Australian creatives weigh in on favourite Super Bowl ads

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 5 February 2019

The Super Bowl didn't fail to deliver on big ads yesterday, with the biggest brands from Pepsi to Amazon taking part.

The themes this year was robophobia, female-empowerment and diversity.

Amazon featured Harrison Ford with an Alexa that didn't work, Pringles had a depressed Alexa-like device, meanwhile TurboTax created what could be the creepiest Super Bowl ad with a human-like doll that wants to do taxes.

T-Mobile had people talking on Twitter with its ad that offered customers free Taco Bell and The Washington Post advertised for the first time during the big game, taking out a spot that went for over a minute to advocate for press freedom.

Google and Microsoft were the biggest tearjerkers of the day. Google rolled out an ad showing how it helps veterans find work, while Microsoft's ad featured children with disabilities talking about how technology empowers them.

Emotional intelligence company Realeyes looked at the emotional response of the ads and found M&M's spot featuring Christina Applegate was the most engaging.

In second was Bubly's ad with Michael Bublé, followed by Mint Mobile and Dietz & Watson which both came in third.

To track how people responded to the ads globally, Twitter created five categories to rank brands.

The #MVP winner, the brand with the highest percentage of all brand-related tweets during the game, was Planters.

The #Blitz winner, the highest level of tweets per minute during Super Bowl night, was Bud Light and Game of Thrones.

The #Quarterback winner, the tweet that spurred the most retweets during the game, was Marvel Studios.

The #Interception winner, the brand that captured the highest share of conversations without running a TV ad, was Frank.
And finally, the #VideoViews winner, the brand with the most viewed Tweet, was Verizon.

AdNews gathered creatives across the industry for their thoughts on the best ads.

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne creative director Selena McKenzie:
Expensify
I enjoyed this all seconds. I want to be entertained during the Super Bowl if I’m going to get early, which I didn’t, but if I was... I want it to be layered and funny and knowing. It’s a clever use of the medium too, that might actually get me downloading the app. Above all, it acknowledges that people find this stuff really boring. And this film is so good I had a family member showing it to me on the weekend, so it’s transcended adLand well and truly.

 

TBWA Sydney creative director Doug Hamilton:
Bud Light and Game of Thrones
A perfect bait and switch, which left me wincing, smiling and scratching my head over how they got the Bud Light client to sign off on the skull crushing. It's the perfect example of the kind of meta advertising Droga5 makes look simple and effortless. However, I know some of the creatives behind this project and it definitely wasn't.

 

R/GA Australia executive creative director Craig Brooks:
Amazon/Bud Light and Game of Thrones
I love the evening after Super Bowl when I get to go home, watch the highlights for a game of football that takes far too long to play, and then dork out on the real competition: the commercials. So ask me again tomorrow and I may have a different opinion, but the two that made me chuckle today were Amazon’s ‘Not Everything Makes the Cut’ & Bud Light x Game of Thrones (GOT).

What I love about both of these spots is that they’re completely aware of their big game audience; people who would be halfway through a long (and, as it turned out, low-scoring) game, full to the brim with game-day food and bored by a lacklustre halftime show that was boycotted by many major artists.

Among all that, these two spots are just straight-up entertaining. The Amazon spot is beautifully self-deprecating, and its celebrity appearances enhance rather than detract from the idea. The Bud spot hits all the lines Bud fans love before descending into a trademark GOT plot twist. Win-win.

 

DDB Sydney creative partner Jade Manning:
Michelob Ultra/TurboTax
Every Super Bowl commercial season is filled with a colourful myriad of characters both human and animal alike. This year was no exception. From the Bud Light knight, to the Budweiser Dalmatian. They’re all there to represent or convey a message that sometimes a human character just can’t. Of all these characters, none was more strangely prevalent than the robot.

