A Concise Review and Grade for (Almost) Every Super Bowl 50 Commercial

7 min read

Super Bowl Ads are once-a-year opportunity to make an impression on hundreds of millions of people. They’re an American institution. An opportunity for marketers to bring their best stuff.

But most are middling. Some are terrible. A few are great.

Here’s my knee-jerk take on almost every ad (inevitably I missed a couple while dancing around after Von Miller’s strip sacks) shown during this year’s big game, from best to worst.

 Snickers: “Marilyn”

I don’t think Snickers will ever get rid of this ad campaign, and they shouldn’t. It’s just so damn good. And Willem Defoe is so at home in drag. A

Doritos: “Ultrasound”

Does it make me weird if I say I love this? I don’t care. I love this. A

Audi: “Commander”

It’s a generic metaphor. But this ad is executed beautifully. My only complaint is that nobody that old, not even an astronaut, drives like that. A

Death Wish Coffee: “Storm a’ Brewin”

Any commercial that invokes the Halls of Valhalla is okay by me. A-

Dollar Shave Club: “Zeke”

The first three seconds of this commercial are so good. It’s all in the eyebrow lift. A-

Shock Top: “Unfiltered Talk”

Some solid tit-for-tat right here. I can always go for some old-school joaning. B+

Acura: “What He Said”

When you’re selling a car as badass as an NSX, you don’t need to say much. Nice shots, sexy car, cool ad. B+ 

Axe: “Find Your Magic” 

You don’t see a lot of male empowerment ads, but this is a solid commercial. A clever concept that works. B+

Honda: “A New Truck to Love”

Talking animals might be played out, but singing animals clearly aren’t. B+

Jack in the Box: “Declaration of Delicious”

More talking animals. Regardless, I like the jingoism invoked here: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of burgers. B

Pantene: “Strong is Beautiful”

Nothing spectacular, but a simple, sweet commercial. B

Doritos: “Dogs”

Not real creative, but nice and jaunty. At least the dogs don’t talk. Amirite? B

Avocados: “Aliens” 

Doesn’t sell me on the product, but who doesn’t love a good Scott Baio joke? Well played, avocados. B

Heinz: “Weiner Stampede”

Dumb, yes—but I’ll buy it. The people who came up with the child as a little ketchup packet are no doubt very pleased with themselves. B

Toyota: “The Longest Chase” 

A good concept that cleverly shows the benefits of the car. Unfortunately, people will still drive Priuses fifteen miles per hour under the speed limit and stop at every yellow light. B

Wix.com: “Start Stunning”

I can always get down with a good Old Spice parody. Otherwise kind of “meh.” B-

Hyundai: “The Chase”

I’m over talking animals, but this spot has a nice juxtaposition between serious and goofy. B-

Fitbit: “Dualities”

Some cool editing, but I’m not sure I need to start swinging around kettle bells to more effectively stow away my carry-on luggage. B- 

Schick: “Robot Razors”

If Michael Bay directed a razor commercial, this would be it. C+ 

Kia: “Walken Closet”

Christopher Walken’s inflection never gets old, but not great otherwise. Should’ve been an ad for Ferrari. C+ 

T-Mobile: “Restricted Bling”

This commercial misses a big opportunity. Drake really should’ve sung all those extra lyrics. C+ 

Colgate: “Every Drop Counts” 

A PSA that plays out a little heavy-handedly. But I appreciate what they’re trying to do. C+ 

Pepsi: “Joy of Pepsi”

A standard branding spot with a nice homage to Madonna. C+ 

LG: “Man from the Future”

When Liam Neeson talks seriously, it usually ends with everyone in the room getting shot. No such luck here. C

Paypal: “New Money”

There’s no such thing as new money anymore: The old white men have it all. Vote for Bernie! C 

Budweiser: “Helen Mirren”

Helen Mirren would never drink a Budweiser. C 

Budweiser: “Not Backing Down” 

Budweiser continues its assault on craft beers. Get over it, guys. C-

Hyundai: “First Date” 

Kevin Hart is annoying, so it’s no surprise that this Hyundai commercial is annoying, too. And that “car finder” feature is pretty stupid. C- 

Pokemon: “20th anniversary”

Confusing as hell. But my 12-year-old self totally gets it. C- 

Adobe: “The Gambler” 

Semi-interesting setup, but no payoff. It tells me nothing about how Adobe will help me be a great marketer. D+

Mini Cooper: “Defy Labels” 

Did Mini just call their vehicle a gay, cute, chick car? I’m afraid people will miss the irony. D+

Quicken Loans: “Rocket Mortgage”

Push button, get mortgage? 2008 was only eight years ago, geniuses. D+ 

Victoria Secret: “Score More”

The only thing this commercial taught me was how to spell “lingerie.” And there wasn’t any. D 

Esurance: “Sweepstakes”

Dumb concept that goes for cheap laughs—gets none. Try harder. D

Skittles: “The Portrait”

Clearly, somebody thought this ad was a good idea. Clearly, that person is an idiot. D

SquareSpace: “Key and Peele”

Key and Peele are funny about 10% of the time. Welcome to the other 90%. D

Amazon: “Snack Stadium” 

A lazy excuse to get two celebrities in a room together. And what a shocker: Alec Baldwin telling people what to do. D 

Michelob: “Breathe”

A sweaty beer commercial: just one of the many reasons I do not drink Michelob Ultra. D 

Bud Light: “Bud Light Party”

By default, I hate any ad that assumes I love Paul Rudd. And what a crappy dick joke.  D-

SoFi: “Great Loans”

Definitely not a “great” concept. In fact, it’s a “horrible” concept. D- 

Apartments.com: “Goldblum and Weezy”

The marketing department has been hanging out with Lil’ Wayne too much.  D- 

Hyundai: “Ryanville”

Is this a commercial for hell? Because this is what I imagine hell to be like. F 

Mountain Dew: “Puppymonkeybaby”

Clearly created for people with room-temperature IQs. RIP, Mountain Dew. F

Toyota: “Heck on Wheels”

This is the Adolf Hitler of television commercials. I declare war against Toyota. F-