5 Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads, Ranked by a Philly Ad Exec

Here are the five commercials that were worth the money — $5 million a spot this year — and the five that should have stayed on the drawing board.


What. A. Game. The Falcons started out hot, but the Patriots finished even stronger. They were not, however, the only big names duking it out. Brands also squared off on advertising’s biggest stage. With the chance to influence 120 million people at a whopping $5 million price tag, the stakes were steep. Here are the five commercials that were worth the money — and the five that should have stayed on the drawing board.

Best of the Best

“Born the Hard Way” | Budweiser
America’s beer raises a glass to what makes America great.
It wasn’t exactly political, but it certainly was provocative in its timeliness. You gotta give credit to a big national brand for standing up for its immigrant heritage. Especially when that brand is embraced by a large portion of population that may take offense to its messaging. Cheers to you, Bud.

“Yearbooks” | Honda CRV
Voted most likely to succeed.
Lots of brands attempt to use celebrities in their Super Bowl commercials, but few do it well. And last night, no one did it better than Honda. This ad was simple in premise but complex in execution and drew you in the second it started. Which is the exact formula for a winning spot.


“Daughters” | Audi
Ad for equal pay for women was the most beautiful spot of the day.
I tip my cap to Audi for having the cojones to stand up for something when it was their moment to step into the spotlight. This spot was as thoughtful as it was cinematic. The only problem with the spot was that it’s poignant messaging is still overshadowed by Audi’s emissions testing scandal. Remember what they say about glass houses …

“Romance” | Skittles
The funniest spot of the night hit the sweet spot.
Skittles made up for last year’s gross Steven Tyler commercial with this funny, perfectly executed gem. You know a spot is a winner when you can make everyone in the room — adults and kids alike — laugh out loud at once. Congratulate the rainbow.

“Awful Hair” | It’s a 10
It’s a 10 indeed, brand that I now know.
Every year, 15 brands who have never even run a commercial before attempt to make a Super Bowl commercial. Very few of them make a great spot their first time out. But It’s a 10 nailed it. It was topical, without being overly political. It was funny. And it featured a baby with the world’s greatest coif. But most important, this spot successfully introduced the product to the country.

Worst of the Worst

“Ghost Spuds” | Bud Light
Let’s put the leash back on this one.
Both Busch and Bud Light went back to the well to reintroduce old ad campaigns. But while the “Buschhhh” spot was quirky and fun, “Ghost Spuds” felt like it was trying too hard and fell too flat. If you’re going to reintroduce one of the most recognizable ad mascots of all time, you need to do better than that.

“Tech Team” | WeatherTech
They know they’re floor mats, right?
I hate when brands over-exaggerate what their company does and what their product means to people. And what’s with all the action sequences? It’s a floor mat, not the latest Vin Diesel action flick. Settle down, WeatherTech.

“Chez Feliz” | Wix.com
I just purchased whatweretheythinking.com.
What do Jason Statham, Gal Gadot, and an exploding restaurant have to do with an online website-building company? Absolutely nothing. Which is why this spot bombed.

“Live” | Snickers
Lady Gaga had the only good live performance of the day.
I love Snickers. And their advertising. They have created some of the best Super Bowl spots of all time (think Betty White and Marsha, Marsha, Marsha). I appreciate that they were trying to do something no one had attempted before — a live Super Bowl commercial. But the rewards were high, and so were the risks. I found this spot confusing and the last few frames were cut off by the broadcast feed. Go get ’em next year, Snickers.

“The Science of Clean” | Persil
For the second year, they’re back … and they’re still bad.
Persil did its first Super Bowl spot last year, and it was bad. And that’s not just my opinion:It was one of the lower-rated spots on USA Today’s Admeter. So what did they do this year? Basically the same thing. Sure, this year they added Bill Nye the Science Guy. But the ad was still boring, especially compared to the interesting spots Tide ran with Gronk and Jeffrey Tambor. It’s time to retire this campaign, Persil. Even after repeated cycles, it still hasn’t come out right.

Steve Merino is the chief creative officer at Aloysius, Butler & Clark, one of the region’s largest independent advertising agencies and also ranked by Ad Age as one of the nation’s “Top Shops.” Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.