Super Bowl 2018 commercials: The five best and worst ads from Sunday's game
The NFL, Amazon, Tide and Budweiser nailed it on Super Bowl Sunday, but that Ram ad? Terrible
If you watch the Super Bowl mainly for the new commercials, you're in the right place.
While football fans had a thrilling (and somewhat maddening) game to enjoy on Sunday night, those who were more interested in the big game ads also had a lot to talk about.
By virtue of being one of the single biggest sporting events each year, the Super Bowl has massive viewership -- which also makes it one of the top marketing opportunities for different brands. Advertising during the game has become something of a competition in itself, as companies often use whatever resources they have at their disposal to make a splash. They'll often get the help of celebrities or use other strategies to get people talking about their brand.
For Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, a 30-second TV commercial cost, on average, more than $5 million. You read that right: Five million dollars.
Of course, just like there's always a winner and loser on the field, there's also typically winners and losers off of it. Not every marketing department strikes it rich with their ambitious Super Bowl ads, and sometimes bold approaches can backfire tremendously. It's a gamble.
So, which brands came away as winners and losers on Sunday night? Let's take a look at a handful of the best and worst ads to air nationally.
(Note: Although a number of exciting and buzzworthy film trailers debuted during the game, we elected to classify commercials and trailers as two different types of advertising, so you won't find those movie previews on the winners & losers lists. Sorry to all the Star Wars nerds, Marvel fans & Jurassic Park crazies.)
Tide - "It's a Tide Ad"
David Harbour and Tide essentially ran away with the Super Bowl commercial competition and did so without needing to get dirty at all. (Get it? Nailed that joke.) Their campaign theme this year was to mimic stereotypical ads of almost every genre in an effort to promote clean, stainless clothes. It was a very good promotional campaign starring one of America's most lovable current father figures. As an added bonus, nobody ate any of those damn pods.
NFL - "Touchdowns to Come"
The Giants may have had a rough season this year, but they had a great showing in the Super Bowl -- even if they didn't make the playoffs. This ad starring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham . The Giants are great at coming up with big performances in Super Bowls that the Patriots lose, as The New York Post .
Amazon - "Did Alexa Lose Her Voice?"
Amazon brought plenty of star power for their Super Bowl commercial promoting Alexa. In addition to Jeff Bezos, the company's super-rich founder and CEO, it also features a well-rounded stable of recognizable celebrities like Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins. The ad imagines the company's efforts to find a replacement if Alexa ever lost her voice, and it does so will pretty humorous results.
Budweiser - "Stand By You"
Budweiser went for the heartstrings with this ad about providing water to places across the United States that were impacted by natural disasters -- specifically Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and California. Skylar Grey's cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" (recorded specifically for the ad) was a nice touch that ramped up the dramatic, emotional angle. According to Budweiser, their Cartersville, Ga. brewery has provided more than 79 million cans of water for relief efforts since 1988, including two million last year.
Toyota - "Good Odds"
Rather that focus on promoting their vehicles, Toyota instead chose to spotlight Canadian alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft, an eight-time Paralympic gold medalist who was born missing a portion of her left arm and both legs below the knees. It's a pretty fantastic spot that places a focus on beating the odds through perseverance and hard work, and it will undoubtedly get more play during the upcoming Olympics, as Toyota is an official partner of the Games.
Ram - "Built to Serve"
Ram Trucks' ad featuring a Martin Luther King voiceover about the value of service was the most criticized spot of the night. Many people felt that it was a blatant commercial exploitation of the Civil Rights icon and -- given the current political and social climates in America -- that it was in poor taste. Although Ram insists that they worked with MLK's estate to receive approval for the ad, their spot also ignores the fact that, in a separate portion of the same speech, Dr. King warned about the deceptive tactics used by advertisers to get people to fall in line with a certain way of thinking.
Bud Light - "The Bud Knight"
Bud Light's 60-second Super Bowl spot is a continuation of the battle commercial that they've been running in recent weeks. In it, the battle comes to a standstill when "The Bud Knight" shows up and carries out his mission. For better or for worse, the ad has a surprising lack of "Dilly Dilly," the slogan which the beer company has pushed extremely hard this football season. Unfortunately, we've come to expect quite a lot when it comes to Bud Light's Super Bowl ads, and this one was very much underwhelming in the humor department.
Hyundai - "Hope Detector"
Hyundai decided not to feature any of their cars in Sunday's Super Bowl ad. Instead, the company put a focus on their efforts to fund childhood cancer research and how buying a Hyundai can make an impact. The ad featured real Hyundai owners and real cancer survivors meeting each other, which probably was heartwarming for plenty of viewers. However, it felt a little faux-sentimental watching the survivors being used as props to praise "heroes" just because they bought a Hyundai. In turn, it also sort of felt like the company was saying that if you didn't drive a Hyundai, you're an anti-hero actively working against cancer research, which is pretty uncomfortable. Props to Hyundai for doing their part to fund research, but this felt like a really hollow way of patting themselves on the back.
Febreze - "The Only Man Whose Bleep Don't Stink"
This year's Febreze ad goes hard in the "Bathroom Humor" department. (It's about pooping.) For an ad about stuff not stinking, it sure did stink.
Kia - "Feel Something Again"
Kia's 60-second ad features Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler taking the new Kia Stinger for a spin and reversing all the way back to his younger self. After traveling backwards in time, Tyler steps out of the car to an onrushing crowd of adoring fans coming to greet him. It felt like Kia really wanted us all to be impressed by their CGI work to recreate a youthful Tyler, but the result was slightly horrifying. They probably should've learned from Henry Cavill's mustache before sinking so much money and effort into this weird ad.
After the Super Bowl came to a close, Google shared some statistical insights into how the trends played out during the game. Here are some of their findings:
- Viewership of Super Bowl ads on YouTube saw a 16% increase in viewership year to date, with viewership on the living room increasing by 52%.
- Justin Timberlake's music on YouTube peaked at over 500,000 views per hour in the US during the game. That's nearly 500% higher than his hourly average last Sunday.
Top trending questions on Google during the Super Bowl:
- Where was Prince from?
- How old is Steven Tyler?
- What is the Super Bowl score?
- Is Justin Timberlake married?
- How old is Justin Timberlake?
These are the most-viewed ads as based on Game day views as of 10pm PST:
For the eleventh year, we saw fans turned to YouTube AdBlitz to watch, share, and cheer for their favorite ads and big game videos before, during, and after the game. Here are the top viewed ads on game day, and some of people's favorite so far:
- Alexa Loses Her Voice – Amazon Super Bowl LII Commercial
- Groupon 2018 Super Bowl Commercial | "Who Wouldn't"
- Pepsi Generations "This is the Pepsi" | Pepsi | Extended
- Bud Light - The Bud Knight
- Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan – Super Bowl Commercial [HD] | Prime Video
- Solo: A Star Wars Story "Big Game" TV Spot (:45)
- Westworld Season 2 | Official Super Bowl Ad | HBO
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Official Trailer #2 [HD]
- Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War - Big Game Spot
- Budweiser 2018 Super Bowl Commercial | "Stand By You"
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