As the Super Bowl commercials this year have taken a complete left turn the folks at FiveThirtyEight.com took a look at a bunch of Super Bowl commercials this century – 233 commercials in all – and tried to figure out what was going on. The conclusion? Americans love America. And animals. And sex.
For sure, plenty of commercials they looked at were funny...or tried to be funny. Some featured a celebrity. But mostly, the ads were patriotic, featured animals – and used sex to sell the product. As they reviewed all these ads editors considered these questions:
- Was it trying to be funny? Did it show the product right away?
- Was it patriotic? Did it feature a celebrity?
- Did it Involve danger? Did it include animals?
- Did it use sex to sell its product?
Among the editors’ notable observations:
- Category – “Politics + Celebrity”: Politics has been well-woven in over the years. Bob Dylan’s music “over images of soldiers reuniting with their families” gets a yay...but Carlos Mencia giving immigrants pointers on flirting with “American” women? Yikes.
- Category – “Trying to Be Funny + Sell With Sex + … Animals”: This wasn’t so much about one thing...as opposed to the way companies tried to blend things. Someone called out as the creepiest? Bud Light. Ads showing a talking chimp hitting on a woman, or a falcon bringing back a woman’s bra to its handler...after terrorizing people while searching for beer. “The only thing more unsettling,” they write. “Is realizing a whole boardroom approved these concepts for what was a likely multimillion-dollar ad spot.”
The top commercials are:
#5 from Super Bowl: 47 (Feb. 3, 2013) Budweiser Brotherhood
#4 from Super Bowl:44 (Feb. 7, 2010) Old Spice Smell The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
#3 from Super Bowl: 53 (Feb. 3, 2019) NFL 100 Year Game
#2 from Super Bowl:27 (Jan. 31, 1993) McDonalds Jordan Vs Bird
#1 from Super Bowl: 14 (Jan. 20, 1980) Coca Cola Mean Joe Greene