Our very own Katie Wilson gives her take on this year’s Super Bowl commercial highlights.

Every Super Bowl Sunday, millions of Americans turn on their TVs to watch two things: football and commercials.

Normally, we are not excited about hearing from companies hocking goods, making us feel bad about ourselves, etc. when watching anything on television. But on this day, the commercials are something we actually all pay attention and look forward to. This is your moment marketers – the one time of the year your ads are guaranteed to have our attention. You pay enough for it, so it’s important to put your best foot forward.

There was a plethora of ads that grabbed my attention this year and I will break them down by highlighting the trending themes that broke through this year.

We’re Woke:

Our highly politically-charged environment shaped many of the ads this year. Brands wanted to ensure consumers and potential loyals understood they were aware of many of the issues currently dividing the country; race, sexual orientation, gender bias, etc.  One such ad from Coca Cola tried to convey this message. In an interview with Adweek, Brynn Bardacke, Coca-Cola’s VP of content and creative excellence, said the ad was meant to acknowledge and celebrate everyone, which meant being as inclusive as possible.

“For this particular message, it is a strategic choice for us. It’s such a big audience and we want to celebrate the diversity of that audience,” he said.

On the other hand you have the Dodge RAM commercial which struck a nerve with many folks. To the company’s credit, they did have permission from the King estate to use his speech. However, for many, the ad and the following explanation for using it rang false.

“In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ram truck owners also believe in a life of serving others. They serve because they’re driven by a higher calling. They serve because they feel a shared responsibility and commitment to their family and community. They serve because they’re men and women of their word. They serve because they know the world could use a little more kindness.”

Oldies, but Goodies:

Nostalgia advertising always plays well. The NFL did an excellent job this year with their “Touchdowns To Come” ad, using two players on the opposite ends of the normalcy spectrum. We were all still pretending to be Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes long after this ad went off. Most importantly, we got it…they’ll be back. PepsiCo also played off this. I think they gave up the “We’re Woke” trend post “Kendall-gate”.

They played on longevity with their “Celebrating Every Generation” ad, bringing back favorites like Cindy Crawford, Brittany Spears and Michael Jackson. They reminded us of the true icons of pop.

Jeep also did a good job with this by bringing back the T-Rex and Jeff Goldblum in a Jurassic Park throwback. This time, the Jeep won.

Pure Fun:

Some marketers just get it; we really just want to laugh. Who achieved this year? Well, Tide, for one, with their “It’s a Tide Ad” campaign. Their choice of David Harbour as the lead was genius, in addition to the recurring themes throughout the night. Doritos and Mountain Dew, both PepsiCo brands had one of the funniest as well; pitting fellow Shakespearean actors Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman in an extraordinary lip-sync battle. It did an excellent job of linking the brand identities.

All in all, there were both good and bad, but the winner for me is Travel Australia’s “Dundee” ad. Look, you could put Chris Hemsworth in just about anything and I will pay attention, but the addition of Danny McBride as the Crocodile Dundee heir added just the right amount of comedy. It took a little bit to realize this wasn’t a movie trailer and I learned I would probably face my fear of flying over the ocean just to visit…and drink wine…a LOT of wine.