My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2020

Another Super Bowl has come and gone. This was the first year watching the big game in my new house, with my new wife, and my new dog. We had a few friends over to watch Super Bowl LIV on a giant 75-inch TV in true 4K UHD quality — what a time to be alive!

From MTN Dew’s “Zero Sugar. As Good as the Original” Super Bowl ad.

2020 saw a slight departure from the past few years as brands moved away from striking an emotional chord with viewers by speaking out on social issues. With a few exceptions (Verizon’s “The Amazing Things 5G Won’t Do” had good intentions, I’m sure, but felt like it was exploiting first responders rather than honoring them), brands largely turned to comedy to capture viewers’ attention.

Working off the theory that American’s have short attention spans, brands also used a couple tactics to keep viewers engaged: using lots of star power by way of short cameo appearances and using multiple situations within a single spot. This led some ads to fall flat as there was simply too much going on and each spot seemed to lack a clear story arc.

Too many star cameos and lack of story arc aside, I still found plenty of good ads this year. Many of which I overheard people talking about at the office the next day. But I assure you, I have not let my colleagues influence my ranking of the top 5 Super Bowl ads of 2020. Here they are:

5. Cheetos — Can’t Touch This

The concept of not helping out because you have “Cheeto hands” is a rather hilariously true in itself, add in MC Hammer and you’ve got comedy gold!

4. Rocket Mortgage — Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa is a larger than life character on and off the big screen. So to see him head home to relax by removing his larger than life muscles and struggling to bench press the empty bar was not only cleaver, it was an impressive visual effect.

3. Jeep — Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is without a doubt my favorite Bill Murray flick so this was an obvious choice for my top 5. It was great to revisit some the sights and characters from the classic 1993 film; the fact that the Super Bowl happened to land on Groundhog Day made this the perfect lighthearted Super Bowl ad.

2. MTN Dew — Zero Sugar. As Good as the Original

The Shining is the greatest film of all time. And while this MTN Dew Super Bowl ad is not quite the same masterpiece as the Stanley Kubrick classic, it was thoughtfully done and maintained an incredible attention to detail, Bryan Cranston does a mean Jack Nicholson impression, and the green MTN Dew gushing through the elevator doors was a nice touch. As if that weren’t all enough, the :60 spot hits you with one more: Bryan Cranston dressed as the creepy twins. Awesome Super Bowl commercial.

1. Hyundai — Smaht Pahk

I’ve watched this one a few times now and it gets me rolling every time. Maybe it’s because I lived in Greater Boston for four years, but I just love watching a trio of Bostonians ripping on their awful accent. This was probably the commercial I heard talked about the most at work and I was happy to jump in with my own Boston accent. Not sure it’s going to move cars for Hyundai, but I’ll bet there’s a lot of people who learned about the Sonata’s smart parking feature for the first time. Well done.

Honorable Mentions

Tide gets a shout out for continuity for it’s Super Bowl Now, Laundry Later series of ads. Add in everyone’s favorite character from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and you’ve got a recipe for success and ad recall.

Again, maybe it’s because I lived just down the road from Foxboro for four years, but I loved Hulu’s Tom Brady fake out. Not in the top five because, well, it features Tom Brady. Enough of the Patriots; I think America is ready to move on.

Finally, I noticed Budweiser ran a brilliant ad revisiting its classic Wasssup! Super Bowl spot. This was an absolutely brilliant ad that featured an empty apartment filled with smart devices coming to life to say the iconic Budweiser catch phrase. The only reason it’s not on my top five? It only aired in Canada. Budweiser’s ‘Typical Americans’ spot was fine, but I think I just wasn’t up for the emotional angle this year.


My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2014

Image of the Super Bowl XLVIII logo.Another Super Bowl has come and gone and that means it’s time for a breakdown of my top five ads from one of the biggest days in sports. There’s not much to talk about in the 43-8 beating the Broncos took from the Seahawks so we’ll just dive right into it.

This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads seemed pretty weak at first glance. Maybe I was a little distracted from munching on a delicious assortment of Chex Mix, pizza and other delicious treats. Maybe the game was so boring that I just had too many side conversations and browsing on my iPhone to catch all the details of the commercials. In any event, upon a thorough review of each game-day ad on YouTube, it turns out there were some pretty high-quality ads. I’m still a fan of the slapstick comedic spots, but this year seems to have fallen suit with 2013 in leaning toward the dramatic and heart-warming side of life.

Below is my fourth annual list of the top five spots that aired during Super Bowl XLVIII. View my top five list from previous years here.

#5. Audi: Doberhuahua

This ad was a must for my top five list for the sheer chaos that ensued during the 60 seconds of terror. Things got a little weird, but you gotta love the appearance from Sarah McLachlan and just the mere thought of a Chihuahua with a snarling, oversized Doberman head running rampant in a zombie apocalypse-style setting. It was certainly talked about at offices around the country on Monday.

#4. Jamie Casino: Casino’s Law

You probably weren’t expecting any local ads on this list and you’d be right in assuming I’ve never featured one before. However, this is the most extravagant local spot I’ve ever seen–Super Bowl or not–and it deserves to be on this list. As AdWeek put it, Jamie Casino takes on a Saul Goodman-esque role, who was a “lawyer to the crooks until something bad happened to him—and he reinvented himself.” Please watch the full two minutes of local advertising glory. 

