To nobody’s surprise, the 2015 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks averaged 114.4 million viewers per minute, becoming the most watched event in American TV history.

The real surprise came from the commercials. During the Super Bowl, one expects to laugh at funny advertisements for beer, sports cars, and Doritos. While many of these companies continued to advertise and join the humorous trend, other companies joined the fray and took a much more emotional approach to their commercials.

  1. Nationwide: The thought provoking Make Safe Happen commercial showed that we should protect what matters most- children. While this commercial focused on a very important issue, accidental child deaths, some viewers felt it was inappropriate for the Super Bowl, with tweets such as, “Just make us laugh like all the other insurance peddlers.” Even media outlets considered Nationwide’s commercial one the worst of the Super Bowl, and yet, Nationwide still succeeded in becoming the most discussed and spreading their message.
  1. Toyota and Nissan: Super Bowl fans were a little teary-eyed after Toyota’s My Bold Dad and Nissan’s With Dad These advertisements used themes of family boding and fatherly commitment and responsibilities to promote their brands. Super Bowl commercials of the past have emphasized men’s masculinity, but this year’s game showed that men are loving and caring too.
  1. Microsoft: Microsoft’s Braylon O’Neill commercial tugs on the heartstrings by showing six year old Braylon O’Neill, born missing the tibia and fibula bones in both of his legs, going about his daily activities and playing the sports he loves with Microsoft’s technology. While a typical Super Bowl commercial may have promoted Microsoft’s latest tablet or newest video game console, this year the tech giant went for the emotions – and received positive press because of it.

This year, Super Bowl commercials were not what many expected. Rather than high budget, over the top marketing campaigns, the Super Bowl showed that simplicity and an emotional connection can be key. Will more companies continue to use the new “Super Bowl” approach? Share your thoughts with us!