Super Bowl 50: How Do Ads Past And Present Stack Up? Analysts say the Super Bowl ads this year are funnier and more star-studded than in the past.
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Super Bowl Ads Past And Present: How Do They Stack Up?

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Super Bowl Ads Past And Present: How Do They Stack Up?

Super Bowl Ads Past And Present: How Do They Stack Up?

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Now, of course, for some people Super Bowl Sunday isn't even about the football. It's about the commercials. Over the years, advertising spots during a Super Bowl have become more elaborate, more talked about and even more expensive than ever. Jeanine Poggi is from Advertising Age, where she covers the TV industry, which this time of year means she's watching Super Bowl commercials. And she's here to give us a preview. Hi Jeanine, thanks for joining us.

JEANINE POGGI: Hi, thanks for having me.

MARTIN: I guess we should start by queuing the mandatory Super Bowl commercial montage. Here it is.


SETH ROGEN: Nothing brings America together like Bud Light.


HELEN MIRREN: Hello, I'm Helen Mirren.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Puppymonkeybaby...


SCOTT BAIO: This is Scott Baio.

MARTIN: So you've been watching all these ads ahead of the game. What are some of the trends this year?

POGGI: Yeah, you know, compared to last year where we're really seeing much more lighter, humorous fun filled with celebrities. There are about 40 celebrities in this year's Super Bowl, and that compares to about 28 last year, so a lot more star-studded. It's going to be an uplifting Super Bowl, I think.

MARTIN: Well, one of the things I think you're referring to is that last year, many people will remember just how gloomy the ads were. Like, you know, what was up with that?

POGGI: We actually were kind of dubbing it the somber bowl because it was just - there was cyberbullying, domestic abuse. There was that Nationwide boy commercial about this dead boy who got killed from preventable household accidents.

MARTIN: Oh, wait, wait, hold on - let me just play that for people who aren't, you know, sad enough. Like, here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: I'll never learn to fly or travel the world with my best friend. And I won't ever get married. I couldn't grow up because I died from an accident.

MARTIN: I mean, wow...

POGGI: That's just depressing.

MARTIN: I - thank you. I mean, how does it happen that that tone becomes the tone? How does something like that happen?

POGGI: There are stats that show that more serious ads or ads with a social message do tend to outperform some humorous ads. But if you have a Super Bowl filled with these, like, depressing, sad - they don't really - none of them stand out from each other. And it just kind of leaves people a little depressed, I think.

MARTIN: So all these eyeballs aren't cheap to reach, correct?

POGGI: No - no it is not. So it's costing about $4.8 million dollars with some paying as much as $5 million dollars for a 30-second spot.

MARTIN: Five-million dollars for 30 seconds.

POGGI: Well, it's 30 seconds but there's a lot that marketers do around these spots. And that's why we see all the use of social media and, you know, other digital platforms.

MARTIN: I confess, I was watching these in my office. I was laughing so loud people were annoyed. I'm guessing that now the Super Bowl is probably the only time of year some people even watch ads at all.

POGGI: Yeah, I mean, think about it. So first off, the Super Bowl last year was watched by over 114 million people. When do you ever see that in TV anymore? I mean, even popular shows like "The Walking Dead," it's more like 16 million. And then you have Netflix and binge-watching, and a lot of times people are skipping over the ads. So for a lot of viewing, people aren't even watching the ads. And it's definitely - the Super Bowl - one of the few if only places that people say hey, I'm actually tuning in to view the commercials.

MARTIN: So when you talk to people about their Super Bowl commercials, did you find that everybody has a favorite?

POGGI: People have favorites. You know, just...

MARTIN: Do you have a favorite?

POGGI: I really love Avocado from Mexico.

MARTIN: Can we play a little bit of that?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Behold, the bounty of Earth. This is the cube of Rubik. This simple puzzle was actually considered unsolvable by the humans.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Do they not have brains?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Simple ones.

POGGI: You know, it's hard to do funny, I think, and they just get it right.

MARTIN: That's Jeanine Poggi. She's a reporter for Ad Age. Jeanine, thanks so much.

POGGI: Thanks.

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