Super Bowl ads: Offbeat, upbeat messages dominate

Ads cost a record $5 million for 30 seconds, and most advertisers opted for ‘funny and creative.’

NEW YORK — From a strange creature called “Puppymonkeybaby” to a tear inducing Audi ad, Super Bowl ads ran the gamut this year from offbeat humor to heartfelt messages.

On advertising’s biggest night, Chrysler celebrated Jeep with an ad filled featuring black-and-white portraits of veterans, kids and pop icons. In Audi’s spot, a depressed aging astronaut remembers his joy for life by driving an Audi sports car with his son. And in a quirky Doritos ad, a fetus in a sonogram appears to rocket out of the womb to chase a bag of chips the mother angrily tossed away.

The goal for advertisers: to stand out and win over the 114 million-plus people watching the big game on Super Bowl Sunday. With ads costing a record $5 million for 30 seconds this year, the stakes are high to stand out from the 40-plus advertisers and be remembered.

“Super Bowl advertisers are sticking with light themes,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. “Last year we had serious ads about fathers and mortality. This year the ads are funny and creative.”

Offbeat humor reigned with a creature called “Puppymonkeybaby” – pretty much exactly what it sounds like – in an ad for Mountain Dew’s Kickstart. The ad sought to show that three great things go together, since Kickstart combines Mountain Dew, juice and caffeine.

“It’s on my list of the weirdest ad of the night, but it’s very catchy and people will be talking about it,” said Kelly O’Keefe, a marketing professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Heartfelt messages were in abundance too. SunTrust’s ad urged people to take a breath and feel better about their financial health. BMW’s Mini urged people to “defy labels.”

Most ads managed to avoid the somber tone struck last year, when an ad for Nationwide about preventable household accidents bummed out many in the audience.

There were a couple of misfires. Two pharmaceutical ads highlighted unappealing digestive conditions. One promoted an anti-diarrhea medication Xifaxan with a small-intestines mascot taking a seat at the Super Bowl. Another sought to raise awareness about “opioid-induced constipation.”

“This just isn’t a topic that people want to hear about during a Super Bowl,” said Villanova University marketing professor Charles Taylor.


Mountain Dew’s ad might have been the weirdest ad of the night, but Doritos’ ad also seemed likely to divide viewers. The spot showed a couple during a sonogram. When the mother throws away a bag of Doritos, the fetus seems to zoom after it, to the consternation of all present.

“It caught you a little off guard, but it fit the brand,” said O’Keefe.

Some Super Bowl watchers agreed. Brian Kearney, a CPA in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was watching the game with about 15 people and said the ad was a hit with his friends.

“I thought it was hysterical, we all cracked up,” Kearney said.

Other ads with offbeat humor: Bud Light featured Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen traveling around America promoting “The Bud Light Party.” A ShockTop ad showed actor T.J. Miller trading insults with the Shock Top talking orange wedge mascot. And the outdoor goods-and-clothing company Marmot showed a man palling around with an actual marmot he appears to be falling for, all to illustrate falling in love with the outdoors.


Eight years after the financial meltdown, financial companies are feeling more comfortable promoting their products and services. Six advertised in the big game, including including SunTrust Banks, PayPal, Quicken Loans, Intuit brand and Intuit’s TurboTax and Social Finance Inc.

Most promoted optimistic messages about money. TurboTax, for instance, enlisted Anthony Hopkins to get out the message that you can file your taxes for free with TurboTax. PayPal’s music-video style ad asked people to embrace “New Money.”

“We’re officially over the mourning of 2008 (financial crisis),” said Mediapost columnist Barbara Lippert.


Some advertisers created mini-movies. Toyota went long with a 90-second ad depicting bank robbers who use a Prius 4 to escape from police. LG enlisted Liam Neeson in a futuristic spot showing off LG’s new OLED 4K TV. Hyundai’s “The Chase” ad, echoed “The Revenant,” showing people escaping grizzly bears by using Hyundai’s remote start feature.

Chris Martin is the Super Bowl’s biggest loser, according to the Internet



On Sunday night, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars joined Coldplay for the Super Bowl 50 halftime show and, frankly, ruled the show

Not that we’d expect anything less from Queen Bey, a seasoned halftime show veteran herself

In fact, about 20 seconds into Beyoncé’s performance of her new song “Formation,” we momentarily forgot that Coldplay was tonight’s headliner.

Naturally, Twitter has a lot of strong feelings regarding Martin’s presence amongst Bruno and Bey:

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more…

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Lady Gaga’s acclaimed anthem attracts a strange amount of controversy



Nearly everyone liked Lady Gaga’s national anthem Sunday night — but not everyone loved her timing.

