College of Business > News & Events > DePaul Marketing Professor Lists Top Three Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads

DePaul Marketing Professor Lists Top Three Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl stock photo

Each year, advertisers shell out millions of dollars for ad placement during football’s biggest event of the year – the Super Bowl. This year’s event was no exception. According to AdAge, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl LIV costs about $5.6 million, compared to about $5.3 in 2019. But were these ads worth the money?

Jim Mourey, assistant professor of marketing at the Driehaus College of Business, analyzes the Super Bowl’s three best and worst ads.

Mourey teaches consumer behavior and is the author of three books: “Urge: Why You Really Want What You Want (And How To Make Everyone Want What You've Got)” and “Fusion: A Modern 'How-To' Guide For Integrated Marketing Strategy (From Creative Spark To Synergistic Explosion) and “The Relationship Diet: How to Create Happy, Healthy and Valuable Relationships (at Home, at Work and Everywhere You Go) (2018).”

Best Top Three Ads:

Amazon | “Before Alexa
Grade: A

Once the audience gets the joke and realizes it is being repeated in different contexts, they naturally become more curious and pay attention. Here, “Alexa,” or some form of the product’s name, is repeated no fewer than 12 times (or about once every 7.5 seconds), as well as the different commands Alexa can perform. The game is also to show how much better technology performs these tasks compared to humans, with specific references to fake news, flat Earthers/conspiracy theorists, and even impeachment.

Overall, it works and can be broken down easily to play after the game online and on TV.

Google | “Loretta
Grade: A

If you don’t cry watching this spot, you are a monster. From the overall theme to the music, from the imagery to the old man’s voice, this spot uses simplicity to pull you in and packs a powerful emotional punch. We get brand reinforcement through both the man saying “Google” constantly throughout the commercial, as well as from watching Google’s voice command in action (and, of course, the logo at the end). If I could change anything, I would probably replace the “little things” line with something more like, “Helping you remember what’s truly important,” or something that humanizes technology a bit, but overall this commercial is a gem.

Hyundai Sonata | “Smaht Pahk
Grade: A

Three beloved celebrities — John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch and Chris Evans — cover the comedy crowd, the superhero crowd, television folks, and fans of box office blockbusters. We get a repeatable “thing” happening with the use of “smaht pahk,” something folks watching can emulate and talk about. We get humor. We get the brand. We get an attribute about the car. What’s this? A famous athlete? Now we’ve got the sports audience paying more attention. Short, simple, funny — wicked smaht. It’s like modern day “What’s ahhhhhp?” but less annoying.

Worst Top Three Ads:

Budweiser | “Typical American
Grade: F

Um, no. While not as tone deaf as the Kylie Jenner Pepsi commercial, I had uncomfortable flashbacks to that spot. First, Americans aren’t that bad as a people and no one really claims that, so to make odd generalization about Americans always “touching other people’s stuff” or “showing up uninvited” is just, well, stupid. If you’re going to play stereotypes, play them: Americans are always eating too much, Americans are always loud on public transportation (true, ask the French), Americans dress like scrubs to go grocery shopping.

Then show me someone passing out food to homeless people (for the eating too much quip) and show me people protesting for women’s rights (for the too loud quip). At least make it make sense. In addition, don’t use Americans fighting for rights and protesting to make some point about your “typical beer.” If your goal is to fight the argument that Budweiser is boring in a market of innovations like White Claw, then maybe try making your product exciting again. Not impressed.

Heinz | “Four at Once
Grade: D

A few things on this one. First, a positive: the brand and product plays a central role for the last 10 seconds (one third) of the commercial. Good. Bad: does anyone really care if his/her ketchup isn’t Heinz? Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have familiar brand as opposed to something like “Granny Jane’s Mystery Red Sauce,” but unless Heinz has some hard market research to suggest otherwise, my guess is people just use the ketchup that is available and call it a day.

This isn’t a “Is Pepsi okay?” dilemma. And, finally, the four scenes are just too much for 30 seconds. Unless we can go watch each spot separately (and, even then, there is little motive to do so), it seems clear this spot would have been better if we could just focus on one scene and actually get more emotion out of the characters. Right now it’s a jumble of, “Who is that?” and, “Where are they?” and “Where’s that other group?” not to mention that the video is way too dark to see anything.

Saint Archer Gold | “Patience
Grade: F

Professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez skateboards around San Diego whistling a tune I did not recognize (apparently it’s “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses as performed by some other artist) looking for something that is apparently so popular it’s not in stock anywhere. We get an indirect glimpse at what is missing 33 seconds into a 60-second commercial, and it is not so easy to see/read. Finally, at 50 seconds, we get Saint Archer, and we see him carrying a case, and the text reads “Introducing a light beer worth holding out for.” We get Saint Archer Gold for two seconds.

Introduce? INTRODUCE? This is NOT how you introduce a new product. A boring commercial with a relatively unknown figure skateboarding around a town most Americans won’t recognize while calmly whistling a non-catchy song? Who thought this was a good idea? Then to not see anything about the brand until the last 10 seconds of the spot? Awful. Forgettable. I’d get my money back.