Milwaukee Biz Blog: This year’s best and worst Super Bowl ads

Which brands created the most buzz?

Brian Bennett


Super Bowl ads provide the opportunity to create a national buzz surrounding your brand and your message. Historically, those that realize this and create strategically targeted, original creative messaging can do very well. But many brands have missed the mark by trying too hard or misunderstanding the opportunity. The audience is expecting something special and spectacular. They will be disappointed if the advertiser doesn’t deliver.

As a professional looking at creative through a different lens than the consumer, my favorites likely won’t line up with the USA Today Ad Meter.

My litmus test for good TV ad creative:

•   Is it different than what you’ve seen?

•   Does it move you emotionally or make you react?

•   Does it change how you think about the brand (for the better)?

•   Do you want to see it again?

•   Are you going to talk about it?

Spots I loved:

Jeep 4×4: This spot had amazing production value, terrific music and rhythm and really helped take Jeep imagery to a new level.

AXE: I love the execution and the overall message. It changed my perception of the brand and kept my attention. I want to see it again.

Sun Trust:  I loved the interactive nature of “hold your breath.” It won’t be a fan favorite, but it is a solid, engaging and very creative concept. It does make you think highly of the bank that sent the message.

Audi: Not sure whether Audi’s “Starman” ad reminds me of my father or my son – but I think rich young men can appreciate this spot. It gives virtual permission to spend money on a ridiculously unnecessary and ungodly expensive vehicle. It’s a heartwarming message about an overpriced toy. But I love it. Given the timetable for production, it’s a coincidence, but the concept is made more poignant by the untimely death of David Bowie. This spot hits home. Love it.

Doritos: The ultrasound spot has great comedic value. Doritos has done well by crowdsourcing creative material through its ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ promotion. This rings true with the image the brand has developed over the years, and, as a father, I laughed out loud.

Kia: Christopher Walken shows us how to properly use celebrity talent with a crazy smart performance that is entertaining in his own odd way and 100 percent on point (only thing is, I’m not sure the car lives up to the promise). Love it.

Spots I hated:

Mountain Dew:  I get it. Combine all the stereotypical things that are found in Super Bowl commercials every year. Puppies. Monkeys. Babies. It seems like the perfect formula for a successful Super Bowl commercial. Except I wanted to blow up my TV after I saw this spot to clear my head from the damage it inflicted on my brain. Hated it. Key and Peele are over the top in this ad, making the message behind it almost impossible to discern. To me, this use of celebrity is more of a distraction than an asset.

Mini Cooper: I admire the social commentary that Mini Cooper is making around defy labels, but I don’t understand the tactics. The ad itself is less than inspiring and somewhat confusing with regard to the automobile.

T-Mobile: I hated this. Still confused what it means after seeing it three times. “Other wireless carriers ruin everything.” Huh? How does this improve the image of T-Mobile in any way? What a huge waste of money. Hated it.

LG: The “man from the future” ad with Liam Neeson is the weirdest use of a celebrity in a campaign since Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln ads. It’s just confusing and odd. I want nothing to do with this brand at this point. Hated it.

Brian Bennett is the founder of STIR Advertising & Integrated Messaging in Milwaukee (

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