Adland has spoken!
From the "cringe-worthy" Michelob ad to Stella Artois' "fun, impeccably-produced" spot with The Dude -- here’s what won and lost Super Bowl LIII, according to you.
Erica Fite, co-founder and C0-CCO at Fancy
Favorite: The Bumble ad with Serena Williams was a win for women and for the brand. Reminding women that they have the power to make strong proactive choices in their lives made me a Bumble fan, and the colorful, pretty art direction was a nice reminder that, as Serena herself shows us, feminine fun easily lives hand in hand with female power.
Least: Although it seemed like a win for women to have Christina Applegate as the non-objectified, real-life woman lead in the M&M’s spot, I felt it was, sadly, a stereotypical portrayal of a grumpy stressed-out mom in a car. How many times have we seen this generalization of moms? I’m really rooting for more women’s roles in the Super Bowl but, believe it or not, I think a braver choice for this one would have been to cast a man.
Michael Duda, managing partner at Bullish
Favorite: Microsoft. The Brand is not as revered as the number of cool stuff and innovations it’s produced under CEO Satya Nadella. "We all win" is an emotional story where Microsoft plays the appropriate level of hero perfectly.
Least: Turbo Tax. Perhaps the worst of the slew of robot/AI entries, the spot actually helps amplify rival H&R Block’s human-first positioning.
Leslie Sims, CCO at Ogilvy USA
Favorite: All due respect to Microsoft and HBO killing the Bud Light knight, the Washington Post ad in the fourth quarter hit hardest with the most powerful and relevant brand message in the Super Bowl this year. Mic drop. [Disclaimer: Ogilvy was part of the Washington Post spot]
Least: I struggled with this one as the head shaver was a fierce contender, but in the end I went with the Scientology ad. It’s uninspired concept and glitzy production quality was at best tone deaf. Not only did it appear unaware it was running on the Super Bowl, I didn’t see one relevant reference to anything in culture from the last 10 years.
Elizabeth Lay, art director at 180LA
Favorite: The Bud Light ads felt like super bowl spots should: BIG. Their use of humor to tell a cold, hard product fact is what made this an expert level troll. And then, the follow-up GoT collaboration was just the icing on the cake. From creative to production, it was all awesome.
Least: T-Mobile, what a missed opportunity. They could’ve been the voice of the text generation, but missed the mark. Contrived, lacking insight, and heavy in cliché and gender stereotypes. And they did this all with a pink face.
Erica Roberts, ECD at Publicis NY
Favorite: Stella Artois, even though you may not have been the highest concept spot of the night, I still abide. SJP hooked me, and The Dude locked it down. It was a fun, impeccably-produced :45 seconds that I rewound and watched three times. I’m a sucker for the 90’s, what can I say?
Least: I feel like it’s impossible for a spot starring Zoe Kravitz to go wrong—her coolness, confidence and sex appeal are effortless. Yet somehow, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold managed to turn this modern day goddess into …I hate to say this aloud, so I’ll whisper it… a cringe-worthy shill. Speak up, girl. Unless, of course, organic beers are only for librarians.
Sean McBride EVP, executive creative director at Arnold Worldwide
Favorite: Hyundai "The Elevator." So much of car advertising is self-impressed driving footage, so I like that Hyundai had the guts to take on one of the downsides to buying a car, and use it as a point of difference. Plus the spot was just well-executed -- the jokes landed (sorry vegans), and the whole thing played to Bateman’s strengths.
Least: Stella Artois "Change up the Usual." Two incredibly talented performers reprising two beloved roles, three slapstick plate drops, one nonsensical cameo by an advertising legend, but nary a laugh to be found. I can’t believe The Dude came out of retirement for this.
Jason Harris, president and CEO at Mekanism
Favorite: For the most powerful ad of the night, Washington Post takes the honor. Using historical footage and highlighting how far journalists go to bring us the facts, is a perfectly timed message in the "fake news" era. The power of the free press was underscored with Tom Hanks narration, star of The Post. "Democracy Dies In Darkness" is such a powerful and motivating end line. From start to finish a beautiful spot.
