Last year’s Super Bowl ad lineup was so poor, I felt completely uncompelled to watch any of the spots a second time, let alone actually write about them. The year before—the 2014 Super Bowl—wasn’t much better, the only truly memorable ad was “Puppy Love” from Budweiser—good enough for the No. 3 spot on my annual list (I hated the song, but loved the story).
Super Bowl 50 was loaded with hilarious ads selling for as much as $5 million for a :30 second spot. The main players—Budweiser, Volkswagen, Bridgestone—were either absent from the lineup or just didn’t deliver. Here are the top five spots that made the cut:
#5. Audi R8: Commander
Starting out in the No. 5 position on my list is also the only ad that took a dramatic approach. Audi’s Super Bowl commercial features a retired astronaut getting a taste of his old days of blasting off into space upon getting behind the wheel of his son’s Audi R8 V10 plus. Bonus points for featuring David Bowie’s “Starman.” Ah, who am I kidding? David Bowie made this commercial.
#4. Hyundai Genesis: First Date
Coming in at No. 3 on the list is a brilliantly executed ad featuring Kevin Hart as an over-protected father sending his daughter off on her first date. Hart offers the suitor the keys to his Hyundai Genesis, equipped with “Car Finder.” Little did they know, the Car Finder option allowed Hart to keep tabs on their date with his over-protective face popping up at all the wrong moments. The ad uses celebrity endorsement and humor while also showing off the car’s features and hitting a soft spot most of us are familiar with.
#3. Doritos: Doritos Dogs
It wouldn’t be a top Super Bowl ads list without a Doritos ad or two. One of two winners of the annual Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest features dogs attempting to enter a supermarket to buy Doritos, but continually getting kicked out by the manager because dogs are not allowed. The dogs ended up using some old-fashioned trickery to sneak their way in. After a glorious 10-year run, this is apparently the last Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest we’ll see.
#2. Heinz Ketchup: Wiener Stampede
Not much to say here. Stampeding wiener dogs meet their Heinz Ketchup family. Not much to it, but man, watching those cute little dachshunds dressed up in little hotdog costumes slow-motion-running through a field is both funny and adorable. It’s a good ad because of the product reinforcement played by the humans dressed in condiment bottle costumes.
#1. Mountain Dew: Puppymonkeybaby
I can only assume most viewers found this ad to be completely stupid, annoying and even creepy—I certainly did. However, once I watched it again (and again and again), I realized I couldn’t turn my eyes away as soon as the odd ‘puppymonkeybaby’ creature enters the room. Chubby baby legs, a hairy monkey body and tail, and an ugly little pug face. This ad is ranked lower on most lists, but it earned the top spot for me because it was memorable and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Also, this is a brilliant use of hashtag integration—go ahead, search #puppymonkeybaby on your social networking site of choice. This is not only the ad you most likely talked about at the water cooler the next morning, but also undoubtedly saw a gif or two show up on your Facebook News Feed. Well done, Mtn Dew, welcome to the big time.
Another great year for Super Bowl advertising. I was happy to see a nice return to slapstick comedy that we’ve come to expect from ads during the only sporting event capable of pulling in 100 million or so worldwide viewers. It was tough to narrow this list down to only five and even harder to pick a favorite—I even did some last-minute reshuffling. Which Super Bowl 50 ad was your favorite?
Hyundai: The Chase – Who doesn’t love cute talking bears?
Hyundai: Ryanville – If you’re a Ryan Reynolds fan, this ad is for you.
Honda Ridgeline: A New Truck to Love – A little long and over-produced, but again, talking animals is always a safe bet. Oh, and Freddy Mercury.
Doritos: Ultra Sound – Here’s a familiar spot from Doritos (Remember “Sling Baby” from the 2012 Super Bowl?)