For the past 2 years, the star of the Super Bowl wasn’t a quarterback or defensive end, it was you. Sadly, it looks like the trend of Super Bowl ads that showcase dads as competent, capable adults who keep toddlers from cracking their heads open and are there for their distraught teenage daughters has come to an end.
That trend began 2 years ago, when Hyundai earned the consensus pick for best Super Bowl ad with a 30-second spot that was a virtual highlight reel of fathers saving their kids from massive screw ups. The move was so widely copied by brands like Dove and BMW that Advertising Age dubbed last year’s game “The Daddy Bowl.” Hyundai’s back for 2016, but they’ve ditched the cinema vérité approach in favor of a more traditional celebrity-backed campaign. Meanwhile, based on what’s already running on YouTube, it’s safe to say Madison Avenue still wants that guy money, but has lost it’s Dad crush.
That’s not to say there are no fathers in this year’s ads, just that they’re behaving like you’d expect them to behave again — looking at you, Doritos.
“First Date” — Hyundai [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R_483zeVF8 expand=1] First, that Hyundai spot. Kevin Hart starring as a stage 5 clinger father stalking and terrifying the poor son of a bitch taking his daughter on a date lands squarely in the dad zone. Hart has been known to drop some knowledge about fatherhood, and watching him helicopter in to stop a lookout point makeout session is chuckle-worthy if not a tad cliché. Still, it loses points for not having him tell the youngster he’s gon’ learn today.
“Starman” — Audi [youtube https://youtu.be/yB8tgVqmKzw expand=1] Next up is Audi’s spot, the one that most heavily leans on the fatherly sentiment of the last 2 years, and leader in the clubhouse for best commercial of Super Bowl L. It’s got a grown son lifting the spirits of his older father who refuses to eat as he wistfully yearns for the good old days, a speeding (and gorgeous) Audi R8, rocket ships, and Bowie. Rock on forever, dad.
“Ultrasound” — Doritos [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ko7GuDOv4BM expand=1] Doritos continues their decade-long tradition of crowdsourcing their commercial, and the people have spoken: dad’s a bumbling momo again. That’s right, after 2 years of steadily improving depictions of fatherhood in advertising, this “Crash The Super Bowl” finalist has you back to being a scruffy dingleberry with a gut, crushing snack chips in the ultrasound room. Don’t worry, you should regain respectability by the time the Lions get to one of these games.
“Find Your Magic” — Axe
[youtube https://youtu.be/WzTSE6kcLwY expand=1] None of the 20 or so guys Axe crams into its 60-second spot appear to be dads, but the long-time body spray/Jersey Shore punchline actually comes through with a surprisingly strong, inspiring take on the new, ever-changing definition of masculinity. Still, they were so close. “Who needs a 6-pack when you’ve got the nose?” Come on, guys, that’s a DadBod joke layup!
“Super Bowl Babies Choir” — NFL
[youtube https://youtu.be/9KqekigARfE expand=1] Did you celebrate your team winning the big one by making a kid? If so, you might spot them in this outdated but still pretty clever song parody spot. If you also spot yourself, congratulations — you and your dad have the same touchdown dance. It doesn’t so much elevate a new definition of fatherhood as it reinforces dad’s super important job of forcing Junior to root for the right teams (that’d be dad’s teams).
“#Pokémon20” — Pokémon
[youtube https://youtu.be/2F46tGehnfo expand=1] Uh … there’s a dad in it for 2 seconds at the very end who appears to be attentive, loving, and encouraging to his aspiring Pokemaster kid? Yeah, it’s hail mary time at this point.
“Puppymonkeybaby” — Mountain Dew
[youtube https://youtu.be/ql7uY36-LwA expand=1] The Dew is back! EXTREME! After a 16-year absence from the big game, they appear ready to deliver an image and refrain that’ll be stuck in your head for the next 16 with an ad for their new drink, Kickstart. If only this creature’s father was sitting on that couch instead of 3 schlubby looking friends — aw, screw it. Puppymonkeybaby, puppymonkeybaby, puppymonkeybaby …