And for the most entertaining of the night goes to the NFL 100. The subtleties for football fans were so rich. Tom Brady making Baker Mayfield hold his rings and Mayfield saying "get out there old man" is what friendly competition is all about. So many details that make this celebratory spot perfect for repeat viewing.
Least: Worst ad was Michelob Ultra’s Pure Gold ASMR spot. The Super Bowl isn't the place to bring a subculture from YouTube onto the main stage of 100 million viewers. Attempting to relax and sooth partying football fans jacked up for the big game, backfires. This spot would make sense in a targeted online format, but it has no place at the Super Bowl and just left people at my party scratching their unsoothed heads.
Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO at Obviously
Favorite: I loved the T-Mobile ads. They were simple, easy to follow at a loud party, fun and actually got an audible laugh from my fellow cheerleaders. You don't need a cast of recognizable actors and crazy effects to make an impact!
P.S. -- I actually looked up Taco Bell Tuesdays. That level of engagement must count for something.
Least: Kia. Who has ever driven through such a deep river? Ever? And don't anonymize "small town" residents. Please, stop now. A lot of amazing people come from small towns and have more to offer than affordable labor for your factories. No wonder there is so much division in our country right now. Ugh.
Sarah Hofstetter, president at Comscore
Favorite: HBO+ Bud Light for conquesting with breakthrough work that delivered a powerful twist to Dilly Dilly. The Washington Post spot was on brand, and shines a light for journalism overall.
Least: Robot overload, making it tough break through. Wondering if Adland is trying to say that robots can’t replace us.
Greg March, CEO at Noble People
Favorite: The Bud Light Game of Thrones. I loved that I didn’t see it coming. Your watching thinking Bud Light is doing a tongue and cheek nod to GOT, then a head explodes and it’s full on dragons melting shit. I don’t know if they abstained from trade press about it, but I didn’t see it, and I think the surprise made it great.
Least: I don’t want bash the spot because the Dude and Sarah Jess and that music got the attention of the room for Stella. Very good choices there. But the pre hype killed it for me. I knew it was coming and my first reaction was dulled. If they caught me surprise, it would’ve hit me harder.
In general I think the pre-release of lots of spots have jumped the shark. I get wanting to squeeze every inch out these efforts and media spend, but stop it. People were excited to see The Dude hit the screen in a Super Bowl spot in a room full of people -- wish I was.
Kristine Ling, executive producer at JohnXHannes
Favorite: Microsoft Adaptive Controller -- a strong reminder of the power of inclusivity. Beautifully executed, I wish I had produced this.
Least: Bon & Viv -- I found this to be confusing all around between concept and execution. It all felt a little discombobulated.
Luis Miguel Messianu, creative chairman, CEO ALMA
The most inspirational: Google Translator
The most clever one: Hyundai Elevator
The most entertaining: 100 Year NFL
The most emotional: The Coach that wouldn’t be here Verizon
The best use of past equity: Handsmaid Tale
The most hopeful: The Washington Post
The worst use of money: Michelob Gold Ultra. Fake and cliche.
But nothing as standout and disruptive as last year’s Tide campaign.
Nancy Hill, CEO at Media Sherpas
My overall reaction to the ads last night was "meh."
There were the usual super bowl celeb laden spots -- Expensify (JohnXHannes) was great use of celebrity with 2 Chainzz/Adam Scott, Stella Artois (SJP and Jeff Bridges) and Hyundai (Jason Bateman) we’re both ok and there was a true miss (Olay with Sarah Michelle Geller).
Some good use of storytelling, with T-Mobile and the Twitter meme ending with the free Lyft driver, "I’m outside." But, the low, low, LOW moment for me was watching the chunky milk pour in the Mint Mobile ad. I’ve had that experience, it’s not a good thing. Ever. I have no idea what you were selling. I couldn’t get past the image or the smell it conjured up. Do you really want to leave a sour taste in mouth after spending $5 million?