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DePaul Marketing Professor Reviews Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads

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This year’s Super Bowl once again highlighted advertising spots from some of the world’s top brands – BMW, Dorito and Expedia to name a few – racking up more than $6.5 million for 30 seconds of advertising time. But not all ads scored a touchdown, according to Associate Professor of Marketing Jim Mourey, a consumer behavior expert and book author. Below, Mourey lists his top three best and top three worst commercials that aired during the big event.

Best Top Three Ads:

Cutwater Spirits | Here’s to the Lazy Ones
Grade: A-

Bravo, Cutwater. You succeeded where Bud Light failed and managed to do so by making such simpler choices. First, contrasting the black and white commercial with in color cans that popped out thanks to said contrast. Second, actually showing the flavor names throughout the commercial. Third, leveraging clever humor. Fourth, actually tying the message of the commercial to the message of the product: sometimes simple, shortcut solutions are better – like getting bar-quality cocktails in a can instead of making a cocktail. Ending the spot with “Tiki Rum Mai Tai,” “Lime Margarita” and “Vodka Mule” prominently featured (in color) along with the brand name? Cutwater Spirits came to win this year, and they sure did cut into the competition.

Associate Professor of Marketing Jim Mourey
Associate Professor of Marketing Jim Mourey
Google | Lizzo in Real Tones
Grade: A-

This spot begins with a simple statement: historically, camera technology has not accurately represented darker skin tones. We see examples of Black people in photos that fail to capture their faces or bodies clearly while voices narrate the struggle they have had with yearbook photos and skin color in their personal photos.

This one is powerful. As someone who studies artificial intelligence (and its downsides), it is great to see a company calling out this shortcoming of modern phone camera technology. The messaging is simple, emotional and super effective. Good for Google for choosing to spend its marketing budget to share this message – they could have advertised any number of products or features, but they chose this. That’s important.

Toyota | Start Your Impossible / Brothers
Grade: A-

Anyone with siblings will feel this one right in the heart. This is the kind of emotional punch we expect from Toyota ever since their incredible Jessica Long commercial in 2021. It’s not a perfect commercial – we don’t really get a clear feel for Toyota here (the company has strategically shifted away from being just a car company to a “mobility company” in recent years, which helps better explain the recent commercials). Still, this one is emotionally engaging and is likely to foster positive feelings toward the brand. Anheuser Busch, maybe you should hire this agency.

Worst Top Three Ads:

Bud Light | NEXT
Grade: F-

What kind of a name is “Next”? I’ll tell you: Pepsi NEXT. The product ran for nearly five years in recent memory. What does “Zero in the Way of Possibility” mean other than there is zero chance that I like this commercial? This spot was a massive fail. Even the storyline is inconsistent. What does the escapism in the beginning have to do with the product? One could make the leap that we are escaping from the traditional beer products that have carbs, but this commercial is making the viewer work too hard, especially during a loud, distracting Super Bowl party. Bud Light marketing team: give me a call – I’m here to help.

Salesforce | The New Frontier
Grade: F

Talk about a muddled message. Is the point that we need to focus on saving the Earth? Or is it that we need to be more inclusive? Or is it that we need to focus on all the problems on the planet before looking elsewhere? One can sort of see some messaging in this, but then where does Salesforce fit in? And why is this a frontier? And can we please have one year go by where Matthew McConaughey is not in a Super Bowl commercial?

Wallbox | Supercharged Seth
Grade: F

I know Super Bowl commercials are expensive, but if you’re going to buy a 15-second spot, you really need to make the most of it. This commercial flew by so quickly that I forgot I even watched it. Nothing about it is memorable. What’s worst is I don’t understand why Wallbox is so reassuring for a man who was struck by lightning and is leery when it comes to electricity. No creative spark here.

Reviews by Jim Mourey | Edited by Jaclyn Lansbery