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Best and Worst Ads of Super Bowl 52

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Five million dollars can go a long way. For some people, it’s worth 30 seconds of the most watched content of the year.

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Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Welcome to the NFL offseason, boys and girls. Last night’s Super Bowl had some great action. Nick Foles and Tom Brady lit up the scoreboard with the most passing yards in any postseason game. Philadelphia turned into a full blown riot as people flooded the streets. Tom Brady decided to try to catch a ball with only one glove. Alshon Jeffery put on an incredible performance throughout the evening. On social media, I saw at least three people propose on the war torn streets of Philadelphia. Somehow Meek Mill is still relevant even if he’s in jail. Team Fluff won the Puppy Bowl.

And the advertisements during the Super Bowl were fairly strong throughout the night. Of course, there were winners and losers among the brands that put $5,000,000 into thirty seconds of content - that is why we play the game.

The Best:

Toyota

Fantastic combination of of music, storytelling, social movements, a tagline, and brand imaging. “When we are free to move, anything is possible” is a breathtakingly good line. Toyota was on its game for the Super Bowl. With three ads and being the official sponsor of halftime, Toyota made themselves one of the biggest winners of the day. Staying on top of consumers’ minds in a crowded industry on the most crowded day is treacherous waters - just ask the Vikings in one of Dodge’s commercials - so good on Toyota for speaking loudly and carrying a big stick.

Amazon

A highly anticipated ad resulting from an exciting pre-release video had the public intrigued for several days before the game. With CEO Jeff Bezos’ cameo to start the commercial, Amazon delivers on a sequence of celebrity appearances that were hilarious. Cardi B stole 2017 and she is halfway to taking over 2018 now. Alexa regains her voice by the end of the ad, and Amazon regains their place as the producer of the most popular AI device.

NFL

When you have been watching the playoffs on your couch for the last five weeks, you have enough time to choreograph this epic commercial. Here, the NFL pats itself on its back with an ad during its own show. It was an interesting decision to pick Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. for the commercial since one had a subpar season and the other was injured for most of the year, yet the dancing and comedy of the ad was too priceless to not enjoy. It rivaled the Super Bowl Shuffle of the 1985 Chicago Bears, as it casually escalated in absurdity for sixty straight seconds. The chemistry between the Giants’ QB and WR is as good off the field is as it (can) be on it. Happy offseasoning, Giants fans.

Budweiser

You don’t need a big celebrity or giant metaphors to get your point across. Dropping the Clydesdales for a different type of heartwarming tale, Budweiser subtly cans water instead of beer and ships it out to the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. An “everyday hero” ad prevailed in an emotional plug for the giant beer company. I am glad Bud was not too laudatory of their actions and kept the spot about the people instead of the company.

Tide

The joke’s on Tide since this is also a food ad because those delicious looking squares are too irresistible not to eat (please don’t). A big winner of the day for their insight that people like to guess and blurt out the brand before the commercial is over. Tide takes multiple six-second ads and continually fools the public until the big reveal. It’s very impressive offensive marketing for a well established brand. Making “every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad” has you anticipating Tide to step in during everyone else’s actual ad.

Honorable Mention: Doritos + Mountain Dew, M&M, Tourism Australia, and Verizon.

The Worst:

Diet Coke

I instantly disliked this ad when she did not finish the first sentence. They must have only had $5,000,000 for the ad because none of it went to production. Finding a mustard-colored wall and the nearest human to film an ad cannot cost Diet Coke much in expenses. The actress’ purposefully cringe-worthy dancing was not enough to distract me from those socks she chose. Oy vey.

Squarespace

A consistent member of the Super Bowl commercial lineup, Squarespace usually pushes the envelope with weird and intriguing commercials. This spot with Keanu Reeves standing on a motorcycle and chanting words like he is repeating a positive psychology handbook was more awkward than clever. The only saving grace is that Reeves actually performed the stunt himself, according to AdAge. This falls into the “boring” category of Super Bowl ads as it was washed away by many more comical and emotional competitors.

Bud Light

Possibly the most disappointing ad of the entire game, Bud Light dropped the ball on their Dilly Dilly campaign with a character that had zero previous context within the long-run campaign. The spot lacked the comedy and coherence that was expected from a long-running campaign. Oh, how I loved to randomly bellow “Dilly Dilly” with friends and be toasted with the same phrase. Alas, what is dead may never die (a semi-fitting Game of Thrones reference).

Dodge

Ayeeeee...the potential biggest loser from last night’s Super Bowl (other than the Patriots) was Dodge. In 2014, their “Farmer” ad was one of the best of all time. This year, I wasn’t able to make the jump from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech to the inspirational and call-to-action aspects of the commercial. I preferred their viking ad; it was comical and topical. Why on Earth are they trying to pair those two messages together? When you have two different ad agencies making two different spots, they are likely going to come up with two completely separate voices for the ad. I appreciate what they were trying to say and their motive, but I think they were trying to string together too many different threads for this commercial.

Pepsi

A main part of advertising is the targeting. The saying goes that if you are trying to talk to everyone, then you’re talking to no one. Unless there’s a statistical anomaly that validates the consumption of Pepsi equally across all age groups, I’m not convinced that this was a good ad. The production quality was top tier, cultural references were copious, and the tone was in alignment with the brand. These are all lost by the fact that Pepsi broke a cardinal sin in advertising by not establishing a target audience. Pepsi’s in-house agency does not have the best track record (remember the terrible Kendall Jenner ad from 2017?), so maybe they pull the plug on the relationship before they get stripped like Tom Brady of their generation-less following.

Dishonorable Mention: Jeep, Wix.com, WeatherTech, and Groupon.