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The 5 Best (And Worst) Superbowl Ads From XLIX

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It wouldn’t be the day after The Superbowl without a little obligatory ad talk. With each 30 second spot costing a reported $4.5 million (yes, million), there’s little doubt as to why we’re just as obsessed with the commercials as we are with the game itself.
 
After all, for that kind of money, we should be seeing the best ads that our nation’s media minds have to offer, right?
 
In some cases, yes. In other cases, not so much. Below I list the 5 best ads, the 5 worst ads, and 5 honorable mentions from yesterday’s game.
 
I based my decisions upon 3 criterion:
 

  1. The “feels”. It almost goes without saying – this is incredibly subjective. Obviously, a good ad will elicit an emotion of some kind (yes, this includes humor). So I paid attention to whether the emotion that was elicited seemed to fit given the context of the game.
  2.  

  3. The message. Was it a message that is timely and worth putting out into the world? And if it wasn’t, were the creators at least aware of that fact, and willing to offer something without playing off worn out tropes or outdated ideals?
  4.  

  5. Diversity. Some people may think this is an odd way to determine the success of a Superbowl ad, but it’s 2015, people. If you’re not willing to represent a diverse range of people, lifestyles, and backgrounds at one of the most highly watched televised events of the year, then you’re not doing your job.

 
 

The 5 Best Commercials

 

#5. Dodge – Wisdom


 
Car commercials are often a stretch for me; I rarely experience them providing an actual connection between the message they’re presenting and the car they’re selling. In this case, however, I thought Dodge nailed it. I found myself smiling the whole way through. It honors the wisdom, vitality, and history of several people from (as far as I can tell) all walks of life. And the tagline at the end brings it all together.

 

#4. Coca Cola – Download Happiness


 
A little cliche? Sure. But, this is just a feel-good ad. No way around it. The world is what we make it.

 

#3. Loctite Glue – Positive Feelings


 
I, presumably like many other people, had never heard of Loctite Glue…until yesterday. They killed it with this simple, funny, 30 second spot and captured the world’s attention. This is a Superbowl ad success. Their stripped down, all white background stood out against the noise of every other commercial, and of course, who doesn’t enjoy a good fanny-pack dance?
 

#2. BMW – Newfangled Idea


 
Yes, yes, and yes. This is what I want from an ad. Smart, nostalgic, and funny. I actually found myself saying, “Well played, BMW” at the end of this spot. The call-back to the beginning of the internet isn’t only timely, it’s a stroke of genius. Who didn’t enjoy being reminded that only 21 years ago no one knew how to pronounce the “@” symbol?

 

#1. Always – Like A Girl


 
There’s not a whole lot I can say about this that the ad doesn’t say for itself. Technically, this ad first aired months before the Superbowl. But there it was yesterday, front and center in the minds of every person watching the game. The fact that this spot aired during the Superbowl is a huge step forward in changing the mainstream media’s ideas (subconscious or otherwise) around gender identity and stereotypes. It’s got the “feels”, the message, and the diversity turned up to 11. #likeagirl

 
 

The 5 Worst Commercials

 

#5. Nissan – With Dad


 
This one isn’t as terrible as some of the others. But this is a perfect example of a car commercial trying to make an emotional connection, only to fail. The message is strange to me. As my friend wrote on Twitter, “Don’t become a dad until you achieve your personal goals. –@Nissan”. And it kind of comes off that way. If this were a Dos Equis commercial, it would say, “I don’t always pick you up from school, but when I do, I do it in a Nissan.”

 

#4. Chevy – You Know You Want A Truck


 
Another car commercial (and there’s still one more to come). I’ll be honest: I’m probably not incredibly objective with this one. It just kinda’ struck me the wrong way. But as it relates to media, this is a perfect example of perpetuating ridiculous gender stereotypes. We’re meant to believe that in this focus group every person who saw a man with a truck thought he was more of a “man”. It leads the viewer to feel that there are only two types of men (those who drive trucks and those who don’t), and one type of woman (the kind that loves a man in a truck). There are a lot of people who don’t really care one way or another. And if the kind of vehicle a person drives determines how you think about them, you need to get out more.

 

#3. Fiat – Pill


 
Just…can we please stop equating cars to penises? Thanks.

 

#2. Game of War – Who I Am


 
I know sex sells. But, really? To end this ad with the phrase, “Do you want to come and play?” is just laughable. Perhaps that’s the idea. But c’mon GOW, we can do better.
 

#1. Nationwide Insurance – The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up


 
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet since yesterday, you’ve probably already seen this horribly depressing ad from Nationwide. Now, let me clarify, I’m all for having a conversation about accident protection and keeping kids safe. I love kids. I don’t want them to die. But…REALLY?! Wrong time. Wrong place. It was like a train crashed through the living room when this thing hit. Not cool Nationwide. Not cool. (Note: to be fair, it wasn’t all failure for Nationwide. They did also have an ad starring Mindy Kaling that was pretty funny. Watch it here.)

 
 

Honorable Mentions

 

There were several commercials that were great, but didn’t make my top 5. From the heart-string tugging Budweiser puppies to the creativity of Skittles’ “The Normal Way,” these honorable mentions were well produced, often innovative, and did exactly what they were supposed to. The squarespace ad starring Jeff Bridges got me to visit their website immediately. In most cases, however, there were some elements that were either problematic, or just didn’t quite stand out. You can watch them below:
 

#5. Jeep – 2015 Renegade

 

#4. Skittles – Settle It

 

#3. Microsoft – Empowering Us All

 

#2. Squarespace – OHM

 

#1. Budweiser – Lost Dog

 
Which of my listings do you agree with? Which ones do you find completely wrong? Any I forgot? Mention them in the comments below!

AUTHOR - Justin Dye

@justindye - I am Circle Five Media's Founder and Creative Director. I'm an artist, entrepreneur, connoisseur of bottom-shelf whiskey, and collector of great stories.

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