A Look at the Future, and the Past. This Year’s Super Bowl Ads.

Now that the dust has settled and you’ve completely forgotten about the Super Bowl ads from last week, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this year’s ads, including my favorites, and not so favorites. We had an ad going back to 1982, and ones looking at a future filled with robots.

But before I dive in, a special shout out to one of my colleagues, Ray Taylor. Ray is an internationally recognized expert on advertising, and for years has analyzed the Super Bowl commercials. This year he has been asked to write a column for Forbes, and this past week he wrote a couple of columns, one looking at what he thought were the best commercials and which ones he considered the worst. I’d highly recommend you read his posts so you can see what a professional analysis looks like, as compared to my off the cuff remarks (aka drivel).

Anyway, here were my favorite ads:

Google Translate. We discovered this app while at the City Museum of Barcelona last year, and then we couldn’t stop using it. I loved how the commercial ended by saying that the most translated words in the world were “how are you”, “thank you”, and “I love you.” Another winning commercial by Google.


Microsoft. From its YouTube description – this ad illustrates Microsoft’s commitment to building accessible technology that levels the playing field and creates an opportunity for all of us. The video showcases the inspirational story of passionate young gamers rising to the top of their game with a little help from their friends, family and the Xbox Adaptive Controller. Well done, Microsoft.

Michelob Ultra. As someone who likes to push myself when I work out, I do sometimes wonder why I do it. Seeing the dejected robot looking in the window while everyone else is enjoying each other’s company (with a Michelob Ultra of course) made me feel bad for the robot, and then the words came on the screen “It’s Only Worth It If You Can Enjoy It.” It made me reflect on why I work out, and I realized I like it because I do enjoy the benefits that come from exercise. But it also reminded me of the importance of maintaining a social network. I thought it was much better than their AMSR ad.

I also liked the Andy Warhol/Burger King commercial, the Turbotax ad with Robochild, the Amazon Alexa ad, the Hyundai ad with Jason Bateman (they poke fun at vegans!), the Verizon ads for first responders, and the Devour frozen food porn commercial.

As for my least favorite, it’s got to be the chunky milk commercial. I almost didn’t want to put it here because I didn’t want to have to look at it again.

Since I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, I didn’t really get the Bud Light commercial. To be honest, at first, I thought the ad was for one of Bud Light’s competitors because it Bud Light lost the joust and was killed. Seems like something Miller Lite would do…

If I had not known what bumble is (a dating app),  I would have had no idea what Serena Williams’s commercial was about.

So there’s my take on this year’s ads.

By the way, the Kellogg School at Northwestern University grades the Super Bowl ads each year, and it looks like I’m in agreement with some of their rankings, but way off on others. It picked the Microsoft ad as its favorite, but the Andy Warhol ad as the worst, giving it a grade of an F, the only ad to receive such a grade.

USA Today also ranks the Super Bowl commercials, using its Admeter to do so. The top ad on this year’s ranking was the NFL’s commercial of the 100-year game, followed by the Amazon Alexa ad and the Microsoft ad. Once again, however, just like the Kellogg School results, the Andy Warhol ad received the lowest score. And the Turbotax Robochild commercial received the second lowest score.

So as you can see my views aren’t quite in sync with the experts (my colleague Ray Taylor also included the Andy Warhol ad in his worst of list).

I guess what appealed to me about the Andy Warhol ad is the way he dipped his burger in the ketchup – it’s the exact same way two of my boys eat their sandwiches, and I had never seen anyone do it that way before. So how could I not like that ad?

Anyway, thank you to all the companies and ad agencies for their efforts to produce these ads.

Now it’s time to wait for the British Christmas commercials

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