Super Bowl 50 Advertising Roundup

The Hits, Misses, and Fumbles of Super Bowl 2016

By now you know that Super Bowl 50 was won by the Denver Broncos, whose crushing defense stopped the Carolina Panthers dead in their tracks. Congratulations to the Broncos, and all their fans. However, there was also another big game going on at the same time. Advertisers everywhere were betting millions of dollars to grab your attention. How did they do? Which ads came out on top, and which ones were losers? Here is the Advertising channel’s review of the hits, the misses, and the fumbles (not bad, but could have been better) of the 2016 Super Bowl ads. 

“Hyundai: First Date” RATING: HIT

Hyundai: First Date
Hyundai: First Date. YouTube

An ad is at its best when it is grounded in the product benefit. In this case, the Car Finder feature on the Hyundai Genesis. Kevin Hart shows this off best by letting the suitor of his daughter borrow the car. Then, the laughs come thick and fast as he stalks them on their date. It's a funny ad, and it did a great job of highlighting the car.  

“Mountain Dew Kickstart: #PuppyMonkeyBaby” RATING: MISS

#PuppyMonkeyBaby. YouTube

Argh. Everything about this screams “let’s be weird and cooky and get this thing trending!” It’s awful. The CGI isn’t very good. The script is weak. And let’s not forget, they’re supposed to be selling an energy drink. After a quick chug, the guys in the ad are hardly bursting with energy. They look ready to nap.   More

“Axe: Find Your Magic” RATING: HIT

Axe: Find Your Magic
Axe: Find Your Magic. YouTube

Sharp copy and great art direction, combined with a deceptively simple idea, make this effort from 72andSunny a top contender. Sure, we know it’s tongue in cheek. Women really do like chiseled guys with six packs and perfect hair. But it certainly empowers the average guy to think, “hey, maybe it’s my turn, if I work on myself a bit…and spray this stuff on.” 

“Heinz: Weiner Stampede” RATING: HIT

Heinz: Weiner Stampede
Heinz: Weiner Stampede. YouTube

Honestly, the idea of pitching this to a client – a bunch of dogs dressed as hot dogs, running to people dressed as condiments – is scary. What client would go for that? And wouldn’t it look silly and overly-cute? Well, cute is right. But anyone who isn’t smiling at the end of this is probably a heartless ice sculpture.  

“Hyundai: The Chase” RATING: FUMBLE

Hyundai: The Chase
Hyundai: The Chase. YouTube

Unlike the Genesis ad, this one falls a little flat. Talking bears? Is this the best way to tout a cheap car that responds to voice commands? Missed opportunity here. And the ending...groan.  

“Honda: A New Truck to Love” RATING: MISS

Honda: A New Truck to Love
Honda: A New Truck to Love. YouTube

There are few things more irritating in ads than singing animals and talking babies; especially when they’re rehashing a classic song by Queen. From the second the sheep starting crooning, most of the audience were groaning. Sure, a few sweet old ladies liked it, but they’re not the target audience for a Honda Ridgeline. And why does anyone need audio in the truck bed anyway? 

“Kia Optima: The Walken Closet” RATING: HIT

Kia Optima: The Walken Closet
Kia Optima: The Walken Closet. YouTube

OK, so it’s a pun. But it’s a great one that has never been done before. And, when you have an epic talent like Christopher Walken ready to tout your product, you already have a winner. The deadpan delivery is great. Plus, the ad does a great job of making the Kia look like a very slick car. 

“Amazon Echo: Baldwin Bowl” RATING: HIT

Amazon Echo: Baldwin Bowl
Amazon Echo: Baldwin Bowl. YouTube

Amazon doesn’t advertise all that often. It doesn’t have to. However, with a product like Echo, consumer education is key. What can it do? Why should I buy it? This great, star-studded spot does a great job of selling the product.  

“Budweiser: The Bud Light Party” RATING: MISS

Budweiser: The Bud Light Party
Budweiser: The Bud Light Party. YouTube

Flavor of the moment, Amy Schumer, and Seth Rogen, pander to the crowds with a bunch of whoopin’ and hollerin’ about beer. Hey, it’s election season, right? Why not ride those coattails in the most obvious way possible?

“Michelob Ultra: Breathe” RATING: MISS

Michelob Ultra: Breathe
Michelob Ultra: Breathe. YouTube

The selling proposition on the brief must have been “fitness fanatics deserve a low-calorie beer.” This is the whole ad. Puffing. Panting. Beer. Quite obvious, and dull. 

“Hyundai: Better” RATING: FUMBLE

Hyundai: Better
Hyundai: Better. YouTube

A glowing car engine embedded in a baby, who grows up to be a Hyundai car designer. All to get to the pun, “better is the engine that drives us.” Too on the nose.  

“Shock Top: Unfiltered Talk” RATING: MISS

Shock Top: Unfiltered Talk
Shock Top: Unfiltered Talk. YouTube

T.J.Miller in an ad about no-holds-barred insults? Yeah, bring it on. Sadly, it wasn’t brought. The idea is not a new one (Chipotle did the “honest ingredients” gag years ago), but it could have been really funny. It was just average. This could have been a golden opportunity to have a web component that shows how far these two really could have gone. 

“Pepsi: Joy of Pepsi” RATING: MISS

Pepsi: Joy of Pepsi
Pepsi: Joy of Pepsi. YouTube

Janelle Monáe dances around, going through 3 different eras of music. And then she drinks a Pepsi. That’s a whole lot of money and effort for nothing. Who cares? Oh, and if you’re going to hire a Grammy-winning singer, maybe have her sing instead of playing a bunch of old songs. A waste of talent. 

