football refereeIt’s our favorite time of year, when we get to see the best, boldest, and bravest duke it out. Oh sure, there’s the football, but we’re talking about the ads! It’s one of the busiest nights of the year for ad lawyers, enjoying ads we worked on come to life (and seeing the disclaimers we lovingly and painstakingly crafted) and responding in real time to “can we tweet this?” We blog every year about our favorites (see here and here and here and here) and trends. We were happy with a game in overtime, as it meant – that’s right – MORE ADS! And we understand social media was up over last year but did not exceed 2015’s record numbers. But still, 27.6M tweets, 240M Facebook interactions, and 150M Instagram interactions is pretty big stuff.

This was the year of the socially conscious and politically charged ads. Our favorite, hands down, was the Audi ad, focusing on the Audi initiative for equal pay. We also loved the Mr. Clean ad, loving a man who cleans. There was the immigration theme from Budweiser and 84 Lumber – the former generated a #boycottbudweiser campaign, and the latter crashed the advertiser’s website with visitors looking to watch the version that did not make it through clearance. And an eco-friendly ad from Kia (Randy’s 2017 favorite). And ads addressing the travel ban from Airbnb, purchased, we understand, at the last minute. Coke set aside polar bears to rerun a 2014 ad with a rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung in different languages. Even the NFL got into the action, with its focus on the power of football to bring people together “inside these lines.” And It’s a 10 Hair Care got personal, taking a direct shot at President Trump’s hair.

More traditional fodder also had lots of big-wattage stars, such as Jason Statham and Gal Gadot in a Wix.com ad, which we understand was also the ad with top social postings; Peter Fonda with an Easy Rider-inspired Mercedes ad (with the Coen brothers’ first Super Bowl ad!), man of the hour Tom Brady for Intel; and tons of celebs, including Tina Fey and Steve Carell appearing in Honda’s Yearbooks ad. We did see fewer laugh-out-loud ads and kooky buzzy characters, perhaps mirroring the nation’s more pensive mood.

Amy’s favorite ad: Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake for Bai, with Walken quoting from N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye”, because, regardless of your politics or views on whether the Super Bowl should or should not remain a neutral place, we can all get behind satire of quality 90’s Boy Band music, right?