February 7, 2017

Hits and Misses—A Look at the Super Bowl Ads

What’s that? It’s been a full three and a half minutes since you’ve heard an advertising exec waxing philosophical about the Super Bowl commercials? Let me quickly fill that void with THE* definitive list of hits and misses for 2017.
Skittles “Romance”

A tip of the hat goes to Skittles for providing one of the most laugh-out-loud-funny spots of the night. When marketing to a cross-generational group of 120 million or so, it’s good to remember that sometimes a Super Bowl ad should be just plain fun—and Skittles delivered on this.

It’s a 10 Hair Care “Four More Years”

It’s no surprise that several advertisers presented spots that commented on the current state of our nation—84 Lumber, AirBNB, Turkish Airlines and Coke, to name a few. But only one chose to do so with humor. A successful first-time Super Bowl advertiser zigged where the others zagged. And it worked on every level.

Audi “Daughter”

Maybe it’s because I have a 10-year-old daughter. Or maybe it’s because Audi decided to put its values on display in front of 120 million people. Either way, it’s hard to nail a message spot. But Audi picked its moment and made it look easy. In advertising, that’s about the best compliment you can give.

Honda CRV “Yearbooks”

A lot of brands used celebrities in their Super Bowl spots, but perhaps none more effectively than Honda. Back-in-the-day images of celebs provided a simple premise that required complex execution. The unique spot drew you in from the first moment and held your attention all the way through. That’s everything you hope for in a Super Bowl ad.

Mr. Clean “Cleaner of Your Dreams”

When the task is to rejuvenate and contemporize a brand that desperately needs it, you need to overreach. That’s exactly what this spot did, with playful and engaging storytelling.

So what didn’t work? I’m glad you asked.

WeatherTech “Tech Team”

Who doesn’t love All-American WeatherTech? But I hate it when a good company unnecessarily goes over the top with its advertising. This ad exaggerates what the company does and what its product means to people. And what’s with all the action sequences? It’s a floor mat, not an action flick. Which leads me to…

Wix.com “Chez Feliz”

What do Jason Statham, Gal Gadot and an exploding restaurant have to do with an online website building company? Nothing. Which is why this spot seemed to be a waste of money and talent.


KFC “Colonel vs. Colonel”

Sprite “#WannaSprite”

I love what KFC is doing with its advertising. It’s genius. The Super Bowl spot was not. It was a successful product launch that will undoubtedly have legs, but it needed more. And the Sprite ad underwhelmed in its message and use of celebrity. The moral of the story: If you’re going to drop a cool $5 million on a Super Bowl ad, be sure to get your money’s worth.

Persil “The Science of Clean”

Even with Bill Nye the Science Guy, the ad was boring, especially compared to the excellent spots Tide ran throughout the Super Bowl. That’s two years in a row for Persil on the snooze list.

*According to my mom. Thanks, Mom.

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