Soon after Gaga finished her performance, students of the Super Bowl began to check their watches. Many of them, as part of a long tradition, had bet on just how long the anthem would last. The over/under was initially, unofficially set at 2:20, far longer than a traditional Super Bowl performance. But Twitter being Twitter, not everyone agreed

The Internet’s unofficial referees did a play-by-play. The debate was surprisingly fierce and fiery, especially about something so seemingly inconsequential. Then ESPN’s Darren Rovell stepped in, arguing that Gaga’s first mention of the word ‘brave’ stopped the timer Read more…

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You’ll never think about domestic abuse the same way again after this Super Bowl ad



An anti-domestic violence organization is once again using a Super Bowl ad to shine a light on how bystanders can stop abuse.

Nonprofit NO MORE first partnered with the NFL in 2014 after the league came under fire for how it handled alleged cases of domestic abuse involving its players. NO MORE had its first-ever Super Bowl ad during last year’s game.

This year’s ad, which aired in a prime slot right after the halftime show, encourages everyone to look out for signs of domestic abuse in friends — and learn what you can do to stop it.

The ad features a text conversation between two friends. One invites the other to a Super Bowl party, to which she responds: “Jake is in one of his moods. I prob should not go out.” Read more…

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Blue Ivy and Apple holding hands at the Super Bowl will give you friendship envy



Presenting, the hottest squad at Super Bowl 50

Apple Martin and Blue Ivy Carter walked adorably hand-in-hand, donning their game-day jackets, prior to the halftime show starring their parents of Coldplay and Beyoncé fame

Apple’s mom, Gwyneth Paltrow (and ex-wife of Coldplay’s Chris Martin), shared the image to Instagram on Sunday, making her the best parent of the night

It’s not long before this duo will be headlining their own halftime show. Blue Ivy/Apple Martin 2016…err, 2046? Read more…

BONUS: Forget the Puppy Bowl. This is Hamster Bowl 2016.

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Transcript: 911 responders worked desperately to locate couple in Manchester

A call for help from one of two people shot to death in Manchester on Christmas morning shows 911 dispatchers and responders desperately trying to determine the location of the emergency and then realizing there is nothing they can do once they arrive.

Eric C. Williams, 35, and Bonnie Royer, 26, were found dead in Williams’ sport utility vehicle at the entrance to a gravel pit on Sanford Road in Manchester, not far from where the couple had lived on Easy Street in north Augusta. Williams was in the driver’s seat, Royer in the passenger seat.

Four days later, David W. Marble Jr., 29, of Rochester, New York, who had been staying on Sewall Street in Augusta, was arrested and charged with murdering the couple, a crime police say was drug-related.

Details about the investigation and an affidavit stating the reasons police believe Marble was involved are contained in court documents sealed by a judge at the request of the state. Those documents remain impounded at the Capital Judicial Center.

Marble, who goes by the nickname “Dee Money,” remains held without bail pending a hearing April 8, when the state will attempt to get his right to bail extinguished.

A transcript of the conversation between dispatchers at the Somerset Regional Communications Center and the Augusta Regional Communications Center begins at 3:34 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2015. It concludes at some unspecified time not long after.

The transcript was obtained from the Augusta Regional Communications Center through a request made by the Kennebec Journal under the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

The call goes first to Somerset because it is the public service answering point for Enhanced 911 calls originating in Manchester, but very quickly it is transferred to the Augusta Regional Communications Center, located on Commerce Drive.

While the transcript was redacted to remove names, phone numbers and other identifying information, the Somerset communications dispatcher tells the Augusta communications specialist that a woman called for help, but was unable to provide an address.


The two communications specialists both repeatedly attempt to get a response from the woman, asking: “Ma’am?” “Ma’am, can you tell me where you are?”

There is no response.

The two communications officers talk about the caller’s location, which appears to move, but it’s unclear where.

“It sounds like outside. I didn’t hear any other background noises or the TV or anything, so I don’t know if she’s outside in a car or whatnot,” the Somerset communications specialist says, signing off after confirming what the woman said and repeating her phone number.

The transcript continues with the Augusta communications specialist seeking to get a response from the woman, who is still apparently on the open line.

“If you can hear me and you’re unable to speak, please press any button on your keypad now.”

The communications specialist then asks another dispatcher to dial that phone number as they try to determine whether the phone is in Augusta.

Road names are redacted, and many lines in the transcript are labeled “inaudible.”

At some point, Augusta police and rescue personnel become involved.

