The game is over, the fans have gone home, and the pantheon of Super Bowl ads has at last been viewed. So now for the part we in branding really care about: choosing the winners from last night’s commercials.
We saw everything from serious and thought provoking to silly and heartwarming…and even downright stupid. So who really came out on top? Here are Landor’s Super Bowl 50 brand winners.
Best long game
We have to give this one to Anheuser-Busch, who struck a range of emotions while properly pacing its spots throughout the game. It began with humor in the first half with Bud Light and Shock Top, and then moved into powerful heritage with the Budweiser Clydesdales in the third quarter. Rounding out the game with a Helen Mirren PSA against drunk driving, Budweiser brought a wry, yet serious note to the conclusion of AB InBev’s story arc. Capping it all off was Peyton Manning, who twice mentioned Budweiser in his postgame interviews as a part of his celebration for the win.
Strongest home-field advantage
Naturally, this one goes to the NFL itself. We were highly impressed with its two spots: The Super Bowl babies commercial was in keeping with the NFL’s 2015 theme of family while adding some humor to the event, and its PSA spot against domestic violence and abuse was eye-catching, thought provoking, and highly memorable. Both spots were very on-brand and had the “stickiness” factor that Super Bowl spots need in order to be effective.
Play of the game
This was a tough one, with quite a few brands being potential winners for the category. Ultimately it came down to three: Kraft Heinz for its adorably comedic running wiener dogs in #MeettheKetchups, Audi for its Bowie-inspired R8 commercial, and Jeep for its heritage-heavy, graphically beautiful ads in the second half. And the winner is…Audi. This was a totally unexpected spot from the car company, combining car technology, heartwarming family emotion, and a beloved nostalgic soundtrack into one, highly relevant and understandable metaphor: The Audi R8 is like a rocket ship. On-brand, on-trend, and just generally on-point.
Best brand integration
As much as condoning bank robbery or highway chases could be problematic, Toyota Prius figured out how to make its latest series of spots memorable and humorous while showcasing the car’s features by directly combatting stereotypes around the car’s speed, handling, and body design. These spots may not have stolen the show as one-off commercials, but they effectively did exactly what they were supposed to do: grabbed people’s attention while describing a product in a clear and relevant manner.
Most memorable (or, the player we love to hate)
Mountain Dew. This spot was terrible—honestly one of the worst of the night—and was widely panned across social media. As much as we hated it, we can’t deny its impact. #PuppyMonkeyBaby received 27.2 thousand posts according to social tracker Postano and is still being talked about a day after the game, making PuppyMonkeyBaby a part of everyone’s Super Bowl ad conversation. Whether the spot sells more product is yet to be seen, but don’t plan on forgetting the horrifying three-animal amalgamation—or the equally earsplitting jingle—anytime soon.
Best extra point
Pantene released a series of Dad-Do spots that hit precisely the right tone for the brand. Focusing on dads and their daughters felt like a natural move for a P&G brand (think “Moms” campaigns of years past), and Pantene did a great job of working in its product suite and focusing on hair. The campaign also redefines beauty as strength, a message reinforced through the fathers’ perspective, bringing insight and weight to Pantene’s commercials. Unfortunately, the full commercial only ran in select markets during the game. We wish Pantene had released this nationally as it was one of the best spots of this year’s Super Bowl.
And that’s a wrap for the best, and worst, of this year’s Super Bowl commercials. Weigh in on our social channels to share your thoughts on last night’s ads!
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