room was silent and of course, we had a few criers.  I agree lots of famous people featured and lots more sentimental messages.
Kim Cronin, Senior Account Director

I am a sucker for the Bud Light UpForWhatever campaign (because I want it to happen to me at some point) and after they made it into a giant party with a life-sized Pacman game… they had me.
Jeffrey Steffonich, Senior Designer


Completely agree that this year was all about the good “feels” and morals. I think the McDonald’s commercial was great too, ‘Pay with Love’. I thought it was interesting that Mercedes went against the grain, and had the tortoise cheat to win the race. But I suppose it was appropriate considering the Deflateriots also won the Super Bowl.
Steven Busch, Production Artist

It was interesting to watch with my kids who are 12, 11 and 8. My son, the oldest said – “Why can’t commercials have this type of quality all the time?” His favorite by far was Doritos. He laughed and said he could completely picture that happening in real life. As I am laughing at the Fiat commercial, which I felt was clever and creative my 11-year old daughter was insistent on asking, “what does the ‘little blue pill’ do?” Overall I agree the ads were a step up this year, as was the game! One of my favorites was the McDonald’s commercial. It was a feel-good that actually encouraged customers to go in through February 14 to see if they might be one of the lucky ones to be randomly picked. My youngest said, “I could totally dance for food!”
Robin Lybarger, Vice President: PR & Social Media

I always find it interesting to watch the reactions of those around me. Overall, the girls oohed and ahhed over the puppies, while the guys complained about everything being “sooo serious!” I was in complete agreement with my buddies as we continued to discuss the First Bank spots from TDA Boulder, dissing the old school ATM and promoting Person to Person transfers. While this new service isn’t groundbreaking, (we’re Venmo kids through and through,) it gave the girls and guys what they wanted—cute puppies with a (somewhat) funny punchline.  The best part about it? Everyone recalled who the ad was for and what new service it was promoting.
Leigh Ann Peterson, Account Executive

I too loved the Fiat Blue Pill commercial. I liked the storytelling aspect, it made the whole room stop and watch (hard to do with an active 1 1/2-year-old running around). Overall, I like the emotional aspect that seemed to be the common theme in ads this year. I have to ask though, do you think some of them were a bit of a buzzkill for a super bowl slot?
Tara Jayson, Graphic Designer & Production Manager

My husband called me this morning from McDconalds to tell me he loved me and everyone in McDonalds cheered!!  I was tinkling during that commercial last night so i had no idea what the heck was going on but loved getting that call, and I’m sure my husband loved getting a free breakfast. 🙂
Teri Springer, Senior Art Director 


Coca-Cola lives and breathes their “Spread Happiness” message and their Superbowl spot was no exception. This year Coke tackled the social issue of cyberbullying with an online extension using the hashtag #MakeItHappy. Coke encouraged Superbowl viewers to respond to negative tweets using the hashtag and achieved a national Twitter trend complete with a landing page to track their results, pretty cool.
Samantha Drake, Digital Strategist


I have to share a little story… The #runlikeagirl campaign for Always has been around for a bit, so I’ve certainly seen it and love it—  but I had the joy of being in a room with a few mom friends who had not yet seen it. One friend in particular (the host of the party) is a GoRucker, runner, boot camper, surfer chick… an ultra-competitive athlete. This lady is “tough” in a good sense, but she’s not known for showing a ton of emotion. She also a mom to 7-year-old twin girls. One of the more compelling parts of the ad is THAT moment – the discernable shift that occurs midway through the spot when you realize what they really mean by “run like a girl”. To watch my friend’s face react to that moment was one of the coolest parts of the night for me. She welled up— and suddenly found an excuse to “clear a few plates”.  Advertising can be a powerful tool.
Karen Johnson, Senior Account Director


What We Read This Week – January 30, 2015