The Best Super Bowl Ads

With prices averaging $5 million for 30-seconds, plenty of national advertisers ponied up for the chance to connect with an audience that brings an otherwise elusive motivation to “engage” with commercials and brands. Given the stakes, most of the ads are the showpiece of much bigger, integrated campaigns. To win the Super Bowl, brands will have to hit simultaneous home runs across paid, owned and earned media. This year was mostly about the celebrities who guarantee attention and offer built-in social impressions. There were no “sadvertisements” to be seen, unlike last year. Given the star power in so many ads, it’ll be interesting to see which halos critics and social media think shone brightest and how the brands spin the resulting buzz. See below for some of the Marketing Club’s favorites.

  • Prof. Patti Williams


Adobe: “The Gambler”

What’s better than getting a Super Bowl bump for your brand? Enjoying that same bump without shelling out $5 million for a 30-second spot. A growing number of advertisers are crashing the Super Bowl through digital campaigns that harness the event’s marketing energy. One of this year’s best comes from Adobe, which highlights its Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions with an online spot featuring a gambler nervously watching the big game. But it’s not the game he’s gambling on – it’s the ludicrous Caribbean-themed cream cheese commercial he commissioned. It’s a funny spot that sends a clear message: If your marketing isn’t driven by data, it’s just a gamble. And the digital distribution helps Adobe reach its target audience of marketing decision-makers without breaking the bank.

  • Andrew Eder WG ’16


Death Wish Coffee (via Intuit): “Storm’s A-Brewing”

The Wharton takeaway from Intuit’s “Small Business Big Game” competition is that marketing better keep the operations folks on speed dial. In 2014, when indie toymaker Goldieblox won its all expenses-paid Super Bowl commercial, the company’s supply chain was crippled by over-demand, stock-outs, and product recalls. Can the 11-person Death Wish Coffee (from my hometown of Saratoga, N.Y.) avoid the same fate? Sure, the Vikings-and-adrenaline-drenched spot does a killer job of communicating the brand’s point of differentiation (“fiercely caffeinated”), but a lot would have to change for the tiny business to reach the founder’s stated goal of national shelf space in Target. Let’s be real… Intuit scored the touchdown; Death Wish only won the coin toss.

  • Tiffany Petrosino, WG ’16


Bud Light: “The Bud Light Party”

It’s no surprise that AB InBev has been losing out to craft beer lately, with sales of Bud Light dropping, but “The Bud Light Party” proved that ABI has one thing these smaller competitors don’t – cash money. Sunday’s 60-second spot featured Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen, who successfully brought beer into the political conversation. It was a fun, comedic take on the intense election season, communicating beer’s ability to bring people together, from factory workers to sports fans and farmers in the middle of nowhere, USA. It was star-studded yet unpretentious, and illustrated how brands can successfully capitalize on pop culture to remain relevant. Plus, they found a way to subtly tie in Bill Pullman’s monologue from “Independence Day” — we’ll drink to that.

  • Alex Hendricks WG ’17


Heinz: “Wiener Stampede”

Dachshunds dressed as hot dogs, slow-motion shots of little legs running, and a sentimental throwback soundtrack: Heinz stepped up on Sunday to deliver the cuteness overload Super Bowl viewers were craving. The simplicity of the “Meet the Ketchups” tagline and corresponding visual cues – e.g. the Heinz condiment family literally forming a welcome line – also stood out in an evening full of celebrity cameos and witty references. While Heinz won’t win any awards for groundbreaking creativity with this ad, it grabbed our attention, linked fun and great taste to the Heinz brand, and encouraged us to try new products. Sometimes a simple tried and true approach can be the most compelling, especially when you’re selling ketchup.

  • Jesse Ge, WG ’17


Acura: “What He Said”

Carmakers like to use the Super Bowl to make a statement. In Acura’s case, that statement is made via the blaring, primal screams of David Lee Roth. As the camera spotlights specific features of Acura’s new flagship sports coupe—the admittedly gorgeous NSX—the soundtrack builds to a crescendo of Roth’s WOOOs and YEEAAAs mixed with the thunderous wail of a revving engine. The message is simple: this car is so beautiful and so fast that it will make you yell with joy. So mosey on down to your local Acura dealer to access your inner Van Halen badass.

  • Jake Letson, WG ’17

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