NEW YORK – Forget slapstick humor, corny gimmicks and skimpy bikinis. This years Super Bowl ads promise something surprising: maturity.
There wont be any close-up tongue kisses in GoDaddys ad. Nor will there be half-naked women running around in the Axe body spray spot. And Gangnam-style dancing will be missing from the Wonderful Pistachios commercial.
In their place? Fully clothed women, well-known celebrities and more product information.
Were seeing sophistication come to the Super Bowl, says Kelly OKeefe, a professor of brand strategy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Not long ago, almost everything seemed to be about beer or bros or boobs.
Companies that typically go for ads with shock value are toning them down as they try to get the most out of the estimated $4 million that 30-second Super Bowl spots cost this year.
Experts say companies are using the ads to build their image, rather than just grab attention for one night. Additionally, although the old adage asserts that sex sells, experts say companies realize that watchers have grown bored with sophomoric humor.
You cant really shock people visually anymore, ad critic and Mediapost columnist Barbara Lippert says. So this year, people are being more creative.
No more kisses
GoDaddy.com, an Internet domain registrar and a Web-hosting company, has made a name for itself for years with racy Super Bowl ads.
But its changing its tune after last years Super Bowl spot showed an uncomfortably long, close-up kiss between supermodel Bar Refaeli and a bespectacled computer geek.
The ad drew widespread criticism on social media. It also was deemed one of the least effective ads by Ace Metrix, which measures ads effectiveness. And it ranked last on USA Todays annual ad meter.
This year, GoDaddy is focusing on its products. And women are being portrayed as smart, successful small-business owners, says Barb Rechterman, GoDaddys chief marketing officer.
In one ad, released last week, spokeswoman Danica Patrick, a race car driver, wears a muscle suit as she runs down the street with a growing crowd of other muscular people. The crowd heads for a spray-tanning business owned by a woman, who says, Its go time.
Sex didnít sell enough
Unilever also is changing its approach. The companys Axe body spray typically plays up sex, including last years Super Bowl ad that showed a bikini-clad woman being rescued from drowning by a hunky man.
The ad, which has 5.8 million views on YouTube.com after a year, ranked in the bottom 10 ads on USA Todays ad meter.
This year, to introduce its Peace fragrance, Axes ad depicts several seemingly militaristic scenes in different countries that end up with couples embracing. The ad, which already has 3.5 million views on YouTube, says: Make Love Not War.
Matthew McCarthy, Axe senior director of brand development, says that even though the ad is more sophisticated than previous efforts, Were doing something that surprises people.
The celebrity game
The ad for Wonderful Pistachios also might surprise watchers. Experts say when the brand, which is owned by Roll International, debuted at last years Super Bowl, it made a typical rookie mistake: jumping on a fad.
The ad featured Psy, a one-hit wonder from South Korea whose single Gangnam Style and an accompanying dance were smash hits at the time. But the ad – like Psy – was quickly forgotten. The ad ranked 28 out of 54 on the USA Today Ad Meter.
This year, the company enlisted comedian Stephen Colbert, whos more well-known and established.
The ad will start a yearlong campaign with Colbert. Colberts image is smarter and more inventive than the Gangnam-style dance, Mediapost.coms Lippert says.