The Super Bowl is known for three things: the game, the halftime show, and the commercials.
Every year, news outlets and pundits put together their lists of the Best and the Worst Super Bowl Ads. Not to be outdone, we created our own Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads list, but, with a nod to FiveThirtyEight, we made a “Best Of” Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads list.
After compiling 17 different lists from different online publications, here are the rankings. The scoring methodology is at the end of the article:
TOP 10—THE BEST SUPER BOWL ADS:
1- HEINZ – “Wiener Stampede”; SCORE: 34.59
2- AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO – “AvosInSpace”; SCORE: 31.06
3- AUDI – “Commander”; SCORE: 26.82
4- BUDWEISER – “#GiveADamn”; SCORE: 24.12
5- NFL – “Super Bowl Babies”; SCORE: 22.59
6- HYUNDAI – “Ryanville”; SCORE: 18.71
7- HYUNDAI – “First Date”; SCORE: 13.18
8- COCA COLA – “Hulk vs. Ant Man”; SCORE: 10.29
9- AMAZON ECHO – “Baldwin Bowl”; SCORE: 10.06
10- TOYOTA – “The Longest Chase”; SCORE: 7.41
The main takeaway from our Best of the Best list is “comedy always wins.” Actually, to clarify, “comprehensible comedy always wins.” As we will see with our Worst of the Worst list, not all comedy works. In addition to comedy, smart celebrity endorsements were clear winners, such as Helen Mirren in “#GiveADamn” for Budweiser, Ryan Reynolds in “Ryanville” for Hyundai, and Kevin Hart in “First Date” for Hyundai.
All but two of our top 10 ads were comedic. Audi’s “Commander,” was a tribute to David Bowie, and Coca Cola’s “Hulk vs. Ant Man,” was a little funny, but mainly cracked the top 10 for its sharp graphics and clever Marvel partnership.
The NFL was the surprise advertiser to make the top 10. The organization rarely runs a splashy commercial during its own championship, but with their recent “Football is Family” campaign, the timing was perfect to run a funny commercial about the babies conceived in a city after their team wins the Super Bowl.
BOTTOM 10 – THE WORST SUPER BOWL ADS
1- ASTRAZENECA – “ENVY”; SCORE: -13.06
2- PERSIL PROCLEAN – “#1 Rated”; SCORE: -7.76
3- LG – “Man from the Future”; SCORE: -6.18
4- QUICKEN ROCKET LOANS – “What We Were Thinking”; SCORE: -6.18
5- COM – “Moving Day”; SCORE: -5.76
6- JUBLIA – “Best Kept Secret”; SCORE: -4.94
7- XIFAXAN – “Xifaxan”; SCORE: -4.94
8- SKITTLES – “The Portrait”; SCORE: -4.59
9- MOUNTAIN DEW – “Puppet Monkey Baby”; SCORE: -3.82
10- BUTTERFINGER – “Bolder Than Bold”; SCORE: -3.71
The main takeaway from our Worst of the Worst list is twofold: The Super Bowl is not the place for constipation or diuretics, and, more generally, people do not tolerate bad storytelling. The reviewer on Forbes put this best:
“Let’s face it: most TV ads are boring, unoriginal, manipulative, and pandering, and sometimes they treat us like five-year-olds. Some, however, are beautiful pieces of artistic branding that deserve our appreciation – and our sharing, far beyond the medium of television.” Here is the article
Just because they are commercials, there is no excuse for low quality. “Puppet Monkey Baby” may have generated the most social media noise according to iSpot, but it wasn’t all positive sentiment. In addition to Mountain Dew’s lazy commercial, LG and Apartments.com utilized the go-to-celebrity endorsements model as some of our top 10 did, but paired these celebrities with storylines that baffled both consumers and critics alike.
After the rankings were set, we looked at the accuracy by publisher site, to gauge which site performed the best in identifying the winners and losers of Super Bowl 50 commercials.
Surprisingly, Ad Age, the leading global source of marketing and media news, was the least accurate in ranking these ads according to popular opinion. In defense of Ad Age, their rankings most likely were more geared towards ranking by their perceived effectiveness rather than most publications which ranked by pure enjoyment.
In any case, see how each site performed below:
** – these sites had more comprehensive lists, but to avoid over-weighting these lists, we took only the top and bottom 20 of their lists. We added two additional for Ad Age, as there were ties among their top and bottom lists.
We collated 17 different “Best of” and 15 different “Worst of” Super Bowl ads lists. The adjusted score above is based on the ranking each commercial received per publisher, weighted to reward those on “best of” lists and penalize those on “worst of” lists. We also gave more points to commercials that were rated higher on longer lists, since the publisher vetted more commercials before ranking, making the ranking more meaningful. We then weighted the score by total exposure among the sampled websites. This was to penalize those commercials that ranked high on one website, but were not ranked on any other sampled websites, while rewarding commercials that may have varied rankings, but are featured across numerous websites. For sites that did not offer a specific ranking, each commercial scored as if they were all ranked last on said list. Since the adjusted score is not based on an average, but on summation, commercials are not adversely affected for being featured on a list of unranked commercials, however it is not as impactful as being ranked, as previously detailed.