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Which Brands Won and Lost the Super Bowl Ad Sweepstakes?

For football fans, Super Bowl LIV has a clear winner (the Chiefs) and a clear loser (the 49ers). But, for many marketing executives who shelled out millions of dollars to advertise during the big game, the jury is still out.

american football 266393 1280Still, a number of outlets have provided lists of the best and worst Super Bowl ads. Jeep’s 'Groundhog Day' ad and Google’s 'Loretta' ad consistently ranked in the winner column.

For those of you that didn’t catch the spots, ‘Groundhog Day’ features Bill Murray reprising his role from the movie of the same name. “The Super Bowl falls on Groundhog Day, 2020, and in this clever ad, it’s the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ all over again for Bill Murray,” according to an article from The Chicago Tribune. “Except he’s older and he notices an orange Jeep that looks like a toy car writ large in downtown Punxsutawney.”

A CBS column listed this commercial as third, USA TODAY’s Ad Meter has it in the top spot, and The Chicago Tribune has it in the fifth spot.

Google’s spot, meanwhile tugs at the heartstrings. “The emotionally powerful ad features a man who uses Google Assistant to reminisce about his late wife, Loretta, by searching for photos, places visited, a favorite movie and more so as not to forget,” according to a CNN article. “It's inspired by a true story—the grandfather of a Google employee.”

The CBS column placed ‘Loretta’ in fourth, the ad meter and The Chicago Tribune both have it at third. Both ‘Loretta’ and “Groundhog Day” ranked in Fast Company’s best ads list.

A Mixed Bag

Some ads appeared on both the best and worst lists, showing that some ads can be received very differently by different audiences. For example, the CBS article lists Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” at the top of its best commercials list. USA TODAY’s ad meter has it ranked second.

But, a Forbes column contributed by Jeetendr Sehdev of CMO Network, named this ad as the worst of the lot. “Okay, Hyundai, you decided to cast a hotchpotch of Boston-based, b-list Hollywood names, with Chris Evans, John Krasinski, and Rachel Dratch to shout out "Smaht Pahk" as many times as possible."

“Firstly, I didn't believe that any of the celebrities in the ad would be caught dead in a Hyundai. It lacked authenticity. The overall tone and sensibility of the ad also felt a tad dated—which was odd given the ad was meant to promote futuristic technology. On a casting front, the split-second inclusion of legendary Red Sox slugger David "Big Papi" Ortiz in this ad was also problematic.”

Sehdev’s Forbes column listed Olay’s “Make Space for Women” as the best ad. He writes that it is “star-studded, unapologetically female, funny, and brilliantly diverse in its cast of characters” and “aligns well with (Olay's) brand's DNA, namely space-age, skin defying formulas.” He adds that the “use of powerful female celebrities imbues (Olay’s) brand with a strong cultural currency around the hot topic of women's rights.”

He give’s Audi’s “Let it Go” featuring Maisie Williams the runner-up status. However, both commercials landed on the list of worst ads in the Fast Company rankings. The Olay spot doesn’t have “key elements like narrative, humor, tension, or any story whatsoever,” while Audi “has all the brand strength and marketing budget to make almost literally whatever they want, and yet this result is just so, so corny,” according to the article.

What the Hell?
Writers and pundits had mixed thoughts about “As Good as the Original,” a spot promoting Mountain Dew Zero Sugar featuring Brian Cranston. The CBS article had it as the eighth best, while the Fast Company article listed it as among the best as well. “This is so weirdly random that it actually works incredibly well,” according to the article.

Meanwhile, The Chicago Tribune article says the commercial is “extremely tone-deaf.”

“It is… a highly convincing domestic violence scene,” according to the article. “That it’s a movie tribute and that Bryan/Jack offers her a sugar-free Mtn Dew instead of continuing to strike the door (or get his hand slashed) only takes a little of the dark edge off.” The Forbes article begins its commentary on the commercial with the following statement: “What The Hell?”

“Did you bring Mountain Dew back into the consumer's consciousness? Yes! Did you remain true to Mountain Dew's wild at heart DNA? Yes! Did you successfully laugh in the face of the anti-soda health movement? Hell, Yes”

More Winners
'The Cool Ranch,' a spot from Doritos, ranked fourth on the Ad Meter, while Rocket Mortgage’s 'Comfortable,' featuring Jason Momoa, came in fifth. Both spots were also listed as winners in the CBS article, while the Doritos ad also made the Fast Company list.

Snickers’ 'Fix the World' topped the list from The Chicago Tribune. “In a winningly snarky callback to Coke’s famous ‘teach the world to sing’ ad, Snickers tries to make the world a better place...,” the article notes.

The Chicago Tribune also gave a thumbs up to 'Can’t Touch This' from Cheetos, featuring MC Hammer and Little Caesars’ 'Best Thing Since Sliced Bread,' featuring Rainn Wilson of “The Office.” The Fast Company article also listed Dashlane’s 'Password Paradise' among its winners. “This password-storage service is no McDonald’s in terms of brand awareness, and it’s chosen to avoid the rookie Super Bowl move of enlisting a celebrity to make up for it,” according to the article. “But it makes this list for a funny, memorable spot rooted in the rage-inducing insight of forgotten passwords. No tech scare-mongering, but a lighter approach that still manages to convey Dashlane’s core value proposition.”

The Bad

USA TODAY’s Ad Meter listed the Trump 2020 Campaign’s 'Criminal Justice Reform,' as the worst ad. The Bloomberg 2020 Campaign’s 'George,' finished just two spots ahead of the Trump ad on the list of worst ads. Some of the other rankings excluded the political ads because they are of a different ilk than the rest.

Squarespace’s 'Winona in Winona,' Quibi’s 'Bank Heist,' and Pop-Tarts’ 'Fix the Pretzel' were among the other worst ranked commercials from the ad meter. The Chicago Tribune article also gave a big thumbs down to Quibi, as well as Coca-Cola Energy’s 'Show Up.' “There’s not a legitimate chuckle in these 60 seconds, and it feels miscast and out of step,” according to the article.

Facebook’s 'Ready to Rock?' also fell flat. “The celebrity usage sounds good in concept but the execution is lacking,” according to the article. Finally, Michelob Ultra’s 'Jimmy Works It Out,' featuring Jimmy Fallon was also a dud.

The Fast Company article listed “Shopping Network,” from Avocados From Mexico as one of the worst of the night, adding that it felt “like one of those SNL sketches that drags on too long.” Lastly, WeatherTech’s 'Lucky Dog' spot made the ‘worst’ list. “The decision here to celebrate veterinary doctors who saved the star of last year’s big game ad (also the CEO’s pooch) is either genius or a waste.”

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