There was a short period in my life when I dabbled into advertising and even did a few internships at some ad agencies (including the one that does the GEICO ads), so for a little bit I thought I’d be designing commercials for a living. That did not come to pass, but I’m still drawn to the “Commercials Super Bowl” each year, and I love to see the best work of the ad agencies and the companies they are representing. It’s also fun to think about how much money each company spent for a commercial slot, and the accompanying pressure to get it right. It’s very easy to see which companies just burned millions of dollars (or even lost brand power) vs. the companies who put that money to good use.
To determine the top 10, each commercial was ranked on a scale of 0-30, with points coming from the following criteria:
Have I seen this idea done before? Is it the same old thing, or a whole new spin on what a commercial can be?
Emotion & Effectiveness (1-10)
Whatever this commercial is trying to do (make me laugh, make me cry, make me stop and think), how well does it do it?
Brand Tie-in (1-10)
In a year from now will I remember which brand this commercial was for (even if it scored highly in the other two categories)? Did it make sense for the brand’s current position or desired direction?
Additionally, the commercial must air between the National Anthem and the final set of commercials after the clock runs out. These days companies create “Super Bowl” commercials for YouTube without actually airing them during the game on TV, and those do not count It should also be noted that some of your favorites may not have made my top 10, simply because something about my personal background and biases gave certain commercials legs up.
Without further ado, here are the winners!
1. NFL 100 Year Anniversary banquet. Just too many legendary and current players to deny that that was an awesome commercial. Obvious brand tie-in, and would probably get anybody watching excited about year 100 of the NFL.
2. Bud Light corn syrup delivery. Well done, super funny, and obviously got the message across that they don’t use Corn Syrup I loved at the end when the enemy guy was like, “and just in case you missed it somehow, we use corn syrup!” Also, props for the Game of Thrones tie-in commercial. Love that they let the Bud Light knight get owned like that.
3. Hyundai elevator of misery. Loved how they conveyed that car shopping is even worse than root canals, the talk, jury duty, vegan dinner parties, etc. Made a lot of sense, great tie in to the new sales method they’re using. Solid!
4. Audi cashew near-death. What is heaven? Awesome electric cars. Message received. The look on the guys face that says “man, I wish I could stay dead and be with grandpa and that car” did it for me.
5. Google translate. Lots of warm fuzzies while Google still recognized that sometimes their tools are used for evil. I liked that they were just showing Google Translate and not Google as a whole. Good to narrow in on a cool feature like that.
6. SimpliSafe world of fear. Really hit home with how we’re conditioned to be afraid of everything, and how there’s always some new thing to be “worried” about, like wheat bread. Tied in well with the brand. Only issue is that the commercial is telling me that there are so many things that I shouldn’t actually be worried about since we’re overreacting, but then it tries to sell me on a security system. Something was missing a little bit there on the end effect, but I still really enjoyed this one.
7. Washington Post democracy dies in darkness. Certainly one of the heaviest commercials, but well done and felt important. Loved the shout-outs to the journalists who have died gathering the stories.
8. Michelob Ultra sounds and nature. The sound engineering on this was cool. Not a whole lot to the commercial, but the silence and the sounds they achieved caught my interest. Drove their point home well about Pure Gold being different from others and being more pure in some way.
9. Spiked Seltzer shark tank pitch. People love shark tank. It’s fun to meet the founders, hear about something too good to be true, and then see the sharks’ reactions. Clever way to pull all of that in and make us watch their shark tank pitch without even realizing it. Solid!
10. Expensify rap video. Just hard to pass up Ben Wyatt in his accounting role from Parks and Rec asking for expense receipts and reports. Good job conveying what the product does and I loved the tagline at the end that says “You weren’t born to do expenses,” so you should focus on your core business.
1. Tide, of course. They DOMINATED the super bowl ads this year. They spoofed every commercial imaginable and pretty soon I found myself thinking about Tide on most of the commercials. I felt so bad for the other detergent commerical (for Persil) came on, because right away I was like, “it’s a Tide ad!” Original, great brand tie in, great humor.
2. Australia tourism fake movie preview. They got me! I totally thought the thing was a movie promo and then turns out they tricked me into wanting to go to Australia. Full marks for originality and good marks on effectiveness and brand tie in.
3. Rocket Mortgage guy translating everything for people and then handing a couple the Rocket Mortgage app. Had some really funny moments and really brought home the idea that the app will translate all the housing lingo for you. Nicely done.
4. Michelob Ultra Chris Pratt as an extra. Comical, and I thought did a good job portraying the message that they wanted – that Ultra is for everyone. And come on, Chris Pratt is the best!
5. Jeep Wrangler driving through the river and up the waterfall. Just straight up cool seeing the car own the waterfall and not have anything else flashy or silly going on. Message received!
6. Budweiser factory delivering water. Great emotional commercial tying into all the tragedies of the past year.
7. Kia Steven Tyler driving back in time. Not great brand tie in to Kia specifically, but a fun emotional moment when he steps out of the car and is young again.
8. Sprint robots laughing at guy for using Verizon. They’ve been hammering this same “why pay double for 1% thing” for a while, but I thought they presented it well with the genius robots calling the guy out on it.
9. Verizon thanking first responders. Not great brand tie-in, but a really cool emotional idea of the rescued people calling their rescuers.
10. Avocados people freaking out about not having chips. Fun!