AAF Asks: What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial?

If there was ever a year for the commercials to completely steal the show away from the actual football game, it was this 13-3 snooze-fest in which America’s least favorite team triumphed and pretended to be the counted-out underdogs along the way. However, did the ads capitalize on a boring game? Consensus seems to be no, although there were a few bright spots.

We asked our board, what was your favorite Super Bowl ad? We need any silver-lining we can get.

And as always, Go Bills.

Google, Veterans Ad – Paige Meckler

The second of Google’s Super Bowl ads opened with a series of codes. A voice-over explains that while these codes “don’t mean anything” to most viewers, 7 percent are intimately familiar with them – and those 7 percent are soldiers and marines. The company is promoting a relatively new search feature that’s specifically designed to make it easier for veterans to find civilian jobs related to what they did in the military. I loved this ad because it created a connection with its target audience in a language only they’d understand.

Doritos, Chance the Rapper x Backstreet Boys – Megan Sweeney

  1. Love spicy things
  2. Love Cheese
  3. Nick Carter

It was the collab I never knew I wanted but now I can’t live without: Food and male singers.

Washington Post, Democracy Dies in Darkness – Greg Pokriki

The message and selflessness of this ad struck me on first viewing, and its impact seems to be resonating the day after on social media. It wasn’t a WaPo ad, but an ad for the profession– the fourth estate as a whole. As a writer and comms/journalism major, I’m biased, but in a night of boring ads and an even more boring game, I thought this spot stole the show.

Google, Veterans Ad – Caitlin Higman

Overall, I was not impressed with the majority of ads this year! Much like the game, there weren’t very many stand-out moments for me. However, Google’s Veterans ad was one of the few I remember for all the right reasons. First, I think it was extremely smart placement for the target audience. Second, I love when an ad connects with folks outside the target audience and moves beyond a traditional “feel good” ad to raise awareness of a service and not just a brand. The Veteran’s ad caught my attention, held my attention and made me feel something!

Microsoft, We All Win – Lauren Carmer

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but this one got me right in the feels. This commercial had several things going for it, including user testimonials, inclusivity without feeling inauthentic, putting a human face to technology, and a killer final line. Best of all, it reinforced the power of storytelling and a brand’s ability to empathize with its audience.

Doritos, Chance the Rapper x Backstreet Boys – Ally Ruiz Balcerzak

Nostalgia always goes over well for me, especially if it involves music. In a sea of robots and emotional ads, this one was just light-hearted enough to make me laugh and then dance in my seat. Only way it could have been better was if it included NSYNC instead of BSB — but that’s a completely biased opinion.

Audi, Cashew – Casey Kelly

I started off thinking “oh great, another overly heartwarming corporate commercial”, only to find out that someone was choking on a nut. This plot twist is just what a Super Bowl ad needs these days. Props to Audi for being funny in a space where all jokes are relatively played out and ads are often cheesy and overdone.

Sketchers, Big Game “Easy” Ad – Alex Keogan

Super Bowl commercials can be funny, weird, or pull at the heart strings, but my favorite ones are the companies that think a celebrity fits the profile of their business. The commercial has a bunch of fanciful ideas and far fetched ploys on making life easy. The most far fetched is the notion that Tony Romo, who was arguably the MVP of the game with his color commentary, has ever been caught dead in a pair of Sketchers.

Game of Thrones, Bud Light, Joust/RIP Bud Knight – Tim Bouchard

As “easy” as this one seems to pick, that’s why I’m picking it. It packs the largest spender along with the biggest pop-culture reference of all of the commercials. It had a surprise twist in the death of the knight, which has us all wondering if that’s permanent or not. As a fan of GoT it got a rise out of me. As a plus at least it didn’t mention corn syrup. Ads in close seconds would be the NFL100 and Kia Great Unknowns spots.

Game of Thrones, Bud Light, Joust/RIP Bud Knight – Josh Gumulak

What an ad! There’s so much to unpack here. Is the Bud Kingdom officially done? Was this the plan all along since “Dilly Dilly’s” creation in 2017? (There wasn’t a live episode of GoT in that timespan.) Where is Bud Castle in Westeros? Does Drogon wish Bud Light used corn syrup that badly? So few answers.

The real life logistics are incredible themselves: In an era where Super Bowl ads are released days ahead of time, one that featured two immensely popular national brands was kept completely silent. Two of the most competitive global agencies collaborated, Wieden + Kennedy (Bud Light) and Droga5 (HBO). The production value was sky-high, a portion of which was directed by David Nutter, who directed the infamous “Red Wedding.” I’m a sucker for planning and execution working together flawlessly, there was no better example of this last night than this spot.