Then about 10 minutes after the Somerset communications center got the initial call, E911 communications specialists have a solid location at an intersection.

“There are no houses on the (inaudible) Road,” the Augusta communications specialist says. Then there is something about “or hiding in the woods,” but nothing else is heard.

As rescue vehicles arrive, it appears that the Augusta communications specialist gets an address not far from the scene.

The communications center officer continues to try for a response from the initial caller.

“Hello, if you can hear me but are unable to speak, please press any button on your keypad now.”

The location is being pinpointed to “that little pit road” apparently off Sanford Road.

Emergency responders and police now know they’re not looking for a residence.

“Well, it’s coming from a (inaudible) middle of the woods.” The location is near the address where the U.S. Cellular phone is registered.

“I can hear something. I don’t know if it’s a female or – something, some (inaudible) just came across.”

A background voice says: “10-4, start rescue. That vehicle’s coming back a maroon (inaudible).” Williams’ SUV was maroon.

Then there’s discussion about the proximity of Augusta Rescue being closer, apparently closer than Winthrop Ambulance.

“Yeah, because if they’re closer and this person is still alive because I just heard a noise – they’re going to get there way before Winthrop does. I’m going to put a note in that Winthrop was advised.”

Sirens are heard in the background. It’s obvious police and rescue units have arrived at the scene.

A background voice is recorded as saying, “Why don’t you try not to walk around too much – the vehicle – they’re not going anywhere – back away.”

The Somerset Communications Center log shows that at 3:34 a.m. a caller reported shots fired in Manchester. It is unclear whether that is what the original caller said or whether another person was reporting hearing the gunfire.

A week after the bodies were discovered, neighbors, friends, and family members of Williams and Royer took part in a memorial vigil outside the couple’s home.

At the vigil, Williams was described by his father as “a big-hearted guy” who would drop everything to help someone else. He was a graduate of Cony High School and Kennebec Valley Community College, where he studied electrical line work.

Royer, who had a 6-year-old daughter and attended Cony High School, was remembered by a friend as someone who was “full of life and had such a kind, big heart.”


Beyonce announces Formation World Tour after Super Bowl halftime show



That’s how you announce a tour.

In an ad airing immediately after her show-stopping Super Bowl Halftime appearance, Beyonce announced that she’ll embark on The Formation World Tour this year. The 40-date tour will kick off in Miami on April 27, traveling through North America until mid June, when it heads to Europe.

On Saturday, Beyonce surprise-released ”Formation,” perhaps her most fierce and definitely her most political single so far. With a tour just around the corner, you can bet the world will be waiting with bated breath for her followup to 2013’s Beyonce. Read more…

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Candidates hammer Rubio after robotic debate performance

CONCORD, N.H. — Marco Rubio’s robotic debate performance on Saturday night sparked an all-out offensive on the campaign trail here on Sunday over his authenticity and experience, momentarily halting the momentum of the senator from Florida and further muddling the presidential nomination battle.

Just two days before the New Hampshire primary, Rubio drew mockery for repeating a rehearsed line four times during the Republican candidates’ debate, even after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had ridiculed him for being a talking-point machine.

Rubio received scathing reviews on the Sunday talk shows and was needled by some of his opponents. On Twitter, he earned the moniker “Rubio bot.”

The episode interrupted Rubio’s week-long effort to build on his impressive third-place showing in the Iowa caucuses and consolidate donors and party officials behind him. It also appeared to give new life to the struggling candidacies of Christie, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while improving Donald Trump’s chances of winning the New Hampshire Republican primary.

The fallout for Rubio over the long term could be severe. His opponents argued Sunday that the debate undercut the central case for Rubio’s candidacy – that his political agility and youthful, charismatic persona make him best positioned to challenge the Democratic nominee.

“The whole race changed last night,” Christie said Sunday on CNN. “There was a march amongst some in the chattering class to anoint Senator Rubio. I think after last night, that’s over. I think there could be four or five tickets now out of New Hampshire because the race is so unsettled now.”

Bush also sounded reinvigorated by the troubles of the otherwise polished Rubio, his one-time Florida protege who has overshadowed him all year. “I envy the people that have, you know, message discipline, to say the same thing over and over again,” Bush told a standing-room-only crowd in Salem. “Sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

Kasich, buoyed by a solid debate performance, refused opportunities Sunday to go after his opponents and instead asked New Hampshire voters to affirm on Tuesday his “unifying positive message.”

Rubio, for his part, came out swinging in a series of events. He was defiant as he defended his debate-night talking point that portrayed President Obama as a wily operator who has succeeded in enacting a liberal agenda.

