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Super Bowl Ad Favorites

by | Feb 3, 2020

Capitol Communicator asked a number of regional agencies to share their opinion about their favorite ads. Here is what some of them had to say:

Matt Smith, Creative Director, Smith Gifford: “Hands down the best one was for Hulu and Tom Brady. It was dead on. Used a sports star, and played off some of the real drama about him. Smart, Creative, and perfect timing. many companies try way way too hard and it smacks of desperation.”

Pum Lefebure, Creative Director, Design Army:Google’s “Loretta was very emotional and memorable. Nobody wants to cry during superbowl (afterwards maybe!) but the spot definitely put life into perspective and what’s really important. Be The One spot by Microsoft was very powerful. The story resonates and inspires woman of all ages and cleverly integrates the Microsoft tablet into the ad. As a mom, I want to share that with my daughter.

Kenny Rufino, EVP and Creative Director, REQ: “Some agencies don’t seem to understand that casting a celebrity doesn’t equal a concept. There was so much noise and insipid humor that after a while it was refreshing to see Google’s genuinely moving and thought-provoking spot. And Bill Murray. BILL. MURRAY. Bill Murray wins everything.”

Dan Pardue, Agency Producer, Planit: “My favorite spot of the night was definitely Amazon’s #BeforeAlexa by Droga5. The production value in the piece is incredible, flashing through so many different period pieces and all of them looking top notch. I also love the mix of period realism in the production design with the colloquial nature of the copy. Each role is perfectly cast and every segment had me laughing at least once, with the call back to the jug joke at the end really paying off. Mostly, I just really liked that Portia DeRossi is the only person with a decent set of teeth in the whole spot.

Matt McDermott, Associate VP, Creative Strategy, idfive:Fav: Budweiser’s Typical Americans – Really did a good job of turning what makes Americans stereotypically annoying on its head. And extra points for making us forget for a minute that Budeweiser isn’t even an American beer anymore. Least Fav: The Jonah Hill/Martin Scorsese spot for Coca-Cola Energy. They have all that comedic kinetic energy stored up, and they let it eke out like a fart in church. I joked that I was going to spite-drink a sixer of Pepsi after watching that spot. Pepsi found that adorable: https://twitter.com/pepsi/status/1224135768228147202 And my guilty pleasure: The Turbo Tax knee-knocking dance. It was so weird and so simple and I couldn’t look away. It’s the kind of silliness that burrows in your brain.”

Jessica Brown, Creative Director, TBC: Car commercials are rarely at the top of my Super Bowl list, but this year I have to give it to the team behind Hyundai Sonata’s “Smaht Pahk.” Somewhere between the Boston accents and David Ortiz’s window cameo, the sedan’s parking features had me chuckling—and paying attention. While the commercial uses colloquial language, the repetition was funny and reinforced the automated parking in a memorable way. Can’t imagine I’m the only one who heard John Krasinski say “just hit the clicka, cah phaks itself” and thought “wow, Hyundai has this technology?” Wicked smart [smaht] approach to breaking the car commercial mold.

Lauren Leva, VP of Marketing Services, Grafik: Jeep: “Groundhog Day “There were three elements of this Jeep ad that made it my favorite one of the evening: 1) cultural relevance, 2) casting, and 3) a clear message. It was the only spot I saw that played off the fact that Superbowl Sunday fell on Groundhog Day this year. And while a lot of ads drew their inspiration from iconic movies (Mountain Dew’s spoof of The Shining, Squarespace’s homage to Fargo, etc.), this spot actually featured the original actor from the movie (even more impressively, this is the “first and last” national ad spot that Bill Murray has ever signed on to). The storyline tied the product in seamlessly without complicating the storyline or over-scripting like so many of the others we saw.”

Andy Blenkle, Vice President, Fors Marsh Group:“I tend to frown at advertising that disguise corporate truths rather than promote brand truths. The NFL and Google had spots of real emotional value, whose impact lessened when I considered the NFL’s past decisions with addressing social issues and Google’s complicated activities regarding individual privacy concerns. And, playing to stereotypes for a quick laugh is outdated. Olay’s ad enraged my “tween” daughter when its heroic female astronauts were somehow thoughtless enough to push an eject button on the spacecraft, in space, launching them to an inevitable death (my daughter takes her space facts seriously, but we still retweeted to push a dollar to Girls Who Code). I offer a nod to New York Life and Microsoft for messages with social meaning and product relevance. My ad choice that qualifies as “most effective?” With television spots served to a wide demo during a celebratory event— and food and snacks as a big part of the ritual—Cheetos earned my vote as a favorite Super Bowl ad. By creating a memorable, relevant and unexpected product launch ad, Cheetos played to situational strengths and caught a social media wave of support. Building upon cultural agreements that, “hey, Cheetos are fun to eat” and everyone shares the Cheeto-finger dilemma, Cheetos made the ad experience even more unforgettable with a classic, throwback song. Cheetos makes popcorn now? I’m in. I think product sales will increase. If so, advertising-mission accomplished.”

