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The Most Talked About Super Bowl 51 Ads—So Far

Some of the most buzz-worthy ads court real controversy
By Rose Leadem |

The Super Bowl has always been more than about the game. After the much-awaited halftime performance, the commercials, whether they are good, bad or controversial, are some of the reasons why people watch.


For many companies, Super Bowl ads are an opportunity to change how their brands are perceived. In fact, nearly 40 percent of people say that these ads have the power to do that, according to data by ad network MGID.


A 30-second spot during the game reportedly cost around US$5 million, according to Forbes. Despite the lucrative price tag, some say the deal is actually a bargain especially as viewership was expected to be around 110 and 115 million people.


Related: What Super Bowl Ads Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Marketing


With the power of social media, that proves to be true. Some of the ads listed will surely continue to grow some buzz in the next few days.



1. Audi 

Audi’s Super Bowl ad features a young girl blazing to a first-place finish in a go-cart race while her father, standing on the sidelines, wonders how he can explain to his daughter why it is that men are paid more than women. The end of the minute-long commercial ends with a message: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Progress is for everyone.”



While the car company clearly wants to take a stance on and do something to ameliorate the gender pay gap, the commercial has garnered criticism on social media, with some saying that Audi’s hiring practices don’t reflect the message of the likely well-intentioned ad.


The company’s six-person Board of Management is made up of entirely men, and of the 14 members of Audi USA’s executive team, only two are women. However, the company responded to comments to that effect on its Facebook page, writing, “Audi has diverse hiring practices to ensure equality across our staff and we pledge to put aggressive hiring and development strategies in place to increase the number of women in our workforce, at all levels.”



2. Budweiser

Although it claims it’s not making a political statement, Budweiser sure did drop this commercial at the right time. In the midst of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban and the controversy it has caused, Budweiser has released its Super Bowl 51 ad, which tells the story of company co-founder Adolphus Busch’s 1857 journey from Germany to the United States.



The campaign, called “Born the Hard Way,” takes place on the Mississippi River, where Busch (played by Sam Schweikert) jumps off and makes his way to the shore of St. Louis. The ad shows his difficult journey to the land of freedom, and the commercial ends with Busch having a beer with his “new friend” and co-founder, Eberhard Anheuser.


The immigrant story was inspired by stills from The Revenant and Peaky Blinders to create a “gritty, compelling short film,” AdWeek reports.



3. Airbnb

Probably one of the simplest, yet most talked about ad during the game was space-sharing startup Airbnb’s #weaccept commercial, which featured people of different ethnicities, at some points, sharing a single frame.


The ad featured the message: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”



The campaign looks to be a jab at US President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order banning refugees from select Middle East countries. 




4. Bai

Thanks to this clever commercial, antioxidant infused drink, Bai, has piqued the interest of many. The ad first showed Christopher Walken reciting the lyrics of 90s boyband group NSync’s song, “Bye Bye Bye.” The video then revealed Justin Timberlake, the band’s star alumnus, sitting across the actor.


Now that’s one masterfully crafted 30-second bit. 




5. Lexus

As a sleek car company, Lexus stays true to its reputation with its Super Bowl 51 commercial titled “Man and Machine.” The ad, which isn’t too wow-worthy, features dancer Lil Buck showing off his moves around a 2017 Lexus LC model to Sia’s song “Move Your Body.” After a minute of dancing, a woman’s voice—which happens to be Minnie Driver's—introduces the new model.



6. Wix

Wix is participating in its third Super Bowl this year, revealing an action-packed ad that takes place in a restaurant called Chez Felix. While a man (played by Jason Statham) and a woman (played by Gal Gadot) seem to be causing havoc in the restaurant, the owner, Felix, is completely oblivious because he’s too focused on putting together his Wix website.




7. Squarespace

Squarespace is making its fourth Super Bowl appearance this year. In its new spot, actor John Malkovich attempts to create his personal website at only to find that the URL is already taken. Angered, the actor types an email to this other John Malkovich.



8. Tiffany & Co. 

From an acting debut in American Horror Story to belting out “The Hills Are Alive” onstage at the Grammy’s—Lady Gaga’s repertoire is impressive. 


Aside from the halftime show, Lady Gaga also starred in the Super Bowl commercial of luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. 


The ad features Gaga promoting Tiffany's new HardWear collection in a black-and-white format. This new Super Bowl ad will mark the first time in 20 years that Tiffany’s is partaking in the big game.


But hey, did you know? The company has been responsible for creating the Super Bowl trophy since 1967.




9. Nintendo

Nintendo used the Super Bowl in a big push to promote its new Switch console, which will be available on March 3 for $299. This is the first time Nintendo has ever participated in the big game, and the company does an excellent job portraying the complexities of the new product.



In the video, people play on the Switch console in a number of different scenarios—dueling at a party, a father and son boxing in their living room and students taking a break between classes to play Splatoon tournaments.



10. KFC

In KFC’s first ever Super Bowl commercial, actor Billy Zane takes the spotlight—decked out in head-to-toe gold body paint. The ad features two colonels—Zane as one and Rob Riggle as the other. Riggle plays KFC’s typical white-haired Colonel, and Zane is the gold Colonel—promoting KFC’s new Georgia Gold Chicken, which unfortunately is only available in the US for now. 





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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editors.

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