“I’m going to say it again,” Rubio told a gathering in Londonderry. “The reason why these things are in trouble is because Barack Obama is the first president, at least in my lifetime, that wants to change the country.”

Nonetheless, the debate haunted Rubio on Sunday. In the parking lot at his campaign stop in Hudson, someone placed photocopies of the Boston Herald’s front page – which showed a picture of Rubio with the headline “Choke!” – under the windshield wipers of cars.

Trump has held a dominant lead in the polls in New Hampshire for months. There was a growing sense on the ground in recent days that Rubio might surf a wave of buzz and goodwill to contend for the top spot, but party strategists said the debate probably closed whatever opening may have existed.

Many of the candidates met crowds swelling into the hundreds and even thousands as they barnstormed the state Sunday, fielding questions at town hall meetings and pressing the flesh at diners and pubs. Advisers to the campaigns saw Trump as the favorite but said the race for second place was anybody’s game, citing New Hampshire’s famously fickle and late-deciding electorate.

“It’s unbelievably volatile,” said Steve Duprey, an unaffiliated Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire. “This is the most hotly contested race I’ve seen since the 1976 Ford-Reagan primary.”

The final days in New Hampshire have signaled an unmistakable evolution in the Republican race: For the first time since the summer, it is not revolving solely around Trump.

The run-up to Saturday’s debate was unusual in its absence of a Trump controversy. Indeed, he has been a sporadic presence on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

“For the first time in this entire election cycle, a candidate other than Donald Trump is actually able to get their message out,” said Todd Harris, a senior adviser to Rubio.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a vocal Trump critic and Bush booster, said Trump’s second-place finish in Iowa behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas zapped some of the energy around him.

“He went from being the big man winner to a whiner,” Graham said.

Trump, too, acknowledged a new dynamic. “They’re getting better,” he said of the other candidates after the debate. “But I’m always in the center. I’ve always been in the center from day one.”

In a departure for a candidate who typically jumps at the chance to puncture his opponents, the businessman resisted critiquing Rubio in a series of post-debate interviews.

“He’s been hit very hard on the Twitter,” Trump said late Saturday night. Wincing, he added, “I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want to comment on anybody else’s performance because I actually have a very good relationship with Marco.”

Trump may stand to gain from Rubio’s longevity in the upper tier because the senator prevents Cruz from uniting the right.

Trump labored through just two campaign stops Sunday afternoon with uncharacteristic signs of weariness, foregoing his typical bomb-throwing against his chief opponents during a rally of about 1,000 in Plymouth. Trump’s most dynamic appeal came when he reminded voters of the importance of showing up.

“You guys better vote for me,” he said with a smile. “I don’t need your money, I need your vote!”

For Rubio, there were glimmers of recovery. His unapologetic debate answer defending his opposition to abortion rallied social conservative leaders to his side and helped induce what aides said was $600,000 in online fundraising.

Charlie Dancause, 63, a retired postal worker and Navy veteran, watched Rubio campaign in Londonderry and was impressed.

“I thought he got killed,” Dancause said, but “he bounced back. And today he’s smiling. He’s in with the crowd. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. That’s what a politician needs to do!”

In his post-debate analysis, Harris looked ahead to a general election featuring Rubio as the party’s standard-bearer.

“We took the fight to President Obama,” Harris said of Rubio’s repeated talking point. “The media may not like it, but you know what? We’re going to do the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next day.”

Here’s the view of Super Bowl 50 — from space



You’ve probably seen plenty of Super Bowls in your life. But have you ever seen the Super Bowl … from space?

American astronaut Scott Kelly has — and he shared his epic (albeit very temporary) vantage point for Super Bowl 50 with the rest of us on Sunday

Kelly has been blowing earthbound minds for months by posting photos from aboard the International Space Station. Here’s one he shared on Super Bowl Sunday from high above Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area

Kelly’s Super Bowl party, however, wasn’t exactly a hit on the ISS, which currently hosts a crew of six including himself Read more…

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Anthony Hopkins is so Method when he sells out to capitalism for the Super Bowl



Sir Anthony Hopkins, the renowned British actor best known for his villainous turns, has far too much integrity to ever star in a Super Bowl commercial.

Or at least that’s the joke in a Super Bowl commercial starring Hopkins, in which he lounges with a dog named, shilling for the online tax service.

The 30-second spot has Hopkins doing an interview with a journalist somewhat similar to Inside the Actor’s Studio‘s James Lipton. 

Lipton, oddly enough, starred in a hilarious teaser for the ad earlier this week about him getting cut out of the TurboTax commercial.  Read more…

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