Rachel Caggiano, Group Managing Director, Ogilvy: Emotion and the Auto Industry were the biggest winners. We all loved – and balled over – Google’s ‘Loretta’ spot and we don’t care who knows. The fact that it was based on a true life story of a Google employee’s grandfather, successfully toed the line between sad and morbid, and featured tender storytelling with simple images, text phrases and movie snippets was pure brilliance. The New York Life ‘Agape’ ad also pulled heavily on the heartstrings, educated Americans about 4 different types of love, and nicely drew a connection between love and action – no small feat for an insurance company! Kudos to the creatives who saw how to take advantage of two big days at once: Jeep’s ‘Groundhog Day’ was nostalgic, hilarious, AND featured a cute, furry animal in a baby carrier on Bill Murray’s chest. Checks all the boxes! Hyundai’s ‘Smaht Pahk’ was a huge hit and really helped to position the Korean brand as an American thing. It would have been better if the Patriots were in the Super Bowl, but it still worked because of the ear-worm nature of the phrase and a great cast of celebrities. We stand for Rachel Dratch! Genesis ‘Going Away Party’ is interesting because we think it’s a watershed moment in establishing a separate brand marquee for Hyundai. Rather than coming out as Hyundai’s high-end model (like Toyota’s Lexus), they just leaned in and said ‘we’re not another luxury brand: we’re reinventing luxury’. The ‘sexiest man alive’ reference between Chrissy Teigen and John Legend scored the funniest moment of the night for us.

Thomas Sanchez, CEO, Social Driver: “We really loved the Alexa commercial featuring Ellen. We enjoyed it for its humor and connection back to what we do at Social Driver. We also thought the theme of the commercial played well across the large, diverse audience of the Super Bowl including current Alexa users who are always looking for someone or something to give commands to.”

Mike Smith, SVP, Public Relations, Yes&: I thought the best Super Bowl TV Ads were in the automotive category. USA TODAY agreed and listed the Jeep motors ad with Bill Murray as #1 on its Ad meter (see below). In fact, a recent news search shows over 300,000 additional earned media placements just this morning “talking” about the Groundhog Day redux. At Yes&, we are a PESO agency and therefore interested in how ads track with their social and digital campaign alignments, or are featured in additional earned media to amplify the paid message. At over $5 million per spot, for these advertisers it’s very important to gain additional traction and scale from digital and PR campaigns. We thought the ad for Hyundai and the “Smaht Pahk” feature for self-guided parking was very creative and among the best. It’s Memorable. Showcasing an amazing autonomous driving feature will help educate a new market. Bill Murray and the Groundhog’s Day riff for Jeep seems to have won the day? Here is what Rolling Stone had to say as media are raving about the spot: https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-news/bill-murray-groundhog-day-super-bowl-jeep-946669/ On this one, the sheer joy that actor Bill Murray expresses at having to wake up each morning to his new, orange Jeep (and the adventures he and the Groundhog will undertake) make it stellar. Both are the automotive category winners in our book.

Sarah Kennedy Hillmann, Creative Director, Subject Matter: Favorite 2020 Super Bowl Ad: Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” Better get this out of the way: I love both the brand Jeep and the movie Groundhog Day. The other spots never had a chance. But, am I proud of how much I enjoyed this ad? Not particularly. Overt nostalgia in advertising is kind of like pigs-in-a-blanket at a Super Bowl party — easy, beloved, and you feel a little sick when you’ve had too much. There may have been too many wienies at the party this year, but at least this one was conceptually sound. The Jeep Gladiator can save us from our own “Groundhog Day”-like ruts by turning mundane drives into new adventures. So yes, Jeep used my affinity for this classic rom-com to its advantage, and I liked it. Nostalgia, like nitrates, can be hard to resist.

Nicole DeMarco, Copywriter, Planit: “My favorite spot was the Jeep “Groundhog Day” commercial. In short, Bill Murray is an American treasure. Aside from that, this ad straddled the line between “successful spoof” and “ostentatious parody” perfectly. It evoked familiar Groundhog’s Day tropes without being corny or predictable. I laughed out loud at several points, out of macabre dramatic irony (“You’re gonna freeze to death!” “Who cares?”) and relatable empathy (“I don’t know where we parked! I was following you!”). Bonus: Anyone that can anthropomorphize (like this groundhog, complete with tiny helmet and folding chair) without being creepy or downright terrifying deserves a medal and a parade.”

And what others had to say:

AMADC: “The one that made the most impression was the Sabras Hummus ad, more so for their use of color than the celebrities. But hey, the combo works. I’m gonna go out and get me some Sabras hummus for lunch today.”

The Washington Post: The top five are Cheetos: “Can’t Touch This“, Doritos: “Old Town Road”, Google: “Loretta“, Pringles “Rick and Morty” and Snickers “Hi, Kale!”

….and last but not least check out all the ratings on
USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter :”Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” Wins

About the Author

Capitol Communicator

Capitol Communicator is a unique online and offline resource for Mid-Atlantic advertising, marketing, public relations, digital and media communications professionals. The e-magazine, e-newsletters and events bring together communications professionals, fostering community and providing important information; news; trends; education; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. Visit www.capitolcommunicator.com to learn more.


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