Super Bowl Ad Recap: I Love the 90s

It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Super Bowl ads were the prime reason why many people watched the Big Game. They included surprise celebrity cameos, nonsensical, repeatable taglines, and to put simply, they were a lot more fun.

That’s not the current state of mind for most marketers. Advertisers are now airing their commercials early and delivering ones that fall short on humor and intrigue. There’s more of a focus on the quick attention grab and even quicker investment return. However, this fleeting ideal falls flat, at least for a game that used to bank on its TV ratings. It’s been reported that Sunday’s football matchup had the lowest Super Bowl ratings since 2009. There’s evidence that points to the recent years of viewership decline so this doesn’t come as a shock.

The commercials are another story. The millions of dollars just to hold a Super Bowl ad slot could be better used for more interesting, more long-lasting story angles. While many big brands aimed to provide a more impactful message, many focused on change, the underlying theme portrayed is: people miss the good ol’ days (of the late 90s).

Doritos Features Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys

One of America’s favorite boy bands appeared to “remix” what’s arguably one of the best boy band songs of all time with Chance the Rapper to illustrate a “hot” take on the Original Doritos. As history has taught us time and time again, you just don’t mess with classics. That goes with songs and snack food. We deserve better from both.

Carrie Bradshaw and the Dude Sync Up for Stella Artois

When Sex and the City hit the screen in the late 90s, it affected the way women dressed, spoke, and dated. Front and center was its leader, Carrie Bradshaw, who single-handedly made Cosmopolitans an en vogue drink. To hear her order a Stella Artois as a “change up to the usual” actually evoked the exact opposite feelings. A SATC marathon drinking nothing but Cosmopolitans sounds like a far grander time than Stella Artois and the Super Bowl.

It only added injury to insult to hear another iconic 90’s character switch from his drink of choice to what is presented as a classy beer. The best part of the commercial was hearing Jeff Bridges as the Dude order a “Stella Ar-tose,” a nod to the fact he is not comfortable with this type of change.

Cardi B for Pepsi

Pepsi has always been known for its celebrity-endorsed campaigns. It’s not surprising they’ve pulled one of the most talked about pop culture figures into their ad campaign. Although another spin off her “I Like It Like That” hit would seem less desperate than a reaching tie-in to her “okurrrr” tag. Plus, Steve Carell and Lil’ Jon? What is happening in this commercial?

Serena Continues Control with Bumble Ad

Of all the commercials watched before it got too painful, Serena Williams served up her Bumble spot like the pro she is. It made sense for her story, image, and branding. She truly does already have the power because Bumble fit their concept around her not the other way around, which is why it worked.

This sampling of Super Bowl ads elicits a cringing plea from consumers: try harder. These successful brands had to reach into more entertaining times from two decades ago. It shows they aren’t sure how to reach their multi-generational audiences anymore. It’s not an easy feat to capture the interest of millions of viewers, but in a blip of time, the moment is over and so is the investment.

In the 90s, Super Bowl commercials would be talked about for days, some remembered for years. Sadly, for Super Bowl LIII, most have already been forgotten.

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