As I think many viewers would agree, one of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl are the advertisements. Companies tend to step up their game for this annual event, pitching America with their most affective ads. However, this year, during the most-watched show in TV history, I noticed two significant trends in the ads.

For starters, a lot of brands backed away from the obvious, slapstick comedy approach. Instead, they decided to tug at the heart strings of viewers. Pre-game, all four quarters, and after, I felt myself on a rollercoaster of emotion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good laugh. Still, I must admit that I found this year’s approach very refreshing. Super Bowl brands recognized an opportunity to try something different, and capitalized on it. For example, Budweiser’s classic “Lost Dog” commercial reminded viewers of the importance of loyalty and companionship in a cute and cuddly way. Nissan highlighted the importance of family, featuring the relationship between a NASCAR-racing dad and his son. Toyota went for inspiration in their Camry commercial featuring paraplegic athlete Amy Purdy.

Most companies steered clear of controversy this year and took the safe route. With the exception of Nationwide’s graphically blunt advertisement highlighting the large amount of preventable accidents in children, brands just scraped the surface of risk. For example, brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, who are known for their superior advertising, focused their spots around happiness and “Lovin’,” as opposed to previous years that were centered on community and humor.

This year’s spots showed that advertising doesn’t have to be extreme or go for shock value to make an impression. Even though Super Bowl XLIX advertisements took a softer, more emotional approach, they were still incredibly affective and for the most part, did their job – getting people talking and their brands noticed. I’m impressed that, across the board, brands were able to recognize the growing desire for something different, not the same old fare, and execute it as well as they did.