In particular the robotic army of perfection in the Michelob Ultra beer commercials and the creepy but enduring Roboboy from TurboTax. Both use the robot as a metaphor to remind us that our technological advancement will never supersede the simple joy of being human. But TurboTax do one better and that’s tell a beautiful, albeit bloody weird, human story. In less than 45 seconds TurboTax manages to convey a hilarious, complex and emotionally laden human story, which ironically would never be appreciated by the likes of the mechanical Michelob crew or creepy-wonderful-Roboboy.

 

Innocean creative director Paul Bruce:
Expensify
Special game controllers from Microsoft was right up my algorithm but I’m watching the game so is now the right time to tell me? You can’t argue with scale so beer plus mega popular medieval soap opera, yes that works. TurboTax made me laugh the loudest but I’m not sure everyone in the room was laughing as hard as me.

If I was going to pick a winner for me it would be Expensify or rather the art direction of Expensify. Always makes me happy to see a gang of art directors in charge. My #ApologiesToAndy it just didn’t feel like the best year. More people with three eyes in advertising please.

M&C Saatchi group creative director Andy Flemming:
I’d love to write an amusingly brutal takedown of this year’s Super Bowl ads (hand over blank cheque, add celebrities, get seven months to make the thing, reap rewards). But typing in ‘Super Bowl ads’ into Google will bring up hundreds of features from most major news and industry sites doing just that.

To me, this says two things. Firstly, people love ads. They love dissecting them, watching them, sharing them, discussing them. Hell, when you’ve even got CNN weighing in on who made the best one you know a big ad is still big news. Which leads me to my second point. Why the fuck do we have to wait one entire year for a three-hour window when an ad break is awesome? It seems that the Super Bowl is a strange anomaly where research, rewrites and deadlines are thrown out of the window and clients get into this wonderfully old-fashioned mindset and actually insist on work that stands out and people actually enjoy watching. You know, ads that make people laugh, think – even cry. So why is the rest of the year completely different? The audience doesn’t change. It’s just that the industry’s attitude towards them does. To me, the Super Bowl is what advertising was and can be. A simpler, easier process based on trust, respect and laughing together in the presentation. It’s not hard. It’s what used to happen and it leads to work that can change an entire brand in a day. It’s just a shame that doesn’t happen in the other 364.

WhiteGrey creative Grace O’Brien:
Burger King
Burger King's #EatLikeAndy was a stand out for me this year. Watching someone eat a Whopper for 45 seconds sounds pretty mundane but amongst the high-octane, slapstick and 'glamorous' spots, I found it to be quite powerful. And it lands the brand’s message quite nicely: Whoppers are for everyone. I do, however, have to admit that #EatLikeAndy is an equal first with ‘Top Dog’ by Avocados From Mexico. It's inane and absurd, but I’ve been singing ‘Avocados from Mexico’ to myself all afternoon. Can't argue with that.

 

Spinach senior creative Jacqui Paterson:
Hyundai/Walmart
I personally hate watching sport, but I love watching Super Bowl ads. This year was love/hate for me. My top two both featured cars, but in totally different ways. ‘Hyundai ‘Elevator’ stars Jason Bateman as a lift attendant with a gag for every floor. His dry delivery kept me smiling to the end. Extra points for the “Back it up Captain Colon” gag.

Equal first is Walmart’s ‘Famous Cars’, perfectly executed from concept and music to end tag. My least favourite was Stella Artois. Digging up Carrie and the Dude might be nostalgic, but also a wasted opportunity to create something new and unique.

 

Redengine SCC creative director Duncan Shields:
Pepsi
Whilst it may seem self-serving to pick a brand we already work with, the Pepsi ad really stood out for me. Many of this year’s offering appeared to be brands attaching themselves to something else: Budweiser to green energy, Doritos to refreshed 90’s nostalgia - even that Bon and Viv thing made me think of Aquaman, although that may just be a coincidence, so it was refreshing to see a brand take one of their biggest bugbears, “Is Pepsi OK?” and turn it into a positive brand message. Nice job, Pepsi.

The Colgate ad gave me a chuckle too.

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