super bowl recap: female empowerment, sad robots, and heartwarming tech ads

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The 2019 Super Bowl was, as one tweeter put, “a non-event.” The game itself wasn’t that interesting, and the halftime show was not as show-stopping as we hoped it would be. But where the Super Bowl lacked in nail-biting excitement, it made up for in ads.

This year’s Super Bowl ads had a few trends — most notably female empowerment, sad robots (we didn’t see that one coming), and inspiration, specifically using technology to create a better world.

Strong Women

Big-name brands moved away from the masculine-themed commercials this year, instead hiring strong women to star in their spots. Almost half of the NFL’s audience are women, but in past years, advertisements have been mostly geared towards men. This year, the amount of female stars in Super Bowl ads has doubled since last year. These ads included female athletes and celebrities alike who starred in funny and inspiring commercials.

Serena Williams starred in an ad for Bumble, a dating app where women make the first move. Avocados from Mexico chose Kristin Chenoweth as their first ever female star, and Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in Olay’s horror-themed commercial, a Scream spoof with the hashtag #KillerSkin. Sarah Jessica Parker and Zoe Kravitz even starred in beer commercials, with Parker reprising her role as Carrie Bradshaw and trading her signature Cosmopolitan for a Stella Artois. This cultural shift was a refreshing change from hyper-sexualized commercials, and brands choosing to progress with society is a move that will most certainly pay off.

Sad Robots

Artificial intelligence is slowly making its way into our everyday lives, whether we prefer Alexa, Siri, or Google. Many still have fears of this technology, and brands capitalized on this to make robots more “Wall-E” and less “Megatron.” The robot in the Pringles spot was dull and joyless because they cannot taste Pringles (or any food, for that matter). Amazon poked fun at themselves while showing that they understand the limits of artificial intelligence with a commercial that highlighted the items that should not be Alexa-equipped (like a dog collar and a hot tub). We certainly haven’t seen the last of brands using artificial intelligence to show the joys of, well, not being a robot, and displaying robots as non-threatening.

Heartwarming Tech

We may be biased here, but inspiring ads that pulled at our heartstrings stole the show. Google aired two ads with very different messages but similar themes. Their first ad, “One Hundred Billion Words,” demonstrated how we use Google Translate to communicate on a global scale. The ad promoted the human side of Google’s all-powerful technology and showed that even though hate is present between cultures, love prevails.

Google’s second ad, Job Search for Veterans was narrated by John Krasinski, a recognizable voice from his long-standing role as Jim Halpert on The Office as well as his current role as Veteran Jack Ryan. This advertisement promoted a fairly new Google search feature that allows Veterans to find employment related to their military experience. Fitting in with the theme, Microsoft created a moving XBox adaptive controller ad. It tells the story of kids who may look different than their peers but share a love of video games, ending with a powerful tagline, “When everyone plays, we all win.” The Microsoft ad was one of the most inspiring of the night, because it shows the important role that technology can play in creating a world that’s more accessible to all.

The Votes are In! And the Winner is…

It’s not easy to tell a complete story in 30 seconds or one minute, but this year’s Super Bowl ads showed that storytelling is the best way to make a lasting impression on viewers. And here at The Cause Collaborative, we’re total suckers for mission-driven storytelling. We wanted to see what our followers thought about the Super Bowl ads, so we created a bracket and invited our followers to vote on which ads inspired them most. Out of the eight most inspiring ads, in first place was Microsoft’s “We All Win,” with Google’s “One Hundred Billion Words” close behind. These ads were also our favorites, so we were thrilled to see that our followers agreed!

This year’s Super Bowl advertisements were historical in that they included more women than ever before. Many of last year’s Super Bowl ads were focused on humor and altruism, with Tide’s “Every Ad is a Tide Ad” series stealing the show. This ploy led to increased brand resonance and buzz. It may be too early to tell the effects that this year’s Super Bowl ads have had on brands, but one thing is for sure: brands are ditching the advertising ploys of old and choosing to inspire in order to stand out.

Have a different opinion on what ads stole the show? Leave us a comment below!