I have been asked to review the Super Bowl ads this year. It is an honour to review some of the best work in the world. I must clarify that I have never made a Super Bowl commercial and I respect the effort and work that have been put into them.
However, some ads are better than others. That is a fact of advertising.
I made a few decisions: I will watch the game and the ads that run during it; I will try my best to avoid the teasers on YouTube and other tricks, because I want to simulate the experience of the football fan watching the game, not the advertising man.
Let’s get it on
The first commercial comes on right after the first touchdown by the Baltimore Ravens. The new Budweiser Black Crown (by Anomaly New York): a bunch of product benefits and description. Beautifully shot generic beer commercial.
Now M&M’s "love ballad" (BBDO NY). Nice new chapter to the personalities and stories they have given the candy. This time, the red one tells us what he won’t do for love and it is charming.
Audi "prom" (Venables Bell & Partners San Francisco). It took bravery to approve that spot. The result is engaging and entertaining and I admire that, at the end, they did not fall for the performance shots of the car that could have been easily edited in.
The Hyundai "team" commercial (Innocean) is a charming story. I figured the kid would find a team of seven to fit into the seven seats of the car, but kids, football and a funny ending are enough to make me like this one.
Go Daddy "perfect match" (Deutsch NY) gets the point across clearly. A long, improbable kiss does it, and I don’t think I’ll forget this one quickly.
Doritos "goat4sale" (user-generated) is a hit. Engaging story and a great twist. I’ll say this is one of my favourites, even this early in the game.
Pepsi Next "party" (TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles) seems to want to make the point that finding real cola taste is worthy of a celebration. I like the party, but the idea seems a bit old.
Coca-Cola makes a nice choice of music to show security cameras that have filmed people doing good things (Landia Buenos Aires). It feels like Coke wants to encourage people to do good things and hopes it catches on. Nice feel-good spot.
Now Oreo "whisper fight" (Wieden & Kennedy Portland). This one asks us to pick a side and go Instagram. I suspect there will be a few of these throughout the game, asking people to vote or visit websites. I personally don’t think it’s worth the time, but only the numbers will prove me right or wrong.
Toyota "wish granted" (Saatchi & Saatchi LA)(pictured below) uses a nice gimmick to sell a couple of unimportant features, but kept me engaged throughout.
Doritos "fashionista daddy" (user-generated) reminds me of a commercial by Agulla & Baccetti for Sprite, where a girl dresses up her dad. That ad was tremendously touching; this one is just funny – well, not really.
Calvin Klein has a guy with a perfect body showing off his underwear – or his body (Baron & Baron NY). Not very engaging or artful, from my perspective.
Cars.com (Mcgarrybowen NY) adds the missing drama of finding a good used car by presenting a wolf cub and his protective mother. Absurd, but I think it gets the point across.
Bud Light "journey" is very big (Translation NY). But Bud Light usually rewards us with amazing ideas, and this one is not it.
Go Daddy "yourbigidea.com" (Deutsch NY). This commercial has a good, old, simple idea and should make you think about registering your domain. It is a worthy Go Daddy Super Bowl spot.
In the Hyundai "stuck" spot (Innocean), there is, again, an idea. Clearly, it is better to be in front and, in order to be in front, you need extra power, hence the Sonata Turbo. Clear benefit, clear idea.
Volkswagen (Deutsch LA). I love how being happy is shown in a fun and engaging way. It could have been another Coke ad, but it is not. Respect for that.
And here comes another Coke ad… "mirage" (Wieden & Kennedy Portland). Deciding who wins should make us get online and participate to vote on who should win the Coke. Thank God the game is not so interesting, I think a lot of people will want to participate and go online.
Skechers "the chase" (Siltanen & Partners) (pictured) is great while the gazelle is being chased by the cheetah and the runner appears. I was surprised, but that was the end of the surprises. Everything else is predictable.
The Lincoln ad (Hudson Rouge) does not make me consider that car. I did notice the cameo appearance by Lincoln himself, but that did not help either.
This brings us to half-time
Oprah makes Chrysler a winner again. Beautiful writing, great direction and editing and a brilliant soundtrack make this 60-second ode (Global Hue) as powerful as the two Chrysler ads aired earlier in the game, but totally new again.
BlackBerry (Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO) shows us what its new smartphone can’t do and argues that, in 30 seconds, you can’t really show what it can do. I’m not sure the logic works for me, but the spot does look great.
The E*Trade baby is blowing up cash, and it is funny and convincing (Grey NY).
Bud Light "lucky chair" (Translation NY) is much better than "journey". I think it’s insightful and connects to the superstitious fans’ habits. I liked how the product was integrated into this one. I liked this one a lot.
Axe Apollo "lifeguard" (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) is a surprise. I love these special editions Axe launches every so often, but this is outstanding. And the surprise at the end, the silly astronaut suit that gets the girl, works well.
In Kia "hotbots" (David & Goliath LA), nothing is really funny, except maybe the move at the end. But it does not do it for me.
The Wonderful Pistachios Gangnam Style commercial (The Fire Station) is fun and memorable. I usually don’t like these tricks, but I must say this one will get a lot of votes.
Lincoln (Hudson Rouge) is nothing special; I hope the website is more engaging.
The Speed Stick commercial (Red Fuse NY) is trying really hard to be Axe. And I don’t think it succeeds at all.
Beck’s Sapphire "serenade" (Mother) has great music done by the singing black goldfish. No idea there, but fun to watch and listen to. Must try that beer soon.
The Ram ad falls into the well-written, epic, beautiful commercials Chrysler has been airing. The ode to the farmer is inspiring and powerful
The Budweiser "brotherhood" commercial gets personal and beautiful (Anomaly NY). I had not loved these spots in the past few years, but this one made me smile and cry again. Cheers.
The Ram ad (The Richards Group) falls into the well-written, epic, beautiful commercials Chrysler has been airing. The ode to the farmer is inspiring and powerful, and I think it sells Ram trucks and their toughness in a whole new way. Lovely.
Kia "space babies" (David & Goliath LA) explores where babies come from in a long story to sell yet another meaningless feature in a car. I am impressed by the craft, but not the idea or the result. I acknowledge the effort that was made to sell a car that is equal to all cars by telling interesting stories – just that this one does not do it for me.
Mercedes-Benz also manages to remind me of another Agulla & Baccetti commercial. This time, it was the deal with the devil it did for Renault Clio. The Mercedes ad (Merkley & Partners) is a super-production, with scenes reminiscent of other famous commercials and is also very predictable.
Samsung Galaxy tried. Yes, it tried and even got LeBron James to appear on a tablet. The theatre is fine, but the commercial is annoying (72andSunny LA).
At this point, the game is incredibly exciting. One minute later, it is practically over. So I guess the ratings are dropping dramatically now. Let’s wait and see who got the Coke.
Jose Miguel Sokoloff is the president of the Lowe & Partners Global Creative Council and the co-chairman and chief creative officer at Lowe-SSP3