All The Buzz: Super Bowl Ads Leave Viewers Talking

The splashy and celebrity-filled spots were attention-grabbing, but did some go too far?

A day after the big game, many football fans in Vermont were still talking about the dramatic finish to Super Bowl LI, as well as the famous commercials in the broadcast.

At Tavern II in South Burlington, customer Austyn Smith said he was glued to the game to root on his hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons.

Smith said even though the Falcons fell short, he thought it was a great football game. He was less impressed with the commercials, though.

“I think they were a little lacking this time, compared to usual,” Smith told necn.

To New England Patriots fan Chris Furlani, the celebrity factor of many commercials was what he needed in the first half of the game, which saw a dismal showing by the Patriots, just to have something to smile about.

“You get a lot more cameos from people you don’t normally see in a standard commercial, which is kind of nice,” Furlani said.

According to initial ratings reports, more than 111-million Americans are estimated to have watched this year’s Super Bowl, culminating with the first-ever overtime play, and a dramatic come-from-behind victory by the Patriots.

Chuck Whistler said this year’s game really had something for everyone, from action on the field to a dynamic halftime show starring Lady Gaga.

“I thought the ads were pretty good this year,” Whistler added, specifically praising spots for Tide detergent, Bai drinks, and Kia automobiles. “I like the really goofy ones.”

Elaine Young teaches digital marketing at Champlain College, and said she talked with students Monday about several standout Super Bowl ads, including one for Pennsylvania-based 84 Lumber.

“This year, several of the ads had strong political themes,” Young observed. “Controversy is pushing a lot of it.”

Only part of the 84 Lumber ad aired on TV. The company said the full version was deemed too controversial.

Online viewers would discover it showed migrants, presumably from Mexico, encountering an imposing wall erected at the border of the United States.

On social media across the country, some viewers blasted the presentation as being too sympathetic to people they see as breaking immigration laws. Opponents also argued the ad was little more than a thinly-veiled criticism of President Donald Trump’s border policy.

Other viewers praised the ad, however, calling it a sympathetic portrayal of how people from different backgrounds see the United States as a land of opportunity, and how many have good intentions when they want to enter the country.

Regardless of political views, 84 Lumber said the ad and the subsequent web traffic generated so much buzz, the company’s website crashed.

Young said that kind of engagement may be seen as positive for the company, especially if some consumers hadn’t previously heard of the brand and the exposure resonates with them.

“At a time when people are politically polarized, if brands step into the middle of that, they take risk, but potentially reach a whole new market,” Young added.

However, she warned there could be more serious implications, if too many people are turned off by an ad that wades into controversial waters, or if some begin to boycott a brand or local stores.

“What’s the impact? Is it positive, it is negative? Does it switch their brand?” Young asked of several companies that featured a bit of controversy in their Super Bowl ads this year. “The question is, if you really want to talk bottom line, over the next week, two weeks, a month — does 84 Lumber see an increase in sales?”

Back at Tavern II, several customers said some years, the ads are better than the game itself. But this year, the takeaway memory from Super Bowl 51 will definitely be that dramatic come-from-behind victory by Tom Brady and the Patriots.

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