“Snickers: Marilyn” RATING: MISS

Snickers: Marilyn
Snickers: Marilyn. YouTube

Snickers, we get it. We really do. If you’re hungry, you act like a celebrity famous for being angry, or hostile, or in this case “Willem Dafoe cranky.” It was a terrific idea when the gag was new. Now, it’s beating a dead horse. We all know what’s coming. 

“Audi: Commander” RATING: HIT

Audi: Commander
Audi: Commander. YouTube

Someone was going to use David Bowie in an ad. It was inevitable. Thankfully, it was Audi, in a poignant spot that equates driving an Audi to being back in a rocket flying to the moon. Beautiful art direction, and the use of Starman was spot on.  

“Toyota Prius: Heck On Wheels” RATING: FUMBLE

Toyota Prius: Heck On Wheels
Toyota Prius: Heck On Wheels. YouTube

What do middle-of-the-road guys drive? And sing about? Apparently, it’s a Toyota Prius. Boring people everywhere, embrace your dull lives. Oh, and talking ducks. Ugh.  

“Mini USA: Defy Labels” RATING: FUMBLE

Mini USA: Defy Labels
Mini USA: Defy Labels. YouTube

A lot of talent here, including Harvey Keitel. Could have been great, but it lands way short of that. It’s not bad, but boy, the strategy is showing here.  

“Skittles: The Portrait” RATING: FUMBLE

Skittles: The Portrait
Skittles: The Portrait. YouTube

For a brand that tries to be so shocking (which is odd, who eats skittles anyway?), this one falls way short of the mark. A lot of star power for a damp squib. 

“ Kung Fu Panda” RATING: HIT Kung Fu Panda Kung Fu Panda. YouTube

OK, so it was a flagrant use of a huge franchise. But, if you get past that, it was actually well-executed and the script was funny. In particular, Po being on the back of Tigress in a parody of the Old Spice ads.  More

“T-Mobile: Drop The Balls” RATING: HIT

T-Mobile: Drop The Balls
T-Mobile: Drop The Balls. YouTube

A great way to hammer home the point, and done in a way that was both memorable and amusing. Jumping on the back of Steve Harvey’s huge flub at the Miss Universe contest, it was a great way to put T-Mobile ahead of the competition.  

“Taco Bell: Bigger Than…” RATING: HIT

Taco Bell: Bigger Than
Taco Bell: Bigger Than. YouTube

When the commercial starts, you think “ugh, this will suck.” Then, the Law Hawk lawyer crashes through the wall, and you realize you’re in for a real treat. This is classic Taco Bell madness. Even if it’s a tough claim to live up to.  

“Colgate: Every Drop Counts” RATING: HIT

Colgate: Every Drop Counts
Colgate: Every Drop Counts. YouTube

Be honest. When you saw it, you felt guilty. Everyone in America should have. Realizing that the clean water we simply let rush down the drain while we brush our teeth could keep people alive for a week, that’s humbling. Well done Colgate.   More

“Coca-Cola: Coke Mini” RATING: HIT

Coca-Cola: Coke Mini
Coca-Cola: Coke Mini. YouTube

What can you say about this? Coke got the actual Ant-Man and Hulk to fight it out over a Coke Mini. Considering how much time and money it costs to do the CGI on Hulk alone, this was not a cheap spot for Coke. But wow, did it look good.  

““Avocados From Mexico: Avos in Space” RATING: FUMBLE

Avocados From Mexico
Avocados From Mexico. YouTube

Weird aliens. A funky spaceship. Some dead-pan dialog. It all seems like it was an idea that was tacked onto a client brief at the last minute. But seeing Scott Baio in a cell, that was funny. 

“Doritos: Ultrasound” RATING: HIT

Doritos: Ultrasound
Doritos: Ultrasound. YouTube

 Continuing the tradition of highlighting homemade spots, this was the best of the bunch for Doritos. Yes, it’s kinda hacky, and the acting isn’t amazing. But the ending…everyone was laughing.  More

“Budweiser: #GiveADamn” RATING: HIT

Budweiser: #GiveADamn
Budweiser: #GiveADamn. YouTube

A nice break from the madness, jokes, and special effects. This is simply Helen Mirren, being herself, talking about the insanity that is drunk-driving. A great way for Budweiser to spend its hefty Super Bowl budget. 

“LG: Man From The Future” RATING: FUMBLE

LG: Man From The Future
LG: Man From The Future. YouTube

Liam Neeson is an incredible actor. The problem here is the script and the concept. It takes itself way too seriously. It’s a flat screen TV. A bit thinner than before. The picture is sharper. But come on, this is not going to change the world as we know it.  

“Mobile Strike: Arnold’s Fight” RATING: HIT

Mobile Strike: Arnold’s Fight
Mobile Strike: Arnold’s Fight. YouTube

Will this get a bunch of people to download a game “from de app stooore?” Probably. But the entertainment factor alone is enough to give this one a good grade. It’s Arnold, being very Arnie. A lot of fun.  More

29 #MovinOnUp” RATING: FUMBLE #MovinOnUp #MovinOnUp. YouTube

This could have been great. Jeff Goldblum. Lil Wayne. A piano being raised hundreds of feet above the city. A choir. A football game. All sounds good. But when it all came together…it was underwhelming. And btw, that’s one expensive apartment.  

Butterfinger: Bolder than Bold RATING: HIT

Butterfinger: Bolder than Bold
Butterfinger: Bolder than Bold. YouTube

How could this not be a hit? One of the funniest ads this year, and quite the spectacle. And when you have a guy jumping out of a plane, riding a bull, with the announcer saying “bolder than bolder than bolder than bold,” you have a winner.