Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads

From the Raunchy to the Poignant – Advertisers Ran the Gamut

Commercials that air during the Super Bowl generate as much, if not more buzz than the game itself. But breaking through that buzz and selling the product is a challenge for advertisers. Sometimes the product can get lost in the entertainment.

“People are getting so much buzz before and after that you’re really getting more than you spend,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO and founder of Kaplan Thaler Group. “I’ve never seen so much buzz on the ads beforehand. Now you can download ads on your cell phone. You’ve got viral marketing.”

But comedian Hal Sparks knew what he liked — the streaking lamb Budweiser commercial.

“I think the streaking goat was the funniest on its own,” said Sparks, the former host of E!’s “Talk Soup.”

“Bud got to see their Clydesdales in their continuing ‘Bud Light is for Idiots’ campaign. The Tostitos ad was the same thing. If you ever see a guy drinking Bud and eating Tostitos, don’t let him date your sister.”

This year, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl cost advertisers $2.5 million. Kaplan Thaler said that somewhere between 90 million and 130 million people were watching and that the Super Bowl was one of the only times when people actually paid attention to the ads.

Some of these advertisers seized the moment, Kaplan Thaler said. She liked Bud’s magic fridge commercial, but was touched by Dove’s commercial about girls and self-esteem.

“It’s interesting to see Unilever/Dove doing a commercial about young girls. You don’t think that’s the typical audience, but half the audience is women,” she said.

Sparks said the Dove ad was a “nice thought” and “kind of cool.”

“Its counterpoint was the here’ ad,” he said. “Beer is the only thing that holds the world together. Beer is our only point of tradition. It’s the only coming-of-age maker.”

Sparks was also shocked by the Budweiser ad featuring a young Clydesdale who wanted to drive the iconic Bud sleigh.

“Give your kid their first drink,” he said the ad was telling people. “And & let him drive.”

There were also many ads for products geared to older people. For example, Leonard Nimoy touted Aleve.

“That just shows the aging of America,” Kaplan Thaler said. “As we get older, it’s harder to get up and leave when the ads come on — more captive audience.”

But according to Sparks, there were only two commercials that were compelling enough to get him to buy the product.

“That was the Moto PEBL ad, which was very cool, elegant,” he said. “Smart special effects — sexiest ad. I also like the Gillette Fusion ad. But the Gillette Fusion was way too serious. It’s a razor called Fusion, not cold fusion, dudes. Lighten up. But six blades? That’ll shave your hair down to the bone.”

Kaplan Thaler said that the Jessica Simpson Pizza Hut ad was the worst ad.

“Many were not that good,” she said. “Diet Pepsi was bad. Careerbuilder, not enough with the Monkeys. was horrible.”