A series of Super Bowl ads with themes about dads before halftime on Sunday struck a nerve with viewers by creating a generally depressing atmosphere about everything from neglecting kids to absentee parents.
The first ad to depress viewers wasn’t directly about dads, but about neglectful parents in general. A commercial for Nationwide was about promoting childhood safety and included a number of scenes of dangerous circumstances that can kill kids, including a collapsed large screen TV, an overflowing bathtub, and a kitchen sink cabinet with poisonous chemicals.
It was the series of Super Bowl ads about dads that really drove people over the edge, though. A commercial for the 2016 Nissan Maxima depicted an absentee race car-driving dad who missed most of his increasingly angst-ridden son’s growing up. It even included Cat Stevens’ “Cat’s in the Cradle” song about an absentee father.
In the end, the dad showed up in his Nissan to pick his son up, though it’s not clear if the two reconciled. The father was turning grey and the son was almost a grown man. As for the car, it’s expected to debut later this year. It marks the first time in 18 years that Nissan has made a commercial for the Super Bowl.
The company went the extra mile and launched a social media campaign before the commercial aired during the Super Bowl, just to be on the safe side. The campaign included a site called WithDad.com, where people could submit their videos about what fatherhood means to them.
Dove’s ‘Daddy’ ad — in which scene after scene of tear-jerking encounters between dads and their kids can be seen — was also aimed at emotional manipulation.
The ads about dads set off a string of comments on Twitter by people watching the Super Bowl, many using the hashtag #dads.
Let’s hear it for #dads
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 2, 2015
As a father, I will never be able to live up to these ads. #SuperBowlXLIX — Clifford G. Cumber (@cgcumber) February 2, 2015
I feel so empowered as a father, thanks brands!
— Mitchell Holder (@mitchellholder) February 2, 2015
— Brianna Gallett (@briannagallett) February 2, 2015
— John Jurgensen (@johnjurg) February 2, 2015
Though ads with positive portrayals of dads have become more popular with advertisers, the Super Bowl ads seem to have taken things to the next level.