It’s arguably the biggest night of the year as the best players in the game showcase their skills in front of a worldwide audience.
No, we’re not talking about the football players. We’re talking about the advertisers.
As marketers and designers, we enjoy watching the Super Bowl commercials as much as you do. We watch for production value, scriptwriting and storytelling, branding opportunities ... and, yes, the ads that flop or don’t make any sense at all.
After our inaugural #TFFadchat Sunday night, and a review during our weekly Monday morning meeting, here’s a look at what the team at Ten Fast Feet said were the best commercials of the bunch ... and the worst.
Best Storytelling, No Words:
Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Clydesdale Reunion (watch)
This ad drew vastly different reactions from the TFF team. Several despised it. Others loved it. But either way, it’s tough to argue the fact that this ad had the best storytelling of any Sunday night. It said so much ... without saying a word. It’s the ultimate example of "show, don’t tell," along the same lines of that animated sequence in the Pixar movie “Up” that still gets some of us choked up every time. It’s also the ad that edged out the others as the winner of the annual USAToday ad meter.
Best Storytelling, With Words:
Audi Prom Night (watch)
It had the feel of a short film, all in 60 seconds. Teen boy doesn’t have a prom date, gets fancy car from Dad to use for prom night, flirts with popular girl in traffic. Girl becomes prom queen, boy kisses girl, girl’s date punches boy, boy goes home smiling with a black eye. It’s a full storyline. These types of story-telling ads are becoming more and more popular, but Audi executed it to perfection.
NFL Evolution Protecting the Game (watch)
This ad wasn’t included in the USAToday ad meter, but it was one that garnered a lot of praise from our team. The post-production work on this ad was nicely done, with smooth, seamless transitions between live- action and computer-generated footage.
Best Ad ... Worst Branding:
Dodge Ram Farmers (watch)
It seemed this ad drew a lot of attention from a lot of Super Bowl-watching parties. Several people commented on Twitter that the rooms they were sitting in all respectively got quiet during this ad. It was very well done … but it’s also the ad that’s likely on the receiving end of this question today: “I loved that farmers ad. Who was it for again?” Beautiful ad. Poor branding. Some echoed that this was eerily similar to the Chrysler ad a couple of years ago that featured Eminem. A baby boomer said the ad appealed so much to her, thanks to the use of Paul Harvey, she went and sought out the brand behind the ad this morning. With Ram spending 2-minutes of airtime, it is somewhat surprising that the branding wasn’t more prevalent. But, proof that Paul Harvey fans still have some clout, it was popular – finishing in the top 3 in the USAToday ad meter rankings.
Ad Benefitting from Game Circumstances:
Tide Miracle Stain (watch)
The second-most popular ad of the night, according to the USAToday ad meter, this one definitely benefitted the most from the circumstances during the game. The ad, which referenced a "49ers miracle" aired right as the 49ers were in the process of a remarkable comeback in the fourth quarter. Not only was it a good ad that was tailored specifically to the two teams in the game (the wife who washed the jersey was a Ravens fan), it lucked out on its timing.
Ad Capitalizing on Game Circumstances:
Oreo Blackout Twitter Ad
It wasn’t a commercial, but many have argued today that Oreo got more bang for its buck for a quick-response tweet during the unexpected blackout in the stadium. The Oreo marketing team was together with its agency team, 360i, which allowed for the quick decision and implementation of the image to capitalize on the rare situation. It resulted in thousands of retweets. Meanwhile, Oreo’s traditional TV ad during the Super Bowl, which featured whisperers in a library, was only in the middle of the pack on the USAToday ad meter.
The debate continued Monday morning during our meeting as to which one of these was the worst. So, we decided to include both of them. A strong point was made, though – the GoDaddy commercial was so uncomfortable that people were still talking about it today. And if that’s the case, is it really a flop … or was that the desired response? It was, however, rated the lowest on the USAToday ad meter. The Axe ad, meanwhile, fared slightly better in the meter rankings, but as it was highly forgettable, it might actually be a better choice for biggest flop.