Monday, February 03, 2020

Super Bowl 54: My Favorite Ads

After a couple of belated ads hit USA Today's Ad Meter, I ended up watching - and rating - 62 commercials prepared and paid for and televised during the 2020 Super Bowl.  This is the sixth straight year I've been a member of this consumer rating panel and this year we agreed on about 70% of the Top Ten commercials. 

Of the 62, I felt about 13 (21%) were able to be rated "good" or higher, and that's a step up from previous years, so thank you, Madison Avenue or whomever produces these spots now. 

I did notice a definite uptick in the number of celebrity endorsements this year. Seems like every product was able to find some Hollywood star, from M.C. Hammer to Rainn Wilson to Chris Evans and Sylvester Stallone and Sam Elliott to Bill Murray and Jason Momoa to shill for one product or another.

Some commercials were just baffling to me. The Planters "Baby Nut" commercial, for one. I had no clue what was going on. I found out later that Planters Nuts had apparently "killed off" it's monocle-wearing cane-toting Mr. Nut character as an homage to Iron Man's death in the last Avenger's movie. They stopped the campaign momentarily after Kobe Bryant's death, but re-started it for the Super Bowl, intending to bring the Mr. Nut character back in his entirety in the fullness of time. But the commercial itself was utter nonsense.

Another that baffled me was Audi's "Let It Go" with Maisie Williams. What an electric car has to do with a heatwave and a traffic jam is beyond me, aside from her getting to sing "the cold never bothered me, anyway" as a trade-off on her Game of Thrones WinterFell character. Surely I must have missed something.

I could go on ... Pringles, TurboTax, Heinz, Sabra's infamous hummus ad, Winona Ryder for Squarespace, Pop-Tarts ... please just make them stop. You have to wade through a lot of, well, god-awful tripe to find the occasional 30 to 60 seconds of creativity, wit, imagination, and a dash of heart.

Normally, I only give you my Top Five picks, because well, that's all I can find worrthy of presenting. But this year I'll run down my Top Ten because yes, there were that many that I thought were worth sharing. I should also mention that this year my wife watched every commercial with me and we voted together, averaging our vote when we disagreed.

#10 ... Walmart: Famous Visitors
This is one that might have been rated higher if I were voting by myself, being the huge Sci-Fi nerd that I am. But my wife's vote brought it down some, as she didn't geek out nearly as much. Still, she recognized most of the characters and thought the ending was cute.

#9 ... The NFL: Next 100
The National Football League celebrated their 100th year in business this year and they showed off with this nearly 3-minute commercial that ended with the cast delivering the game ball - live - to the stadium in Miami. The commercial featured current and past legends of the game. It may have even topped the show stopper the league put together last year. The rest of the professional sports world should go to school on how this sport markets itself.

#8 ... Doritos: Cool Ranch
There is so much to like about this commercial.  Let's start with just the very idea of Sam Elliott dancing to "Old Town Road." I have already begun training my mustache.

#7 ... Verizon: Amazing Things 5G Won't Do
It's a good reminder that technology doesn't do everything for us. That it needs people to drive it and be willing to be the heart behind it. Yeah, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I admit it.

#6 ... Rocket Mortgage: Comfortable
Now, some people were creeped out by this commercial. We loved it. Honestly, we're not big fans of Rocket Mortgage, but that Jason Momoa was willing to poke HUGE fun of his tough guy image ... well, that we were over the moon about.

#5 ... Hyundai: Smaht Pahk
We loved this commercial. Excuse me, commehshahl. The celebrities were clearly having fun, the repartee was charged, flowing, and hilarious.  And we still sometimes do our best wicked awful Boston dialect. The behind the scenes video, however, said they wrote 340 scripts before they went with this one. With over 100 million viewers for the Super Bowl, I guess they felt they had to get it just right.

#4 ... Reese's: Take 5 Rock
So how many idioms can you fit into 30 seconds? Reese's takes a crack at finding out. Every single one made us laugh. The split second reactions come so fast and are so spot on you will need to watch it again just to catch them all. Beautifully done and the reason it cracked our Top Five. 

#3 ... Jeep: Groundhog Day
I'll tell you right now this was voted the #1 commercial of the Super Bowl nationwide by Ad Meter panelists. And it came close for us. It was almost like a little movie sequel but this time the Groundhog was a complicit character.

#2 ... Amazon: Before Alexa
It says much that Amazon has enough money to pay for a 90-second Super Bowl spot instead of the standard 30- or 60-second commercial, but you get more story and, well, yucks for your bucks by doing so. And I loved the little twist at the end with Ellen's favorite song.

#1 ... Google: Loretta

Yes, I'm a sentimental softie and an old fool and undoubtedly still grieving the death of my father these three years past.  But this commercial, that sound track, those images, that narration, Lord, have mercy.  If nothing else, this commercial has sparked an interest in learning new ways to use my Google Home Assistant.


I want to give the creative people from Tide's advertising agency a shout out. They spent their money well. All throughout the game poor Charlie was trying to get a stain out of his shirt and he kept popping up in other ads - for Bud Light/Knight, The Masked Singer, Wonder Woman '84, - and when he finally did get the stain out, well ...

I should also mention you can see all the ratings from all around the country for **all** the ads over at Ad Meter.

Until next year ....


Mark's Musings is published on an occasional basis but that may change without notice. This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. I also enjoyed Anthony Anderson and T-Mobile's "Mama" commercial.