To be sure, by the time you read this, thousands of reviews, comments and picks for Best and Worst spots have crossed the airwaves and the internet. Initial impressions seem to run toward “sad and depressing” as watchwords for this slate of Super Ads. If you were paying attention (pass the guacamole…), you probably came away from the Big Game with a few favorites, as well as, a few missteps among the crop of roughly 90 ads that aired between the Kick-Off Show and the awarding of the Lombardi trophy.

The presumption is that there was something for everyone. 100+ million viewers means that every possible age, gender, ethnicity, background and character trait experienced some portion of the onslaught to our senses and sensibilities.

Before I share my list of wins and misses, I have to ask the fundamental question in so many minds about more than just a handful of spots….

“What were they thinking…?”

The Blunders:

More than a misstep … perhaps a miscalculation? No, Wilson’s fateful goal line pass was a miscalculation – something that can happen in the heat and excitement of the moment … a split-second decision that, ultimately, is a real game-changer. Instead, we’re talking a hundred days of planning; hundreds of people and approval points along the way; hundreds of thousands spent to produce; and, of course, a “millions of dollars to broadcast” kind of a mistake.

Where can I buy some insurance against a monumental “backfire” like the Nationwide “I died” debacle? The creative minds behind this effort turned the spot into anything but “safe.”

Nissan’s “quick-fix” of a father showing up to pick-up his son in a shiny red Maxima to make up for a life of parental abandonment reaches into uncharted territory for either branding or product benefit statements.

Top 5 Non-Starters:

  • 100 Years of Dodge – Seniors chanting slang and “cool” catch-phrases
  • Mexican Avocados — God assigning animals and vegetables to specific countries
  • Eat24 – “Hangry” unsure what this app is all about – message got lost
  • eSurance — “get the right pharmaceuticals” pitch
  • SquareSpace – “Dreaming of Jeff tease” – more like a nightmare. Whatzat?

Bonus Round – Sketchers “Pete Rose not allowed in the hall” bungle

Wasted Time and Money?

  • Scientology – huh? Swing & a miss…
  • Doritos – Airplane snafu … scenario that leads to disappointment
  • Ecuador Tourism – where’s the excitement? Uninspired and lackluster
  • Nationwide – Mindy & Matt Damon – Wish it wasn’t real, after all…
  • Go Daddy – Tech Guy – poor replacement for “puppy-mill” (vague)

Okay — My Picks:

Most Clever: Fiat – “Viagra”

Most Fun: Bud Light – Pacman

Heartfelt: Budweiser – Lost Puppy

Emotional: Toyota – Being a Dad

Product Demo: Honda – Parallel Park

Product Promise: KickStart (Energy/Buzz)

Product Innovation: BMW – Couric/Gumble

Product Benefit: Microsoft – What Can We Do?

Strong Brand: Budweiser – All Music – just the suds; Jeep – This Land (worldscapes)

Strongest Brand: Victoria’s Secret – Gotta Love the Girls!

Use of Celebrity:  Liam Neeson – Clash of Clans

Concept: Carnival Cruises – Come Back to the Sea

Best Offer: McDonald’s – Paying with Love Promo

Now you have it. What were your favorites? Gaffes? Here’s your chance to chime-in.

First in a series.