Well, one of the biggest nights in sports has come and gone, and millions tuned in to see the competition. For many, the battle between the goal lines is not as interesting as the battle for the best commercials. I’ve been busy, so I did not get to do a pre-evaulation of this years entries, but I did get to see a few in advance, and was excited to see all the advertisers face off on the big night.
One thing that I must note. As I’m sure everyone is aware by now, there was a power outage during the Super Bowl. I have checked various places on the Internet in an effort to see those ads which did not air during the broadcast, but I keep hearing of more and more. Also, there seem to be ones that only aired in certain markets, or did not air for me because I am a DirecTV subscriber. Therefore, my choices for my favorites are based only on those that aired nationwide, and I have not included any that I did not see as part of the event. This way, I won’t miss one or more that I might otherwise include on this list.
Best Commercial Overall:Budweiser Clydesdales, Brotherhood (also called in some places Reunion) – Hands down, this is my favorite. It is a touching story, and definitely tugs at our heartstrings. If you have enjoyed the Clydesdale commercials over the years, you may be interested in this video that shows behind the scenes footage from the trainers that spans several years. Runner up: Jeep/USO, America Will Be Whole Again – This was a wonderful spot honoring all of our soldiers serving overseas and their families, and Oprah was a perfect choice for narrator. Honorable mention: Tide, Miracle Stain – Looking at the strictly funny ones, this one is the best, particularly the end. If you liked that one, check out this special “infomercial” that Tide made as a teaser for this ad.
Best Car Commercial: Mercedes-Benz, Soul – This has it all. Celebrity appearances, fantasy fulfillment moments, and a nice special effect at the end. On top of all that, the “hero” defeats the devil. The spot tells a story while also telling the bottom line. Can’t ask for much more than that in a commercial. Runner up: Ram Trucks, God Made A Farmer – Paul Harvey was an American institution, and one of the most beloved radio broadcasters of all time. It is only fitting that his words about the American farmer be used for this wonderful spot. This is a time when our country needs to come together, and farmers are very important to our cultural identity. Honorable mention: Toyota, Wish Granted – I love The Big Bang Theory and when I heard that Kaley Cuoco had made her first Super Bowl ad, I knew it would be great. Some folks will likely see this as the best car commercial, but I think the extra celebrities give the Mercedes-Benz ad the edge. All three of these ads were very well done.
Best Food/Beverage Commercial: Oreo, Whisper Fight – This spot was so good in so many ways. Making a library the location for all this wonderfully fun mayhem was sheer genius. Runner up: Bud Light, Journey – I’m honoring both of these ads together. The first one was very nice, with the voodoo dolls, but then the next one, with the guys taking the “lucky chair” to the voodoo place, that was just too funny. Honorable mention: Milk, Morning Run – If this is a typical morning at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s house, that’s pretty insane. We laugh at the fact that he will not stop in his quest to get milk, even for ladies in distress and kittens in trees, but let’s face it – they got the point across with this ad, which is the importance of milk.
Best Interactive Commercial: Coca-Cola, Mirage – This is a new category for me this year, and there are very few that would actually fit into this category. I suppose you could say that I’m cheating, but I definitely wanted to recognize Coca-Cola for this great promotion. Voters were not only allowed to vote online for either the showgirls, cowboys, or badlanders to win the race to the Coke, but after voting, you could also sabotage the competition. They actually made five different “diversions” for each group, and each one held up the group for a given number of seconds, allowing the others to gain time. Domino’s was also involved with this campaign, as one sabotage for each group involved a pizza delivery. This whole concept is one of the best I have seen in recent years. I can’t guarantee that the page for this is still active, but you can try CokeChase.com to see if you can still see the videos of the sabotages for each group. Runner up: Lincoln, MKZ, Once Upon A Tweet – Lincoln ran a contest asking people to use Twitter to tweet their “open road” stories, and then the top stories were combined into this commercial. The tweeters were able to participate in bringing their stories to life, and while I like the annual Doritos contest for fan-made ads, I think this is a new wrinkle that makes things a bit more interesting. Not to mention that all of the stories coming together makes it unique. While I’m not making it a separate category this year, this commercial had my favorite celebrity appearance, seeing Wil Wheaton as the “director” in the spot. Honorable mention: Under the Dome – The brief ad for the upcoming CBS mini-series was only average, but the website gives a surprise. If you visit the site shown in the spot, UnderTheDome.com, you can input an address and the site will use Google Earth to put that location “under the dome” as if it is the location from the best-selling Stephen King novel.
There are a few others worth mentioning. Other than the in the Budweiser Clydesdales ad, there was not a standout animal appearance this year. However, I did enjoy the Kia Space Babies ad. The babies, both human and animal, made for an overload of cuteness.
Of course, CBS had several promotional spots, but the funniest by far was the one for The Big Bang Theory. Having the cast come out in football uniforms, but having Sheldon be the one to tell Leonard he put his on wrong was just classic. I also liked the overall ad for the network’s prime time lineup. The perfect clips were chosen for each show that proclaim their individuality as a series, and reminds us all why those shows are so enjoyable.
NFL football also had a number of time slots reserved for various spots, and one definitely got my attention. The one for NFLEvolution.com that showed the evolution of the sport from just guys running around in the mud through the years and the many changes to the sport we see now was very well done. I applaud the efforts of these folks to make this sport safer. The NFL Network brought laughs in their spot, with the “Leon Sandcastle” ad where former football (and baseball) player Deion Sanders took his alter ego back to the sport and worked his way to being the number one draft pick.
Films were a bit under represented this year. Six movie trailers were scheduled to be shown, however either due to the power failure or some other problem, The Lone Ranger spot did not air during the broadcast. The other trailers were all pretty much what you’d expect for these films: Star Trek Into Darkness, Oz: The Great and Powerful, The Fast and the Furious 6, Iron Man 3, and World War Z all gave us a taste of what we will see in the theaters this coming year. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing most of these films already, so no convert here. However, I was a bit disappointed with the folks at Disney/Marvel for choosing to air what amounted to a tease for Iron Man 3. Viewers had to use the Internet to see the whole trailer. For those who have not yet seen it, here is the extended version.
Most of the rest of the ads were simply average, but some do deserve being mentioned as the worst of the bunch. By far, I believe the worst commercial of the Super Bowl was GoDaddy, The Kiss. The concept was stupid, and watching and hearing the kiss was just torture. There was simply no purpose and it was generally revolting. GoDaddy ads have declined in recent years. Another company that disappointed me was Volkswagen. Normally, I would say that the ad was just average, but after last year’s entry, this commercial seemed like a total waste. I don’t agree that it was racist as some have claimed, but I just think it was meaningless and dull, and I have come to expect more from this company. I have to say the same about E*Trade, as they have overused the baby and the ads are simply no longer funny.
That sums up this year’s Super Bowl commercials. Overall, I think they were weaker than last year, but there were some wonderful spots. With the trend being towards more ads that make use of the Internet and smart devices, I think this is a constantly changing industry, and that some companies are struggling to compete. Here’s hoping that next year’s entries will fare better.