Campaign Review: The best and worst of 2019’s Super Bowl ads

Which Super Bowl ad was the best of the bunch, and which ad deserves a slap? In this special Super Bowl Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites two of the industry's most senior creative and strategists to critique some of the world's biggest ads and rate them out of 10.

Brand: Bud Light x Game of Thrones
Agency: Droga5
The Verdict: A brilliant collaboration – the best of the bunch

Alison Tilling, chief strategy officer, VMLY&R, says:

Tilling says: ‘What a brilliant, surprising tie-in’

“What a brilliant, surprising tie-in – and in the perfect epic moment and medium.

“While the overall Bud Light brand strategy of transparency and taste was better served by their other Super Bowl ad, ‘Corn Syrup’, this GoT effort was a gloriously brutal clash of light and dark, with dark apparently winning as everything got razed to the ground by – what else? – a dragon. It had some menace, but also some real humour and a bit of joy that here is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously partnering with a show that does.

“This was a teaser in the true sense, and while we wait with baited breath for the official trailer before the April season launch date (which the world is far more panicked about than the real life Game of Thrones that is the Brexit debacle), this will stay talked about, so there is a medium-term brand building tick there too.”

Rating: 8.5/10

Frank Morabito, ECD, Spinach, says:

Morabito says: ‘Bud Light HBO amalgam must be the best ad of the telecast’

“I haven’t seen every ad from this year’s Superbowl, but this Bud Light HBO amalgam must be the best ad of the telecast. Talk about plot twist. It’s deliciously deceitful and so fulfilling. Particularly, as I understand it, other Bud Light ads had screened earlier in the night. It’s a brilliant collaboration, Bud Light kills off the corny Bud Light Knight character and HBO announces the final Game of Thrones season in devastating style.”

Rating: 20 – 10 points each

Brand: Amazon Alexa
Agency: Lucky Generals
The Verdict: Ticks box after box with long-term branding potential

Tilling says: 

“So this was fun. Fun with undertones. The most compelling of this bunch, in my book.

“Proving the power and potential power of Alexa by having fun with fails, that’s interesting.

“Brought to life with some self-deprecating laughs hot on the heels of CES, that’s smart.

“Proof of robot with proof of human, that stays with you because it helps you ponder Alexa’s cultural role, without disappearing up its (her?) own arse… that’s brilliant. Alexa’s potential is clear here, but ‘she’ is not portrayed as a character in her own right, even unseen: she’s at the mercy of everyone from her inventors to Harrison Ford’s dog. Yet somehow that humanises her even more, by making her capable of the same errors as we ourselves are. Strategically this feels right for a longer-term brand build, too – it embodies the Amazon spirit of ‘always day one’, and hits a cultural nerve.”

Rating: 9/10

Morabito says:

“Nothing unexpected about the strategy or the creative construct of this Superbowl ad. And that’s precisely why, as our American friends would say, it’s so damn good. This Amazon ad just keeps ticking box after box. Simple premise? Tick. Surprising cameos? Tick. Good jokes? Tick. Of the moment music track? Tick. Reward for watching? Tick. It’s a great example of doing the basic things right. Of course, a big budget helps, but many have squandered bigger.”

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Google
Agency: Creative Labs
The Verdict: The verdict is still out

Tilling says:

“This is an elegant gut-punch of an answer to a very difficult brief: realise the power of a tool that’s been part of Google for 12 years, that is used by so many to do something seemingly so simple, but that sits at the heart of what it is to be human.

“This is so nearly another lovely brand purpose manifesto montage, but it has just enough meaningful shades of grey to elevate it. Strategically, going for the heart of the power of words – even the simplest ones – to oil the wheels of life and humanity was right, simple, and executed extremely well.

“It was maybe one more laugh or gut punch away from being truly amazing, but instead of using a personal story to illustrate ubiquity, it revelled in ubiquity and made that feel personal.

“For that, (nearly) all the feels.”

Rating: 9/10

Morabito says:

“Bi ene zar surtalchilgaany talaar bükhniig üzen yaddag. According to Google Translate that’s Mongolian for, ‘I hate everything about this ad’. It was so sickeningly saccharin and contrived I had an overwhelming desire to brush my teeth immediately after watching it. From the moment you see the first few scenes and hear the opening words of the schmaltzy script you just know how it’s going to end. As they say in Lithuania, ‘koks svaistymas’.”

Rating: 1/10

Brand: Turkish Airlines
Agency: Anomaly
The Verdict: Truly cinematic but its point is unclear

Tilling says: 

“What to make of this?

“It’s beautifully shot, but then again, it’s Ridley Scott. There is a nice-looking airport and some large seat, but then again, it’s business class.

“Istanbul feels like a melting pot of cultures, but then again, it’s Istanbul. It’s tense… but then again, as I watched my tension focused on whether and how it was all going to get to a point, rather than on the story itself.

“Therein lies the problem. I’m confused about whether this is an ad for working in the intelligence services, exploring Istanbul or a masterclass in airfield shots. I also question using a 30 second ad to direct to a six-minute film during an event like the Super Bowl – doesn’t feel like the best way to amplify the message.

“Feels like this is a brand buckling a little under the pressure of making a Super Bowl ad. Seems money can’t necessarily buy you clarity.”

Rating: 6/10

Morabito says:

“The thinking goes, let’s create a beautiful six-minute ‘film’ with an intriguing storyline that sells Turkish Airlines by selling the stunning city of Istanbul. Oh, and we’ll get Ridley Scott to direct it. Brilliant, job done, another bottle of Dom anyone? This ad is truly cinematic in every way, and that’s why it lost me way before quarter time. Come to think of it, quarter time breaks would have been welcome relief. But wait, perhaps the extended running time was intended to make a genius observation about the nature of Gridiron, that is, why does 60 minutes of game time take over three hours to play? Nah, it’s not that clever.”

Rating: 4/10

Brand: Audi
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
The Verdict: An unexpected and funny twist but lacked strong insights

Tilling says:

“I wanted to love this more than I did.

“It’s a ‘proper ad’, in that it relies on a good story and product truths, in the middle of a celebrity-studded free for all. And I’ll be honest, I like the somewhat odd yet bold move of featuring the Heimlich manoeuvre to show off your car, rather than the usual, ya know, driving experience.

“But in the contrivance lay the issue for me. Being part of the Super Bowl, with its celebs and tie-ins and hits and the all-round epics of the event, means that any ad making a more traditional storytelling play needs to be bang on with the insight and the pay-off.

“The pay-off and the humour here weren’t quite strong enough for the contrivance to work.

“It didn’t feel like a car ‘to die for’. This spot struck a chord with fellow Super Bowl advertiser ‘Planters’ character Mr Peanut, though, who started a GoFundMe for the cashew guy to get an Audi without the near-death experience.”

Rating: 7/10

Morabito says:

“This ad begins by looking like it’s from the Google Translate cookbook, but then it flips the recipe on its head. Until that moment, it’s all pretty pictures, dramatic music, big hugs and shiny new metal. The twist is unexpected and funny. I certainly didn’t see it coming and it put a real half-smile on my face. The supers at the end complete the story, but extra points go to the petit tagline that makes a big claim, ‘Electric has gone Audi’.”

Rating: 7/10


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