Super Bowl Ad Review 2014

This past weekend’s Super Bowl was the most watched event in television history, with over 112 million viewers tuning in!  With the growing popularity of the NFL and a match-up of the two #1 seeds, there was a lot of talk about how good of a match-up it would be.  Well, the game itself didn’t pan out (for the Broncos at least), but the viewership numbers certainly eased the minds of the marketing teams that spent a good penny to advertise during the game.

Here are my personal favorites from the game, with a few comments for each, along with a few additional ads towards the end – two that I didn’t like and two that caught my attention well before kickoff of the Super Bowl.

#6 – Turbo Tax, “Love Hurts”

As soon as John C. Reilly’s voiceover hit, I/you knew that the ad was for Turbo Tax, assuming you were familiar with the prior ads that featured the actor’s voice.  I loved this ad from a humor and content standpoint.  It meshed extremely well with the Super Bowl itself.  However, the branding on the ad was terrible, though I’m not even sure where it would have been possible before Turbo Tax was finally mentioned 45 seconds into the 60 second commercial.  Great ad, not so great branding.

#5 – Doritos, “Time Machine”

This was the best 30 second commercial of the game in my opinion.  First, I thought it was pretty funny.  Second, the ad was strong from a branding perspective from beginning to end.  I’m not sure what level of intent there was to feature Doritos’ Spicy Nacho SKU, but any bag really would have worked in this spot.

#4 – Toyota Highlander, “Big Game” starring Terry Crews & The Muppets

This was a build off of the previously launched teaser ad from earlier in the week.  I have to say, had I not seen or known about the teaser ad, this probably would have been rated higher.  Again, just a personal preference on enjoying the surprise element come Super Bowl Sunday vs. seeing the ad for at least a week prior.  There was decent branding in this ad, with the Muppets mentioning the car itself and several close enough images of the Highlander written on the back of the car and several Toyota logo images.

#3 – Chevy Silverado, “Romance”

The ad above was funnier than the Toyota Highlander commercial and again, the element of surprise by not seeing this ad prior to the game, helped this Chevy Silverado spot land at #3 on the list.  The Chevy logo is showed early and relatively often in the ad, but “Chevy Silverado” itself isn’t mentioned until the last 5 seconds of the 60 second spot.  If you aren’t aware or aren’t looking for the Chevy logo, you have no idea who this ad is for until the very end.

#2 – Budweiser, “A Hero’s Welcome” & “Puppy Love”

Admittedly, we’re cheating a little bit here.  Budweiser throws out two great, great ads and I can’t pick between them.  “Puppy Love” gets a slight edge in branding due to the prominence of the Clydesdales, while you needed to wait 30 seconds before the first hint that “Soldier Comes Home” was from Budweiser.  But … that … ad … just, fantastic.

“Puppy Love” seems to be the consensus winner among this year’s ads due to its awesome story, and I would like to think, the terrific branding with the Clydesdales.  As of Wednesday afternoon, the Budweiser YouTube page for this ad has over 43 million views!  Congratulations!

However, I have to put someone else at #1 on this year’s list …

#1 – Radio Shack, “The Phone Call Commercial”

First, terrific branding right from the opening images.  Then, my mind was just completely blown away, with all of the 1980’s characters walking through the front of the store.  Look at this list: Erik Estrada from Chips, “Cliff” from Cheers, Hulk Hogan, Dee Snider, Chucky, Alf, Kid ‘n Play, The California Raisins, Q*bert, Teen Wolf, and Slimer.  Seriously?!  This isn’t just the greatest Super Bowl ad in 2014, this could be one of the greatest Super Bowl ads ever!  I’m so disappointed that this isn’t getting more props in the days after the Super Bowl, though it might be due to the fact that half the audience has no idea who these people and characters are.

Beyond the nostalgia and the strong branding at the very opening, you have a fantastic ending where Radio Shack essentially re-launches / re-brands itself and its stores.  The only thing this ad is missing is a hashtag at the end.  While it does bring in the “Do.It.Together” slogan and points you to the Radio Shack web site, they could have dropped in a hashtag on the same screen there and taken off.

So there it is, the second annual Super Bowl Ad Review!  Budweiser and Radio Shack were phenomenal and everything else fell behind those two.  However, these seven ads really caught my attention for one reason or another.  Now, let’s get to the bonus content …

I didn’t particularly like the following ads: The Diet Mountain Dew ad with Dale Earnhardt Jr was a little weird.  While it had decent branding in it, I somewhat expected a response from PETA and others about the content.  That’s simply because of the way things go in this country these days.  The other ad that I thought was going to cause a bit of stir was the Coca-Cola “America the Beautiful” ad.  I am not offended by the ad and I don’t think they were “wrong” for running it, as some are insinuating over the past few days, I just didn’t like the ad itself.  I thought the branding was weak and nowhere near as strong as ads in the past from the beverage giant.

Given that I am a Seahawks fan, I watched a lot of pregame coverage and found these two ads to be extremely well done:

The Zillow ad is obviously similar to the Budweiser ad above, but thought this was equally impressive and had strong branding throughout.  The Geico gecko is its own branding right from the get-go (see what I did there?) but this “Cheesesteak Shuffle” made me laugh.  Well done … again … Geico!

What were some of your favorite ads from this year’s Super Bowl?