My Favorite and Not So Favorite Super Bowl Ads

In addition to the ads mentioned in my last blog, The Magical Healing Power of Tom Brady, here are some of my additional favorites, along with my candidates for worst ad, from the game. As always, an important component of my ratings is if the ad was “on-brand,” something Super Bowl advertisers sometimes forget on the way to making a “creative, stand-out” spot.

Will Ferrell for General Motors – The collection of Ferrell, Keenan Thompson and Akwafina seemed random, but what about Will Ferrell’s comedy isn’t random or spontaneous? Regardless, this was a very funny spot that clearly communicated its message: GM has or will have an electric car for you. It did so without being nasty or jingoistic.

Doritos 3D. – I can’t imagine the real life Matthew McConaughey eating even a single Dorito, but this ad used a clever visual device to set up a several engaging vignettes while letting us know exactly what the rational – and would argue emotional – benefits of this product are.

Michelob Ultra – This brand has done a great job in growing its business by establishing a strong, emotionally based reason-for-being focused on balance. In this star-studded spot, celebrities aren’t just there for no other reason than being famous. Rather, it focuses on who they are as people and on an important quality of being a winner. The spot shines a light on the role of a positive, happy, balanced approach to life. It rings true to see that in winning, the journey is just as or more important important than the destination.

Jimmy John’s – Truly funny, with a great performance from a well-chosen celebrity, Brad Garrett. I loved this twist on the gangster story down to the details, including Garrett’s character referring to the brand as “Jimmys Johns.”

Other favorites include Michelob Hard Seltzer, Scott’s Miracle Grow, Amazon Alexa with Michael B. Jordan, Tide with Jason Alexander and the hilarious Klarna ad with Maya Rudolf.

The honors for worst ad all have one thing in common. The clients and agencies tried writing a “great Super Bowl spot” using a process driven, paint-by-numbers approach. There’s no soul to these spots that try to be “super” without the strategic guidance or the executional magic.

Pringles was much ado about nothing, Weather Tech puffed out its chest but its spot could be for any American company, Dawn & Swiffer (two products in a single ad gives me pause right away) was another “let’s pull together,” attempting but failing to ladder up from the insight that “ 65% of household chores are done by one person, Cutwater Spirits was a generic beer ad for cocktails in a can and Joe Montana for Guinness had more (disconnected) cliches per second than any ad in recent memory. And of course, there was Robin Hood, who ran a bad spot at the wrong time.

  • Zach. Berk
    Posted at 08:56h, 09 February Reply

    I very much enjoyed your reviews shown during the S B! Thanks.

    • jbhirsch
      Posted at 09:11h, 09 February Reply

      Thank you Zach!

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