Battle of the 2016 Super Bowl Ad Reviewers

To take your mind off whatever tsuris you may be feeling about our nation hurtling toward anarchy, for the third year in a row we take you briefly back to Sunday’s state of guacomole-induced stupor, to compare critics’ reviews of the all-important Super Bowl ads.


Like our politicians, once again it’s clear that the critics can’t agree on much (unless it involves dachshunds dressed up as hot dogs.)

And once again we realize that John Wanamaker was right: 50% of advertising is wasted. Unlike Mr. Wanamaker, in this case we have a pretty good feeling about which 50% may have been involved.


At the bottom of this post is a remarkable chart comparing major reviewers (color-coded green/yellow/pink) for all the spots run during Sunday’s game.  It’s pithy!
NOTE: ads are grouped by my rankings of green/yellow/pink but are alphabetically listed within those large groups.

A few observations:

First of all, if Super Bowl 50 was such an amazing success, why were there approximately 260 CBS ads taking up valuable ad space?

Humor seems to be back, and boy do we need it. (Celebrities are back, too)
– unfortunately, sophomoric humor was also in full schwing! (Amy Schumer, I’m talking to you)


Generally well-accepted spots had breakthrough, were straightforward, enjoyable, had product as hero – – and you came away knowing what the brand was
Audi’s Commander, Kraft/Heinz Wiener Stampede, Toyota Prius The Longest Chase, Doritos Ultrasound (I was not a fan), Avocados from Mexico Avocados in Space, Bud Light Bud Light Party, Hyundai Genesis First Date, Hyundai Elantra Ryanville, Amazon Echo Baldwin Bowl Party, Advil Distant Memory

Disliked spots featured unappetizing topics or visuals, human ailments, made no detectable point, or were just stupid
AstraZeneca Opioid-Induced Constipation Envy, Squarespace Real Talk, SoFi Great Loans, Great People, Valeant Jublia Best Kept Secret, LG OLEG TV Man from the Future


Mtn Dew Kickstart PuppyMonkeyBaby carried the torch of 2014’s Doberhuahua, quite happy to spew the ridiculous in the craven quest for online buzz
– (by the way, it’s Mtn, not Mountain)


Some highlights:
– Anthony Hopkins’s perfectly executed tongue-in-cheek “I’m not selling out” pitch for TurboTax
Jeep’s spots (finally) taking advantage of its amazing legacy
Kia’s spot called ‘Walken Closet’ starring Christopher Walken. (Did the pun drive the copy?)

Key Peele

Some lowlights:
LG’s infuriatingly pointless waste of Liam Neeson and Ridley Scott’s talents
Squarespace’s infuriatingly pointless waste of Key & Peele’s talents
– Spots that required you to know the context (T-Mobile/Drake, T-Mobile/Steve Harvey, Hyundai Elantra/Ryan Reynolds)

A few spots had obviously high production values but were virtually ignored by reviewers – which makes one wonder if their $5 million+ was well spent:
Intel Experience Amazing, McDonald’s Good Morning, Bai Horse Whisperer, Pokémon 2.0, Kung Fu Panda, Advil Distant Memory, Mobile Strike Fight

Finally, Weather Tech – this is I believe your 3rd Super Bowl ad.  You make a great product in an admirable way.  You are decent, hardworking, earnest people.
But maybe it’s time to step away from the cheese dip and have a beer.


Click once or twice on the table below to make it more readable.


My evaluations are generally based on the Kellogg ADPLAN approachAttention
– Positioning
– Linkage
– Amplification
– Net Equity – – along with some personal gut feel.

Reviewers and links to reviews (if you were involved in any of the reviews and feel I got something wrong, let me know):
Kellogg Graduate School of Business – Northwestern University
Ad Age
Chicago Tribune
Entertainment Weekly
New Yorker
USA Today
Washington Post
Wall Street Journal
Yahoo Sports

See you next year!


3 responses »

  1. Nice!I have a few ideas for the future, a future in which you have limitless time for such indulgences.* recap the money side of it – it struck me as I was looking at the # of ads that $5M x 75 ads is like $375M and how’s that stack up for CBS (obviously the economics are way bigger than that…)* what about the ‘house ads’ for CBS sitcoms and such. How do you evaluate the impact of those and the opportunity cost (they gave up 5 spots to pitch their shows – that’s $25M if they could sell those spots)* what impact, if any, did the campaign have on the brand. For example, in 6 months did BAI sales take a huge leap upward? Did the birth of some ad campaign have legs that carried through the year (like the Steve Harvey ad with the colored ball things) Thanks – when are you home next?  847-409-8228 mobile

    From: The Armchair MBA To: Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 6:57 PM Subject: [New post] Battle of the 2016 Super Bowl Ad Reviewers #yiv2989574458 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2989574458 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2989574458 a.yiv2989574458primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2989574458 a.yiv2989574458primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2989574458 a.yiv2989574458primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2989574458 a.yiv2989574458primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2989574458 | davetuchler posted: “To take your mind off whatever tsuris you may be feeling about our nation hurtling toward anarchy, for the third year in a row we take you briefly back to Sunday’s state of guacomole-induced stupor, to compare critics’ reviews of the all-important Super B” | |


  2. Hi Dave. Great analysis, as always.

    I found the “Super Bowl Babies” totally underwhelming. From the build-up I expected to see a mountainside of people, like the old Coke commercial. But after seeing the rest of the ad I was left with “really? that’s all ya got?”. Seems like the NFL could have sold that spot, earned a cool $5 Million, and leave the cleverness to folks who know how.

    I wondered just how much did Toyota spend? Seems like the Prius thing was a mini-series. Whoa! Gonna have to sell a heck of a lot of Priuses (Prii?) to recoup that investment.

    The Jeff Goldblum “Movin On Up” ad was more than a little lame, but hey, it was Jeff Goldblum. If he’s in it I like it.


    • Terry – as always, enjoy your comments. No idea what Toyota spent but other companies shelled out quite a bit as well – – Hyundai had 3 spots, AB Inbev had more than that. ‘Super Bowl Babies’ had the same impact on me – was left wondering what the point was. Definitely no action appropriate (except maybe putting in your bid to hatch the next Super Bowl Baby – but that’s another issue entirely. And really wanted to like the Jeff Goldblum spot (even watched a B roll about the making of the spot) but it just never clicked with me.



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