The Super Bowl Ads of 2014 that We Loved

Those who watch the Super Bowl for the commercials and pay attention to those things may have noticed something missing in this year’s ads. There was a pronounced absence of restaurants putting their names on and in Super Bowl commercials. Even Papa John’s, the official pizza chain sponsor of the NFL whose spokesman – Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning – was on the field Sunday evening, opted for pre-game advertising, rather than in-game spots.

According to a Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) piece from Jan. 24, early indications were that there would not be a single restaurant that ponied up for a famously expensive Super Bowl ad. With the game starting right around dinner time, eateries that wanted a piece of the game day pie did their advertising early. An editor of marketing industry publication Advertising Age told NRN most chain restaurants likely opted for pre-game and even week-before-the-game ads to get people in the door to enjoy a meal while watching the bowl. After kickoff, those folks aren’t likely to leave where they are to come to your restaurant, which means in-game advertising is about building brand recognition, something that can be done with more impact for the same money in non-Super Bowl commercials.

Still, there were some classic ads during the game. Here are some of the KaTom team’s favorites:

Budweiser Super Bowl Commercials

The beer company put out two of what we deemed the best Super Bowl ads. The first, dubbed “Salute,” featured a surprise parade the company threw for a returning U.S. Army soldier, with a small town turning out in a celebration that was “All for you,” as an American Legion member told the Florida veteran. It was a patriotic tribute that garnered unified praise.

Much-hyped and teased before the big game, the second Budweiser Super Bowl commercial of 2014 featured the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and a determined puppy. The “Best Buds” spot was rather simple and reminiscent of the company’s ad from 2010 that featured a donkey determined to join the team of draft horses. It’s hard not to have a winner when you’ve got a super-cute puppy and super-strong horses that fight for its freedom. Viewers universally raved about this Super Bowl ad, with USA Today online readers easily ranking it tops of the night, even though it came during the fourth quarter, when many people expecting a closer game had already switched off.

McDonald’s Super Bowl Commercial

The Golden Arches was one of those pre-game advertisers, perhaps in hopes people would run out for some last-minute snacks and they could unload a few million lingering pounds of Mighty Wings. The company’s marketing effort was well-timed and comical, with a mashup of the “bad lip readings” of football players that became viral gold in recent years. It continues a series of similar ads McDonald’s has put out over the last year, but was original enough to win some new laughs.

Unfortunately, the quick service chain doesn’t appear to have posted the commercial on its official YouTube channel, so we can’t share it with you here.

Coca-Cola “America the Beautiful” Commercial

If you follow social media, as we do, you likely know there was some controversy about this ad. Some people bristled at the idea of a classic American patriotism hymn being sung in multiple languages, insisting that America’s songs should be performed only in the Queen’s English. They created the hashtag #BoycottCoke, which by the end of the night appeared to have been used at least as much by people mocking the reaction as those endorsing it. Meanwhile, others applauded what they felt is the unifying message of the ad, saying it shows that, despite our differences, Americans of all backgrounds can come together to do some beautiful things. Overall, the latter opinion won out – barely – with reaction 36 percent positive and 31 percent negative, a senior manager from the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud division of Salesforce told The New York Times. We’ll let you render your own verdict.

Doritos “Cowboy Kid” Commercial

Parts of this one felt a little cheesy (the footage of the kid riding the dog seems a bit disjointed), but overall it was cute enough that we notched it as one of the best Super Bowl ads of 2014. It deserves it perhaps for no other reason than that We have to give it props, since the concept was developed by an amateur who entered Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” contest and won. That meant a small-town voice teacher got a phone call from Stan Lee, got to sit in a luxury box at the Super Bowl, and won $1 million. We love that combination of nice things for a regular person.

Cheerios “Gracie” Commercial

This Super Bowl ad features a father using Cheerios as an adding tool to explain to an adorable little girl that she’s getting a baby brother. The curly-headed cutie interprets the situation more as a negotiation, pushing another O into the mix and telling the father that, in addition to a new baby, the family is also getting a puppy. The father quickly agrees, netting him a surprised look from the mother.

A Kinder, Gentler Year in Super Bowl Commercials

In the end, whether pushing Big Macs or big morals, the 2014 crop of Super Bowl ads was overall a more mature bunch than those of days gone by. Also changed was, as NRN correctly predicted, the number of spots run by restaurant chains. Some bought into pre-game time, whether that meant KFC’s extreme sports commercial that started as a viral video online or Subway’s sponsorship of ESPN Radio for the week before the big game. Still, it appears actual-in game Super Bowl ads for eateries may be a thing of the past, though big-name food and drink brands like Coca-Cola and General Mills will likely continue to put their names on innovative spots.

Derek Hodges
Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges is a proud North Carolinian who moved to Tennessee in 2006 to preach the gospel of Cheerwine and mix some Tar Heel blue in with all the orange. He has made wonderful friends who tolerate occasional remarks like those above. He and his wife Amanda enjoy spending weekends at Dollywood and trying to convince their dog Shiloh to get over his fear of swimming.

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