First Ever Battle of the Super Bowl Ad Reviewers!

Ever wonder why you never totally agree with Super Bowl ad reviewers?
Well, other than for a few good ads* they mostly don’t agree with each other either.  


The Armchair MBA has selflessly taken on what is certainly is a vast unfulfilled need and compiled a comparison of 9 disparate SB ad reviewers just for you!   Wow!   Almost as much fun as being a Broncos fan!

Just click on the chart below to see that while there is some consistency, in the end advertising is still an art and everyone’s got their opinion.  (You can click on the chart twice to make it even more readable.)

(*Generally universally liked:  Budweiser, Cheerios, Radio Shack, Microsoft – – although I’m not in the bag for all of them)

The reviewers:

Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Advertising Age
Wall Street Journal
Chicago Tribune
Entertainment Weekly
Yahoo Sports
New Yorker

I’ve provided my own opinion, to make it an even 10.


Green/Yellow/Red ratings were my best interpretations of what the reviewers meant.   White means they didn’t review this particular ad –  – which in itself tells you something.  They are grouped based on my ratings, on an alphabetical basis by brand within ranking.

My evaluations are generally based on the Kellogg ADPLAN approach, which is becoming the standard:
Net Equity

However, I also incorporated a liberal dose of my visceral reaction during the game.

Quick commentary:  The Super Bowl is a unique marketing environment where stakes and expectations are high, and the bar for breakthrough is considerably higher than any other day.
Advertisers use the SB for much more than the eyeballs – – as a way to make a corporate statement, introduce something new, reposition themselves, set up other promotional activity, and many other things.
So these spots can be seen through many different lenses, which is why reviews often differ dramatically.

Having said that, sometimes an ad just sucks any way you look at it.

Not included in my ratings (but increasingly important) is how long of a tail these ads might have – – what their viral reach, impact and duration becomes.

Maybe next year.


5 responses »

  1. also, you could comment on who was the easiest grader among critics. Kellogg – 18 greens out of about 40 = 44% Ad Age – 8 out of 40 = 20% WSJ – 11 out of 15 = 75% Trib – 12/20 = 60% Ent Wkly -etc. Variety Slate Yahoo Sports NYorker

    But then they didn’t have to rate them all so perhaps nevermind:-)

      847-409-8228 mobile



    • All used different systems so impossible to directly compare. In absence of grading tiers, generally tried to identify clear winners and losers; remainder went into the middle. Definitely subjective.


  2. Everybody’s a critic, Dave! No one in our office had the same take except the Doberweiner was totally lame. That said, my personal favorite was the Muppets for Toyota which none of the critics could agree on (they make me happy and I’m soooo tired of “Jan” who is totally boring). Also liked Radio Shack — but our brand director didn’t think it paid off why you’d want to see the new store format – just that they finally admitted the 80’s-ish store had become irrelevant. Good point. Finally, the T-Mobile made me feel sorry for Tebow which I never thought would happen. Tying your brand to an over-rated personality who is now a free agent? Odd to me, but it got attention. Finally, thought the Coke ad was wonderful, but the most interesting aspect is the crazy pot-shots at the “totally unAmerican” undertone.


  3. Dave—Terrific analysis. Bravo. Your short, focused comments are right on track.

    I find it interesting that there is a fair bit of consistency, considering the different systems look at different things. For example, the Kellogg panel tries to look at business impact. I haven’t studied Entertainment Weekly’s system but I suspect it looks more at creativity.

    The full Kellogg ratings are posted here:


  4. Pingback: Super Bowl Ads – The REAL Best and Worst – – and why | The Armchair MBA

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