Super Bowl Commercials 2017

We are finally here at the “ugly” of the 2017 Super Bowl commercials – do you already have your list is mind? The first couple were really easy for me to come up with, and the last few were late additions after some extra thought was given to the crop of ads this year.

No need for extreme measures just Switch to Sprint!

https://youtu.be/w_8ms2RzSYk

Sprint, seriously?

The best that you could come up with after spending all of that money on this spot was the idea to fake your own death to get out of your phone contract?

Seriously icky and disturbing.

And while his family watches no less? Really? Just a no, all around.

We get it. You want to give us the message that it’s hard to get out of your phone contract. But is that really the reason you should switch to Sprint? Because it’s so hard to get out of your phone contract that you need to fake your own death? That’s the best you have to offer us?

Huh.
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Now that we’ve seen our lackluster list of “good” Super Bowl commercials for 2017, let’s dive into the ones that I thought weren’t so hot. The majority of spots made it into my “mediocre” category, so it’s harder to choose “bad” and “ugly” ads this year than you might think – but I’ve buckled down and come up with a few for you!

CURE Auto Insurance 2017 Super Bowl Commercial: Don’t Follow Too Closely

https://youtu.be/HrHpVdgynAA

CURE Auto Insurance has never made an ad I’ve liked, and this year is no exception. But I find this one to be especially disturbing. The message in this spot is the idea that you shouldn’t “follow too closely” – they’re an auto insurance company, so they’re banking on a double entendre. They literally mean that you shouldn’t follow people too closely in your cars (though they’ll protect you from people that do, is the brand claim), but the metaphor in the spot is people who “follow” you too closely on social media.

However, the ad comes off as really creepy and stalker-esque. Which real-life following mishaps can cause too. Differently executed, this commercial might have been funny. But instead, it’s a bit traumatizing – for anyone who has ever been harassed online and off, cyber- or in-person stalked, this ad isn’t funny in the least. And they’re an auto insurance company, whose message also gets lost in there somewhere too. Not only is it a big miss on the messaging, it leaves me with a negative feeling about the company, which is really not something you want to achieve with your marketing.
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Gratuitous photo of me with the winningest Super Bowl QB of all time
Gratuitous photo of me with the winningest Super Bowl QB of all time

It’s that time of year again – the time when football fans mourn the end of another season with the pigskin and marketing fans rejoice because the best and brightest (usually) bring out the year’s highlights for strong ad campaigns. Also, guacamole tends to abound, and when is that ever a bad thing?

2017 was a little bit different, and definitely in a bad way. We had a little bit of a warning, because advertising was down – Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University talked about some of the reasons for it in his post “Why Super Bowl Ads Are a Tough Sell in 2017.” And it makes sense. In seven years, ad buys for the Super Bowl have at least doubled in cost (really, NFL?), and that doesn’t take into account that companies now must create an entire social campaign around their 15-60 second spots. Where they used to have to draw only on their creativity for the ad, and perhaps a fully branded campaign around it (depending on the brand), they now have to consider both the social impact and the social engagement that the spots will generate – before, during and after they air.

This year’s crop of spots also saw some big names absent too – no Doritos or Butterfingers meant that we were already lacking some traditionally funny giants right off the bat. The tense political climate of the moment had a lot of people asking whether brands would play it safe, or take risks. In some cases, it had fans misreading the intentions of brands’ ads, because of the context of the environment. Overall, it was a ho-hum crop of spots – both on the good side AND on the ugly side. While I still have a few for you in the “ugly” category for next week, I felt like I was missing both the highs and lows of previous Super Bowl ads.

But without further ado, let’s look at my top five commercials for this year, and what lawyers can learn from these spots.
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