Super Bowl 50: Super Boring From Start to Finish

Two friends bored over bottles of beer and nachos

There are those who watch the Super Bowl for the game, those who watch for the halftime show, and those that tune in expressly for the ads. If you were any of those people watching #SB50, chances are you left feeling underwhelmed.

The game fizzled to an end, when even the celebratory Broncos Gatorade dump felt half-hearted. An unsurprised Peyton Manning claimed he’d be kicking back with “a lot of Budweiser”—an allegedly unpaid mention valued at a whopping $14M.

Looking for a beacon in a sea of banalities, many claimed Beyonce herself was the clear winner of the Super Bowl, and she probably was since she seems to lose at precisely nothing. I’m not sure we needed yet another performance from her and Bruno Mars, though. Apparently, Coldplay was there, too, but who could really tell?

As for advertising, Budweiser tried to sell to the manliest of men; the NFL attempted to summarize domestic violence in an empty text bubble, while also celebrating the conception of “Super Bowl babies” in winning cities; Axe Body Spray is no longer for confused 17-year-old boys; and everybody else kind of fell through the cracks. That is, except for Avocados, specifically From Mexico, which made the best Super Bowl commercial of the night (despite showing the lesser, shortened version live). Yes, avocados. Go figure.

The story on social media reflects this mass yawn. Facebook posts were down 20% from last year, and tweets down 30%. From a social media perspective, nearly every brand gets an “F” for tacking forgettable hashtags at the end of every spot, except for Squarespace. They awesomely hired Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” to don sportscaster alter egos and live tweet the game without official sanctioning.

So, looking to next year, here are five quick tips for turning things around.

1. Social media is too important to slap a hasthag on the last frame of the commercial and expect the masses to react. Have a specific call to action people will remember.

2. If you’re going to do a PSA, make sure it’s emotional and, furthermore, researched. At the AMA’s AdBowl last night (on which I was a panelist), a fellow content maker shared an interesting insight: If you’re a victim of abuse, you’d likely not use your phone to text about Jake being “in one of his moods” since “Jake” would potentially be monitoring your phone. Dark, I know, but then so is domestic violence.

3. The use of CGI often feels lazy these days. The Avocados spot was free and clear of this and felt stylish because of it. The Heinz spot, although obviously adorable, felt more disposable once it was clear there weren’t actually 200 wiener dogs bounding their way toward humans in Heinz costumes.

4. Music is so important. It’s the only reason there’s a “love” component to my love-hate relationship with the Bud ad.

5. Use the old journalism adage: Show, don’t tell. Stop telling people what you’re not. It feels insecure and oddly self-aware. Instead, show people who you are. The Axe spot, though it marked a total 180-degree turn for the brand, did this well. With a Millennial audience, social inclusiveness is always best.

Super Bowl 51, you better bring it.

By Jen Boyles | Content Strategy Director | @Jen_Boyles