Super Bowl Commercials Go for Heart, Not Just Funny Bone and Jugular

The game plan for the advertising blitz during Super Bowl XLIX was simple: Go straight for the heart.

Many of the commercials during NBC’s national broadcast of Sunday’s game sought to tug at viewers’ heart strings rather than make them burst out laughing. The offerings were not devoid of the usual mix of celebrities, animals and slapstick comedy, but ads celebrating fatherhood, happiness over hatred and public proclamations of love dominated.

“Finally, a more serious Super Bowl with a high dose of humanity on display,” said Adam Tucker, president of WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather advertising in New York.

A number of advertisers essentially rebranded Super Bowl Sunday into another celebration of Father’s Day. A spot for Unilever’s Dove Men + Care depicted a series of children, from toddlers to adults, calling out “Dad” and “Daddy” from a highchair, monkey bars and the dance floor at a wedding reception. “What makes a man stronger?” the ad asked. “Showing that he cares.” Ads for the automakers Nissan and Toyota also lauded fatherhood.

Mothers were not left out. A commercial for McDonald’s opened with a cashier telling a customer that instead of handing over money for his hash browns and coffee, he could pay by calling his mother and telling her he loved her. The spot kicked off a promotion at the fast-food chain, which will randomly select customers to “Pay With Lovin’ ” rather than cash or credit starting Monday through Valentine’s Day.

A commercial for Coca-Cola sought to transform online hate into Internet happiness. The 60-second spot featured a montage of ugly online comments magically transformed into positive missives after a technician accidentally spills a bottle of Coke onto an Internet server. At one point, a middle schoolboy’s face lights up after watching a social media post change from saying, “No one Likes U,” into a message reading, “There’s no one like U.”

A Budweiser ad featured a touching story about friendship, with the Clydesdale horses helping rescue a lost puppy and return it to its home. It was posted online in the days before the game, drawing more than 42 million online views before kickoff, the most of any Super Bowl advertiser, according to measurement firm

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