The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 2, 2014

Light humor, emotional ads rule Super Bowl

NEW YORK — Advertisers played it safe in Super Bowl ads this year.

There were no crude jokes. Sexual innuendo was kept to a minimum. And uncomfortable scenes were missing.

In their place, much more sedate ads. RadioShack poked fun at its image by starring 80s icons like Teen Wolf in its ad, for instance, while Coca-Cola showcased people of different diversities in its spot.

With a 30-second Super Bowl commercial fetching $4 million and more than 108 million viewers expected to tune in to the championship game this year, it was crucial for advertisers to make their investment count.

But the shocking ads in previous years have not always been well received (Think: GoDaddy.com's ad that featured a long, up-close kiss was at the bottom of the most popular ad lists last year.) So this year, advertisers went out of their way to use more family friendly themes: socially conscious statements, patriotic messages and light humor.

"Advertisers are getting attention but they're not trying to go over the top," said David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer for digital ad agency MRY. "A lot of brands were going with the safety from the start."

Viewers had a mixed reaction to the ads. Keith Harris, who was watching the Super Bowl with friends and family in Raleigh, N.C., said he appreciated the safer ads. "The ads are less funny, but it's easier to watch the Super Bowl with your family," he said.

But Paul Capelli, who lives in West Chester, Pa., found most ads to be dull: "The best spots were like a Payton Manning-to-Wes Welker pass play — they were there, but too few and those that connected left you wanting something a bit more spectacular."

CONNECTING WITH A CAUSE

Many advertisers played it safe by promoting a cause or focusing on sentimental issues.

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