The Super Bowl has evolved over the years into not only a sports competition, but a contest of advertisements. This year the political ads stood out because there are no political races to be won.
Take Jeep's "Whole Again" Super Bowl spot. With a voiceover by Oprah Winfrey, this was the first serious and somber spot of the game. One of the longest, it made the point that normal life is not so normal for military families, because they constantly miss their loved ones.
One of the controversial ads, Volkswagen’s “Get Happy”, introduced diversity. A normal, boring white man is transformed into an easy-going Jamaican by his accent, and encourages everyone in his office to ‘get happy!”
Before it even aired some were accusing it of subtle racism; once it aired, it was hailed in social media as one of the best commercials of the night. Still, a few called it, "uncomfortably racist."
Jamaican officials said they believed the ad could improve tourism. Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill told The Associated Press, "I think this is a very creative commercial which truly taps into the tremendous appeal that brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally."
The Chrysler “Keep Plowing” ad stirred controversy after it aired. The ad was serious in tone with an emotional appeal; it showed intense visuals like tired faces, lonely homes and crop fields, and rough hands and cracked nails. It associated the toughness of the Dodge Ram with the American farmer.
What is causing controversy is not the association with the farmers but the narration. The ad is set against an iconic speech delivered by ABC broadcaster Paul Harvey at the 1978 Future Farmers of America convention. People are complaining about Harvey's focus on "God" in the speech.
Some nonreligious viewers say they take offense at the ad's association of religion with hard work, while viewers on the opposite end of the spectrum say they are disappointed by the cynicism expressed about the commercial.
One ad was aired solely with the intent to lobby legislators. “Demand a Plan” by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, followed up the patriotic sentiment of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Choir's performance of the National Anthem with an ad pushing gun control reform.
As “America the Beautiful” played in the background, photos of children flashed and a child's voice said, "The N.R.A. once supported background checks." Then the ad cut to a video of Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the N.R.A., stating his support for background checks in 1999, after which the same child's voice said, "America can do this for us ... please."
The ad only aired in the Washington, D.C. area, where gun control debates are ongoing in Congress.