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Super Bowl Campaign Review: The best and worst 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 creatives to critique some of the world's biggest ads - including Tourism Australia's Crocodile Dundee hoax - and rate them out of 10.

Brand: Tourism Australia
Agency: Droga5
The Verdict: A winning ad with lots of ‘talkability’

Heath Collins, creative director, Cummins&Partners, says:

Collins says the ad is a winner

“Can they make this? Can they just make it for reals? Surely they’re almost obliged to now. Aussie Tourism’s had some sweet form in the past, and this one sure seems like another winner. The pre-released trailer was slick enough to be believed (even if the ad world may have smelled a Barramundi), and the bevvy of Aussie A-listers had the internet in a whirl for the days previous. Some of us were wondering how they were going to let the cat out of the bag, but I thought they handled the mid-ad reveal during the spot well, with a pretty funny record scratch.

“Ads like this make me feel like a punter again, out of the ad world, just sittin’ there with a dumb smile on my face without cynicism or judgement.”

Rating: 9/10

Richard Ralphsmith, founder and executive creative director, DPR&Co, says:

Ralphsmith says the ad could have included more Australian attractions

“It’s good. A proper Super Bowl commercial. It’s very much at home in this environment – a big commercial with big stars for a big country on the biggest commercial stage on Earth. I hope it works.

“The pre-launch PR was strong too, and it has a huge built-in earned media component, with its will-they-or-won’t-they-make-the-movie talkability. I hope they do make the movie. A few little caveats, just because I’ve got words to spare. It could have included a richer variety of Australian attractions. Melbourne doesn’t feature. Also, they should have chucked Dame Edna in there somewhere. Maybe as Governor General.”

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Tide
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York
The Verdict: It’s everything Super Bowl advertising should be

Collins says:

“This definitely seems to be rocking everyone’s socks this year, and fair enough. Nice insight. One of my pet hates is unrealistically new and clean wardrobe in ads. One of my other pet hates is people eating over the phone…but that’s a story for another Mumbrella article. The ad does good funny; dryly interrupting and shutting down people is funny. They had plenty of fodder in multiple Super Bowl ad tropes to work with and they’re all handled well. But of course the real kicker is using the insight to hijack the rest of the ads to come. ‘Watch and see’ – pretty cool.”

Rating: 9/10

Ralphsmith says:

“I love it when a leader acts like a leader. Leaders talk about owning the category. Tide fully owns it here, and then goes on to own half a dozen other categories as well. The launch ad starts off funny and gets funnier. David Harbour is a brilliant choice of talent.

“There are lots of lovely executional one-percenters. The little sing-song ‘Tide ad’ stealing the last two notes of the Old Spice jingle is gold. You just know that all around America people are asking ‘Are they allowed to do that? Did they get Old Spice’s permission?’ This campaign is everything Super Bowl advertising should be: big, expensive, ambitious and funny. It owned the Super Bowl.”

Rating: 9/10

Brand: Amazon
Agency: Lucky Generals and D1
The Verdict: It was okay but it leaves a dirty taste in your mouth

Collins says: 

“Mmmmmyeahhh??….. I’m kiiind of on board… The idea of Alexa losing her voice is funny enough, but I just reckon the talent choices seem a bit first-thoughty. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sir Anthony as much as the next person, but if most people were tasked with making a list of people that would be funny/freaky/angry/outrageous to be the voice of Alexa, then I reckon Hannibal Lector and Gordon Fucking Ramsay would be on that list within the first half hour. Is it Super Bowl worthy though Heath? Yeah probably, it’s suitably expensive.”

Rating: 6/10

Ralphsmith says:

“Before seeing this ad, I felt that virtual assistants were insidious, Orwellian home invaders, wrenching away every last skerrick of our autonomy and harvesting data for nefarious purposes.

“Now, I feel that they’re insidious, Orwellian home invaders, wrenching away every last skerrick of our autonomy and harvesting data for nefarious purposes. If you were Amazon, wouldn’t you try to allay concerns like this? Yes, you would. That’s because you’re a normal person, not an apparatchik at a corporate behemoth intent on global domination.

“But quibbles aside, back to the ad.

“It started off okay. I was waiting for it to surprise me and go from good to great, but it didn’t. When ads are really, really expensive, and just ok, it leaves a bit of a dirty taste in your mouth.

“Plus the Anthony Hopkins bit completely freaked me out. In a Kubrikesque kind of way. Then there’s the end line from Alexa “Thanks guys. I’ll take it from here”. It’s like they’re trying to humanise Alexa, but this does the opposite, making the operating system less loveable than the people (Hopkins excepted) who were doing her job.

“Other than that, I was fully into it.”

Rating: 5/10

Brand: Febreze
Agency: Grey New York
The Verdict: The ad was ‘fine’ but tries too hard to be funny

Collins says:

“It’s pretty good. Solid. Fine. Can’t fault much about it as an ad. Tried and true advertising method, executed pretty nicely, with a catchy #hashtag I’m sure they can do plenty of stuff with down the track. Just feels a bit like a ripper ad for any time of year, rather than a Super Bowl ad. Cast Michael Cera or someone, as ‘Dave’, and I dunno, maybe Nick Offerman for the Dad, then maybe you’re talkin’.

Rating: 7/10

Ralphsmith says:

“You know when someone’s so good at something they make it look easy? Like Federer on the backhand? Or this guy on the backhand? This ad isn’t like that.

“It tries really hard to be funny, as if the creative team watched a bunch of funny commercials and tried to be like them, but didn’t pull if off, settling for a comfortable “meh”. But you can tell that they think they made something funny. Which makes it even more unfunny.

“Then there’s that series of supers, at the end of which you’ve lost track of the story:
1. Dave isn’t at your Super Bowl Party.
2. But everyone else is.
3. Is your bathroom ready?

“Hang on, what was the ad about again? Something to do with stink?”

Rating: 4/10

Brand: Kia
Agency: David&Goliath
The Verdict: It has a slappable tag line with an unclear target market

Collins says:

“Nup. Sorry. This is where my unbridled positivity comes to an end. If this ad were a person, it’d be the singer from Maroon 5. ‘Powered by youth’ is a tagline I wanna slap. In fact I’d like to slap this entire ad. I guess the prop was something like ‘The car that’ll make you feel young’, so I get what they’ve done with Stephen Tyler literally turning back time and stuff, but jeez, it’s just all so blurghh. For a start, it’s a pretty nifty looking car and I feel like I hardly get to see it.

“Secondly, who is the target market for this car if the line at the end is “feel something again”? Jeepers, I feel sorry for them. And then there’s Stephen Tyler’s stupid expressionless CGI head. I dislike this ad more with each watch. Apart from that though, it’s great.”

Rating: 2/10

Ralphsmith says:

“Look, it’s pretty good. The ending was unexpected. The idea of the car reversing Steven Tyler back to his heyday is ok. But I don’t LOVE it, and perhaps that’s because it’s just a little bit sad. Buying a sports car to solve a midlife crisis is a truth we all know, but it’s one of those truths that are best left unsaid. Unless you’re going to subvert it in some way, which this ad doesn’t.

“And ‘Feel something again’? That line just makes it sadder. If you’re a middle-aged guy and you want to feel the way you did 20 years ago, you’re probably a menace to society.

But I don’t want to get too down on it.”

Rating: 6/10

  • As told to Abigail Dawson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email abigail@mumbrella.com.au
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