In no particular order, here are the best big game ads in the opinion of our board members:
Paige Meckler – Budweiser “Stand By You”
I’m a sucker for heart-wrenching commercials every year. I like that their spot doesn’t feature beer. Instead, it was about water. Specifically, the ad highlights the company’s disaster relief efforts. In my opinion, Budweiser can do no wrong. A+!
Tim Bouchard – P&G (Tide) “Every Ad is a Tide Ad”
I’m a sucker for clever ideas. I also love when jokes span across multiple jokes, in this case multiple commercials. The real reason I thought this campaign (yes campaign, not just commercial) was top notch was the main point wasn’t the joke, it was the value proposition that in almost every profession, every industry, every commercial there is a need for cleanliness and tidy clothing. This angle gave them legs so they could play with the audience and entertain them by having a spot during each of the four quarters. It was just plain fun.
Greg Pokriki – Amazon “Alexa Loses Her Voice”
The Alexa ad combined starpower and humor in a really creative way. It subtly showed you Alexa’s capabilities while being self-deprecating and self-aware. They managed to humanize a somewhat robotic voice and sometimes faceless, huge corporation. They’ve also followed up on it, encouraging users to ask Alexa to do her Gordon Ramsay impression. I shhh’d someone out loud at my Super Bowl party during this ad, so you know it was worth watching.
PS: My least favorite ad was probably the 15 seconds of a black, blank screen. They just didn’t get the message across.
Ally Balcerzak – Budweiser “Stand By You”
I’m not a fan of the beer, but Budweiser’s ads usually make my top five favorites and this year is no different. The company tactfully placed the spotlight on a major philanthropic initiative that has had a positive impact on millions of people this year alone. Pairing a Skylar Grey cover of Stand By You with visuals of the line flipping from beer to water says everything they wanted to without seeming boastful. This ad is a perfect example of the power of “show, don’t tell.”
Brittany Klotzbach – Febreeze “Bleep Don’t Stink”
Although there are so many different advertising tactics to get the viewers attention, the commercials that usually have the biggest impact on me during the Super Bowl are the comical ones. This ad made me laugh with its light-hearted humor and proud parents for not having a smelly child. I think this 30-second ad served its purpose, and there’s even a catchy hashtag that I would guess the company will build off of in upcoming advertisements.
Grace de Rosa – P&G (Tide) “Every Ad is a Tide Ad”
Definitely the winner of the Superbowl commercials for me. Just one second when you think it’s just another typical car commercial or Budweiser horse, David Harbour breaks the fourth wall. As the game went on, I began to think that every commercial he was going to pop out wearing impeccably clean clothes. In that way, they made every commercial come back to them – genius. Also, throwing Hopper into anything is a win for me.
Dan Nesselbush – E*Trade “This is Getting Really Old”
While I enjoyed the Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” ad for validating my conspiracy theory that they are listening to my every move with that device. I respect the incredibly deep pockets of Procter & Gamble and their Tide campaign with an endless selection of Tide ads to choose from, many related to various P&G brands. My favorite ad of the night came from E*Trade with “This is Getting Really Old.” I thought the idea and execution was creative and humorous without using the crutch of celebrity appearances. Plus it did what an ad is supposed to do, get me thinking about how their service relates to me – yes, I’d like to find ways to retire by the time I’m 85.
Jenna Hutzler – NFL “Touchdown Celebrations to Come”
Humor in design is a tall order. So many things can go wrong but the NFL ad was genuine, light-hearted and was the perfect comedic relief in a sea of ads that felt like they were trying too hard this year (“Dilly, Dilly” has lost its momentum for me). I was watching with more than a few people who did not understand the Dirty Dancing reference and it was still well received. The movements OBJ and Eli Manning were the perfect amount of awkward but they nailed the jump at the end. It also supplemented nicely a year of carefully curated end-zone celebrations!
Andrew Bevevino – Squarespace – “Make It Happen”
This is probably a dark-horse pick, but my favorite ad of this year’s Super Bowl was the Squarespace ad with Keanu Reeves. Typically, I’m looking for a Super Bowl commercial to make me laugh. The spots that have long, serious voiceovers are lost on me, probably because I’ve seen so many of them over the years. I also don’t love the corporate social responsibility-themed ads, because they always seem a bit contrived. So, this Squarespace ad was right in the sweet spot for me. It was short, memorable and funny. I’m also a big Keanu Reeves fan, so I’m sure that helped Squarespace’s cause, at least as far as I’m concerned.
April Brown – Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice”
Amazon’s “Alexa Lost her Voice” ad is Super Bowl commercial gold. It does a great job of showing off how people are using Alexa, but also brings a creative twist to the sheer terror that could ensure for all avid Alexa users if she really did lose her voice. Ending it with Anthony Hopkins had me nearly in tears.
I also thought Tide did an incredible job of putting their spot together in way that leaves you guessing (and laughing) until the very end. And while Tide is getting a lot of praise for that, I think Tourism Australia deserves some too. Their spot with Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride had our entire party up in arms about a remake of Crocodile Dundee–only to find out that it’s not actually happening, Tourism Australia just wants you to visit. I think the “element of surprise” strategy is really smart and especially effective when you have over 100 million people tuning in.
Josh Gumulak – “Doritos Blaze vs. Mtn. Dew Ice”
This ad has everything you could possibly ask for in a fun Super Bowl spot. Two superstar actors rapping a couple classic verses from Busta Rhymes’ “Look At Me Now” and Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”? Check. Shameless and entertaining product plugs? Yup. Catchy hashtags? Sure. A double entendre shoutout to Game of Thrones’ Fire and Ice? Definitely. It may not have been the most socially focused ad of the night, but it wasn’t meant to be. It was meant to be a good time, and it certainly followed through.
Lauren Carmer – Verizon’s “Answering the Call”
Humorous commercials have played well in past years. And while I can’t get that Doritos vs. Mountain Dew lip sync battle out of my head, Verizon’s spot is sticking with me in a different sense. Several major brands appealed to the heart instead of the funny bone. Some missed the mark, sounding disingenuous in an attempt to be trendy. But spots like Verizon’s and Budweiser’s warmed my cold, shriveled heart with stories of people helping people. Verizon took it a step further, developing a corresponding website where visitors can listen to more thank you messages, share their own stories, or donate to the American Red Cross. I like how Verizon used this public stage to of course sell you something but also make a greater impact.
Kyle Rogers – Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice”
I hate to jump on the bandwagon but I can’t in good conscience vote for anything other than this 90 second piece of marketing brilliance. Aside from just generally being the funniest ad out there, Amazon brought together a collection of celebrities that span and connect with different demographics. I also appreciate the foresight to eliminate a potential PR issue with the altering of the Alexa’s name to prevent all of our respective echoes from responding to the ad. This was Amazon’s first Super Bowl commercial and I’m glad they took advantage of the opportunity to put Jeff Bezos out there. For many, this was the first time seeing his face and his visibility will go a long way to humanizing a company whose technology and vast stores of data can be frightening and concerning for a lot of people.