Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl LI halftime show may have been powerful, but the ads certainly weren’t this year. Unfortunately, several of the Super Bowl’s most reliably funny advertisers pulled their spots. Others, used their expensive sliver of time to tackle political issues. Still, there were a few ads that kept us in our seats during the break.
You may recall that last year Bai had controversial, borderline offensive ad during the Super Bowl. But, like the New England Patriots, they made a comeback. Christopher Walken dramatically recited the lyrics to *NSYNC’s early 2000s pop hit “Bye Bye Bye”, then the camera pans to a silent Justin Timberlake. This ad reminded us that, often, less is more. And, that using Christopher Walken is always brilliant.
Best Social Conversation
Every year, you can expect something great from Budweiser. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it pulls at your heartstrings. Sometimes Anheuser-Busch tackles tough issues. This year, their ad showed immigrant Adolphus Busch seeking the American dream. It was well-timed to our political conversation and got everyone talking. AB InBev reportedly invested near-record levels on the production and it definitely showed.
Coke, Airbnb and Google were also among the big companies using those precious ad dollars to market love, acceptance and inclusion instead of just themselves.
Production value. Excitement. A storyline stretched over two parts. These are the makings of a great Super Bowl commercial. Wix.com scored a touchdown with their Super Bowl debut. You couldn’t look away from this action-packed ad that felt like a movie trailer. This ad was also the pre-game winner, accumulating more digital views (22,639,830) than any other Super Bowl ad.
Best Production Value
By default, we have to give this to Snickers because they did something incredibly risky: they shot their commercial live. The ad concept itself was a little lackluster- a wild west scene where everything went wrong. But there were some nice touches like including the game score in the ad to prove that it was really live and running teasers for the live ad so viewers didn’t leave their seats. We also loved how they tied in social media, taking to Twitter to apologize for the ad going awry.
Best Use of Humor
TurboTax managed to create a smart and funny ad by bringing back an old childhood story: Humpty Dumpty. Before the Super Bowl, Turbo Tax had another winning commercial showing just how Humpty Dumpty had such a great fall. Obviously, he was doing his taxes on the TurboTax app. During the Super Bowl ads, we find Humpty Dumpty in the hospital needing to ask questions about writing-off his medical bills and lawyer bills. We love the idea of having the multi-part commercial before and during the big game. We also love how well this ad tied in the TurboTax product. Often, Super Bowl commercials get so wrapped up in being over-the-top that they forget to make themselves the star. This commercial balances humor, production value and messaging perfectly.
We also have to give an honorable mention to KIA, Aflac and T-Mobile for having very funny commercials.