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The Big Game’s Winners & Losers (Ads, That Is)

The Super Bowl: time for the league’s two best teams to show off their physical agility and mental acumen in hopes of becoming the next shining star in the NFL universe. And unless you’ve been living on an uninhabited, undiscovered planet, you know this also is the time for advertisers to show off their best and brightest ideas—at $5 million for a 30-second spot. Some worked. Some didn’t.
Here are some that did:

  • Mountain Dew Kickstart—The puppy-monkey-baby is perhaps the creepiest thing ever to grace my television—and I say this as a huge fan of “The Walking Dead.” However, this one got the most response from our group. “Memorable” barely begins to describe this spot.
  • Intuit: Death Wish Coffee— I think it’s great Intuit used their resources to promote a small business that wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to get their product seen on a national level.
  • Heinz—This one drew the attention of the kids. Wiener dogs dressed as wieners was a huge hit in our house.
  • Doritos—Once again, Doritos turned to the general public for a commercial, and once again, the general public knocked it out of the park with the “Ultrasound” spot.
  • Pokémon 20th Anniversary—This made me realize the first generation of Pokémon fans are now old enough to have kids of their own who’ll become fans. This is more of a “thank you” to a generation rather than a promotion—and definitely one of the more memorable spots.
  • Budweiser—Well said, Helen Mirren.

And now those spots that didn’t quite make it:

  • Pretty much every car commercial—Mary, my wife, pointed out that they’re rehashing tired ideas, most notably the talking animals. Odell Beckham Jr.’s Buick spot went right over her head while the space-aged Hyundai Genesis spot was just too confusing. I will give a nod to Audi for using David Bowie’s “Starman.”
  • Snickers—Their spots have been so good for so long, a clunker from them was bound to happen. I felt it was not close to “The Brady Bunch” spot from last year with Danny Trejo and Steve Buschemi. Nothing against Marilyn or Willem Dafoe, but this year’s spot just came off as forced.
  • Shock Top and Marmot—In both cases, the teasers were much better than the actual ad.
  • Bai, Persil and SoFi—More rookies that didn’t stand out.

For me personally, the spot that hit closest to home was the NFL’s “Super Bowl Baby” spot. This one got me thinking, and after doing the math, I’ve determined there’s a 99% chance that term applies to me. Thanks, NFL. I’m sure I’ll never see Super Bowl III the same way again.

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