A SuperBowl of Commercials in Review

As a life-long, die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan currently living in Boston, I felt as though I was required to watch the Super Bowl, but couldn’t really involve myself in the excitement. I watched the game with friends, cringed at the bad plays, and held in some cheers when the Patriots won; I knew my mother would be so ashamed if I actually invested myself in anything that related to the Patriots, but I knew my best friend from Massachusetts would be ashamed if I wasn’t there for her during her team’s moment to shine. Since I was in a compromising situation, I decided to really invest myself in the commercials rather than the competition.


Several of the viewers around me noted a particularly sad trend among this year’s Super Bowl commercials, also known as “sadvertising”. Tears were shed as the Lost Dog from Budweiser found his way home and discomfort spread as Nationwide attempted to prevent in-home accidents. However, I chose to focus on the numerous commercials that proved to be empowering for a wide variety of people. Not only were there advertisements that supported women and their strength, but there were also several spots that highlighted the importance of fathers. To empower is to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in claiming their rights, and I believe a number of commercials during Super Bowl 49 did exactly that. These empowering ads from several companies brought a feel good attitude to the Super Bowl 49 viewers, which is exactly what they needed during such a stressful game.

Female Empowerment

Female empowerment was promoted in two advertisements, through two very different ways, during the SuperBowl. The first commercial was Nationwide’s spot featuring Mindy Kaling, which was hilarious and infinitely better than the insurance company’s second ad. The ad subtly mentions how women, especially women of color, often feel invisible in their day to day lives. Nationwide then says that although Mindy may feel that she has been treated as if she were invisible her whole life, she is NOT, and the company promises to see everyone as a priority despite their race or gender. The second ad, which has received high praise, is the #LikeAGirl campaign by Always. It shows a series of older people act “like a girl” and then a series of younger people “act like a girl”. The contrast between the two actions is shocking, as the older participants act dainty and weak, while the younger participants use strength and passion in their actions. Both of these ads encourage women to have confidence, to use strength in their actions, and to settle for nothing, despite what societal views may reflect.


Father Empowerment

Support for fathers was a huge trend among the 2015 Super Bowl commercials and, again, two particular ads caught my attention. The first was the One Bold Choice Toyota commercial, which showed a series of clips of dads, well, being good dads. It also explains that being a dad is much more than being father and that it is a choice to get hurt, to put others’ lives before your own, and a commitment to be a bold example. The other, Real Strength by Dove Men’s Care, shows a series of clips of children, of all different ages and genders, calling out for their dads and daddies. Dove explains that 90% of men around the world say that their caring side is part of their masculinity. Both of these commercials promote that men make the choice to become fathers and that embracing their masculine side is the same as embracing their caring side. It empowers fathers to be kind, compassionate, and warm-hearted and emphasizes just how hard of a job they have.


Although these were just a few examples of the feel good advertisements from the SuperBowl, several others, especially Microsoft’s commercials for Braylon O’Neill and Estella’s Brilliant Bus, also provided an empowering tone to the event. So, despite the numerous tear-jerkers this year, its important to concentrate on the commercials that promote well-being, courage, strength, and our unique ability to impact others. Have a great day, readers!


  1. As a Giants fan myself, it was tough not to cheer for the Patriots. I think I became a Pats fan for the day :) I agree that there was an obvious trend in sadvertising–the Nationwide commercial caught everyone ofd guard. But the company had to have known what they would cause before the commercial aired. My only concern is how effective the spot was; it seemed that in the days following the Super Bowl, we were all talking about the actual commercial and not the message that it shared. I would have liked to see another version of the commercial that spread the same message but in a less dramatic way. The dad commercials made me cry like a baby–as the Super Bowl is basically a man’s favorite night, it was a great way to spread such a positive message to me watching with or without their children. I particularly admired the commercial regarding domestic violence. I think it has been out for a while, but the Super Bowl is the number one night of the year for domestic violence crimes, so it was the perfect opportunity to spread the message. I also liked it because truth be told, we can’t totally prevent domestic violence from taking place, thus it gave the sufferers of violence a way to escape the situation if necessary.

  2. Given the issues of domestic abuse and violence in the NFL this year, I wonder if that had any influence as to why these specific ads were chosen for this year’s Super Bowl. The movement towards complete gender equality is something that requires the attention and care of both men and women and by bringing this cause to the minds of so many men in the U.S. who were watching the Super Bowl is quite powerful. Beyond this, I saw a much more sentimental and family-oriented side to the overall advertising during this Super Bowl. The Nissan commercial in particular stood out for it’s clear depiction of the father-son relationship and the importance for children to have a caring and present father (http://graphics.wsj.com/superbowlads2015/0DA13F96-F36C-40B9-B78A-D36DE809A154). This commercial showed the dangerous and wild side of many male characters in commercials typically shown during Super Bowls, but balanced with a familial and loving personality shown at the end of the commercial. It’s interesting because I remember growing up mainly seeing Super Bowl commercials from Budweiser with half-naked girls and men drinking together, a far cry from the current mood of the Super Bowl commercials with men desperately waiting for their lost dog to return. I really am glad that the Super Bowl is being used to tackle tough issues of gender equality, family, and domestic violence. And I look forward to future Super Bowls to see what’s to come! Great post!

  3. Nice blog! (Isn’t it nice to draw inspo from digital marketing?) :)
    It’s always really cool to see how advertising changes from year-to-year: what the themes are, what people talk about on social media, and what people remember the longest. I didn’t watch a lot of the Superbowl or the commercials this year, but I have really enjoyed keeping up with everyones reviews on the commercials – thanks for sharing!

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