#3. Budweiser: Puppy Love

Here’s a sweet quasi-followup from Budweiser’s “Clydesdales Brotherhood” spot from last year. This ad probably would have slipped into the No. 2 position had the music been of a different tune–I can’t stand Passenger’s voice. My opinion aside, the girls in the room were nearly in tears before the commercial ended and it’s a must for this list.

#2. Chrysler: America’s Import (Bob Dylan)

This ad being in the No. 2 position reveals two things about me: 1.) I’m a sucker for Americana and 2.) I love Bob Dylan–my parents even thought was good idea to name me after the legendary American singer-songwriter. There’s a couple moments of this ad that I think are a little weak and it probably could have been done in 1:30 or even 60 seconds, but again, you gotta love the Americana set to the tune of Dylan’s aging voice and iconic music. Actually, I’m probably only justifying the presence of this ad on my list because I am such a Bob Dylan fan. Who cares, it’s my list.

#1. Doritos: Time Machine

After four years of reviewing Super Bowl ads, the score is even: two dramatic ads and two funny ads clinch the top spot. By now you should be familiar with the annual Doritos Crash the Super Bowl online commercial contest. The contest made a big splash when it debuted in 2006 and has produced some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads of the past decade. Indeed, I’ve now placed three Doritos ads throughout my four years of top five lists. This spot has it all: Short, cute and hilarious. I could watch this over and over and get a smile on my face every time. Well done, Mr. Anderson and good luck in your future film career.

Bonus spots that didn’t quite make the cut:

CarMax: Slow Clap – Who doesn’t love a good slow clap? Plus a cameo from Rudy!
RadioShack: The Phone Call – Everything you loved about the 80s.
Coca-Cola: It’s Beautiful – Nicely done and bold move–even stirring up a little controversy.
Chobani: Bear – More Bob Dylan!

Top Five Super Bowl Ads of 2011

After coming home from the library late in the third quarter, I quickly fired up Hulu and got caught up in the AdBowl. What a great way to watch the best ads of the night. Hulu had a nice dashboard to watch the ads with the ability to organize by most popular, most watched and order of appearance. With the ability to give a thumbs up or down to each ad and the Facebook and Twitter share buttons, Hulu was definitely a great site to analyze the ads and see what everyone else was thinking. So with that, I give you my personal “top 5” ads of Super Bowl XLV.

#5. Bridgestone: Carma

Bridgestone Tires has been running commercials during the Super Bowl since 2008 and has sponsored the halftime show the past two years. This year, Bridgestone featured two ads during the event and both have ended up in my top five. I find this ad to be clever not only because of the cute little beaver and heart-warming nature of the spot, but the ad also makes a strong point without making a big deal about it: Bridgestone tires can make a sudden stop in the rain with no problem.

#4. Doritos: House Sitting

I don’t think this one left anyone feeling warm-hearted … As usual this year, Doritos goes for humor and shock value in their Super Bowl ads. This ad is tastefully done for Doritos’ standard and is not nearly as creepy as the “Mmm … Cheese!” guy. I got to hand it to Doritos for the success of the “Crash the Super Bowl” contest now in it’s fourth year. What a great concept: Let the consumers take the spotlight and see what they come up with. Each year, consumers have delivered for Doritos and the contest leading up to the Super Bowl is a great way to build consumer relations and brad identity.

#3. Bridgestone: Reply All

This commercial is all about humor. In fact, this is the first ad I watched that made me LOL. Wow, I can’t believe I just wrote that. Anyway, the ad pokes fun at the ever so dreadful mistake of hitting “reply all” in an e-mail when the message was intended for just the sender. Who doesn’t love watching a guy flip out at the office?

#2. Volkswagen: The Force

This is just a great ad. The commercial quickly went viral on YouTube and now has over 22 million views. Not bad, even with the $6 million price tag to air the 60 second spot. The ad was talked about by seemingly everyone in the following days and Volkswagen gained additional impressions on morning talk shows and heart-warming stories about the six-year-old heart patient from Southern California. The ad itself tells little about the car and is based purely on keeping the viewer’s attention and ending with a good joke. The ad is … dare I say cute?

#1. Chrysler: Imported from Detroit

This might be the first time I have ever had a completely non-humorous Super Bowl ad as my favorite. This ad has a perfect  tone right from the start. The scars of the City of Detroit are showcased in a way that makes you feel proud to know Chrysler cars are made right here in the U.S. The tone of the voice-over (a Michigan man) carries over Eminem’s  musical crescendo in what seems to end with chills through my body every time I watch it. This commercial was severely under-appreciated on the various online voting polls, not even making the top 10 on Hulu. However, the ad is seeming to do its job after the first airing. Kelly Blue Book ranked its online traffic after each automobile commercial aired during the Super Bowl and the Chrysler 200 was the top ranking search with a 1,013 percent increase in traffic. Though the more humorous ads received more views and ranked higher, the commercial did get a lot of attention online and in the news.

Alright, there you have my “top 5” Super Bowl ads. Before I let you weigh-in on your favorites, I just want to say Coca-Cola really flopped on their strange “blockbuster” dragon slayer animated mini-movie. I’m not sure what this guy was thinking, but the ad was terrible. Oh, and what was Groupon thinking? That’s probably a topic for another day.