Creating a Super Bowl commercial that lives up to the bigness of the game is a daunting challenge. It’s usually the spots that don’t feel like any of the other spots that get talked about the most—at least by us industry folks. Like VW’s classic Darth Vader spot. The Dodge "Farmers" commercial from a few years ago. And (patting ourselves on the back a bit) the 84 Lumber spot we did for last year’s Super Bowl.
Derek Julin and Kevin Corfield are the two Associate Creative Directors at Brunner who created last year’s Super Bowl commercial—84 Lumber’s "The Journey." But last night, they watched purely as spectators—from two different perspectives. Kevin watched all the pre-released spots and teasers prior the game. Derek purposely went into the game without having watched a single frame.
Let’s see what they thought of last night’s slate:
KEVIN: Overall a lot of the work seemed Super Bowl formulaic, which is usually the case. A lot of celebrities—some used better than others. A lot of broad humor—some executed better than others. That said, there were a few fun surprises. Some truly original work that stood out.
DEREK: Tide won the Super Bowl with their "It’s a Tide ad" spots. They had the biggest, most inventive idea of the night by far.
KEVIN: Yeah, I don’t think there’ll be much debate about that. And the Tide storyline was all about a product benefit to boot. I thought another spot that pulled off the "this isn’t what you think it is" approach was was the fake movie trailer ad for Australian Tourism.
DEREK: They had me fooled.
KEVIN: Me too. I was kind of excited about a Danny McBride Crocodile Dundee movie.
DEREK: Another fun spot was the Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Dirty Dancing spot for the NFL. Eli beat Peyton in the commercial game tonight.
KEVIN: Another entry in the "fun to watch" category was the epic lip sync battle between Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman. The Doritos/Mountain Dew commercial made me smile. They kept it simple, light and entertaining.
DEREK: I loved the Amazon spot where Alexa loses her voice. It was a smart premise. Made great use of celebrities. The perfect formula for a Super Bowl spot.
KEVIN: I gotta admit, as stupid as I thought Dilly Dilly was when it first came out, the campaign grew on me. I thought the Bud Light spot with Bud Knight was a stupid-smart ending to the trilogy. When Bud Knight tries to bail from battle by saying "a buddy of mine is having this 30th birthday thing"…that’s just funny.
DEREK: I liked the dry humor. But I wish Bud Knight would have just left instead of saving the day.
KEVIN: So what about the more serious, emotional spots? What did you think?
DEREK: I thought there’d be more controversial ads. There really weren’t any. Except the MLK ad for Dodge. That one just felt wrong to me. And what was up with that T-Mobile ad? I mean, I like babies and inclusivity…but what does that have to do with T-Mobile?
KEVIN: Yeah. I think Dodge will probably get a lot of flack for that one. Toyota, on the other hand, did a nice job with their "Good Odds" spot. I found it moving and inspiring. I would have been proud to make that one.
DEREK: For me, Verizon did a better job of tying more directly to what they do as a company with the first responders spot. And who doesn’t want to give a shout out to first responders?
KEVIN: Okay, totally different topic. You didn’t see any of the teasers, but a lot of the spots didn’t live up to the tease in my opinion. The one spot we didn’t get to see, that I still really want to see, is the Skittles "Most Exclusive Super Bowl Spot Ever" commercial. Only one guy—Marcos Menendez—got to see that. I thought the Skittles teasers with David Schwimmer were fantastic. They were oddly good in that weird Skittles bizarre kind of way. And you could tell David Schwimmer was into it. Yeah, the whole thing was a gimmick. But a good one.
DEREK: One more spot that I don’t think will get talked about much, but that I liked, is the Jeep Wrangler spot. The one that was pure demonstration with the Jeep driving up the rocks and the line "There’s your manifesto."
KEVIN: That’s kind of how I feel about the E-Trade "I’m 85 and I want to go home" commercial. It didn’t really stand out in the context of the Super Bowl. But I thought it was a good addition to the E-Trade campaign, which I really like. Did we miss anything?
DEREK: I think we talked about all the ones worth talking about.
KEVIN: Agreed. There were others that started out promising but they kind of just fizzled out.
DEREK: I think we’re starting to fizzle out with our review.
KEVIN: You might be right. Maybe we should stop talking and call it a night.