GenLens on the SuperBowl

We have two goals for watching the SuperBowl at BridgeWorks: 1) find commercials that have a generational approach, and 2) review/critique/love/hate them. (Some of us also care about the game… I’ll leave that for someone else to review.) There were many wonderful commercials this year with no shortage of tears, nostalgia, and dads. Instead of dissecting all of them, we have chosen a handful of ads—good and bad—that can be looked at through a generational lens.

Commercial #1 – Dodge, “Wisdom”


Perfectly titled, this commercial featured Traditionalists at the young age of 100 giving us viewers advice: “live for now,” “always tell the truth,” “keep your eyes open and sometimes your mouth shut,” “hesitate and you lose.” We loved this one. It perfectly captured how much Traditionalists have to teach us and how we really never should “forget where [we] came from.” As the Traditionalist generation ages, the younger generations are starting to realize the knowledge we may be losing by not asking them to share their stories. So well done—this commercial was fantastic. I may not be super thrilled to buy a Dodge (I am a car-averse Millennial, after all) but I am stoked to turn 100.

Commercial #2 – Budweiser, “Brewed the Hard Way” (not the puppy one)


Okay, I’m not going to hold back here: I was NOT a fan of the Budweiser MacroBrew ad. The craft beer scene has been steadily rising for a while now—mostly because of Millennials, hipster and non-hipster alike—and big breweries like Anheuser-Busch’ sales have been declining. I was on board in the beginning of the ad. They’re clearly trying to be true to who they are by making fun of the pretentious beer-loving 20-somethings and celebrating their legacy brewing methods. Then 30 seconds in, they say, “The people who drink our beer are the people who like to drink beer the hard way.” Wait, what? You lost me. Then a flannel-wearing person delivered beer to what looked like a dive bar. This has hipster, craft-beer-loving Millennials written all over it. I’m entertained but not impressed. Sorry, Bud. It’s cool that they’re bringing back the '70s tagline, “This Bud’s for you” and it could very well engage the drinking demographic that they’re losing. But if I want something cheap and full of “golden suds,” I’d go for a PBR tallboy any day over a Bud. My Millennial CEO disagrees with me. She loved the commercial and thought it did an excellent job being true to their brand while engaging a naïve demo. We’ve agreed to disagree. Maybe you will too.

Commercial #3 – Microsoft, “Empowering us all”


I really respect the direction Microsoft took with their Superbowl ads. They’ve been trying to tap into the Millennial market the last couple years and have consistently come up short (I almost shrank in embarrassment for them watching the Surface dub-stepping/breakdancing ads). This year, I think they may have succeeded. Surveys and studies consistently report that Millennials make both career and purchasing decisions on whether they feel like they are positively impacting the community, the environment, or the globe. Through the powerful stories of Braylon O’Neill and Estella’s Brilliant Bus, Microsoft is telling us that purchasing their product means “empowering individuals to do more and achieve more so that dreams can become a reality.” I’m sure this Millennial doesn’t stand alone as the only one feeling #empowered to consider Microsoft for my next tech purchase. As an aside: Common’s narration was spectacular.

Commercial #4 – BMW, “Newfangled Idea”


What generation didn’t love the BMW ad beginning with the discussion of that crazy unknown thing called the internet? I’m sure Xers saw this and remembered talking to their bosses the next week about how important it was. Millennials watched and laughed uproariously. A time when everyone didn’t know the internet?! Look where we are now! This commercial fantastically exemplifies the upgrade cycle Millennials have grown up in.

Commercial #5 – Snickers, “The Machete Bunch”


This perfectly nostalgic ad had our Xers in the office raving. To borrow the words of my colleague, “The commercial was great because: 1) the FX crossover—so cool to put a current character into an old show, and 2) such an amazing contrast between Tarantino-esque violence and a wholesome sitcom… we Xers love that contrast.”

Half-time show: Xers wanted more Lenny, Millennials wanted more Missy, and all of us want to visit that Californian land with dancing sharks.

Shout-out to some other favorites not featured above: Dove Men+Care “#RealStrength,” “No More,” Liam Neeson in “Clash of Clans: Revenge,” or Squarespace “Om,” Always #likeagirl, Coca-Cola #makeithappy, and T-Mobile “Data Vulture.”