A record $166,666.66 per second for a Super Bowl spot: Money wisely spent or not?


Well, it’s in the books: the most expensive commercial forage for brand traction in history took place on the 7th. 30 seconds of airtime fetched a whopping $5 million (a little under a nickel for each of the nearly 112 million average viewers). But here’s who, in this reviewer’s opinion, spent their money wisely and who should have perhaps spent their budget elsewhere this year.

This review is out a few days later than in the past. Having been in the stadium for the live event, I recorded the broadcast and reviewed the Super Bowl commercials during the days following. The added time gave me a chance to get a pulse on reactions from family, friends, the media and other industry experts. This is how I see it.

Of course, it all comes down to ROI. Create a unique spot that’s on target; employ a broad-based pre-bowl social media campaign; include a strong call to action, and wham, you’re a media hero. Miss the mark or stumble in your execution, and your over $5 million investment is only going to cause your corporate board or shareholders to question the spend.

Clearly, the result of the game itself was a defensive win. In my opinion, the only offensive move relevant to this year’s Super Bowl was the gross waste of dollars on, perhaps, the most lackluster slate of commercials served up during the broadcast in the past couple of decades. Apparently, I’m not alone in my opinion. “Same old, same old,” said Andrew Essex, former vice chairman of advertising agency Droga5. “Celebrity, silly and deadly serious seems to be the new formula.”

Lots of animals, re-treads and nightmarish imagery. What seemed to be lacking was breakthrough creativity or any overt effort to enhance corporate branding. Yes, there were a few standouts, but collectively, this group produced an alarming number of duds.

If you are among those who had something more important to occupy your time on that Sunday afternoon and missed some or all of the commercials, view them all for yourself here.

I chose to expand my horizon a bit this year and included both the pre- and post-game commercials, hoping to find something of interest among the less expensive time slots. In fact, I found a few of interest. However, for the purpose of this review, I’m considering all spots aired immediately before, during, and immediately after the game. My Picks:

Top 5 Non-Starters

  • T-Mobile Apology – Jab at Verizon using Steve Harvey’s reference to his Miss Universe misstep
  • Heinz – Dogs in hot dog costumes running toward condiments (Really?)
  • LG – “Man From the Future” misses the mark, convoluted message
  • Acura NSX – Nice start, but the spot goes nowhere.
  • Honda Ridgeline – Singing sheep?  Coming: music in the truck bed. The reason to buy a new work truck? (Crack open a window)

Wasted Time and Money

  • SoFi – “Great Loans for Great People”: Forgot to tell us what’s great about their loans (cryptic)
  • Arrow – “Race Driver”: Who is Arrow? What do they do? No call to action. Why spend the money?
  • SunTrust – “Join the Movement” (to where?) What movement? Are they a bank? Investment firm? Huh?
  • Scientology – “Who Am I?”: Overdone. Full of clichés, confusing at best.
  • KFC – “A Dream”: Yet another fake Colonel?

My Favorites

  • Debut Advertiser: Pokemon “Train On”
  • Most Clever: T-Mobile “Restricted Bling”
  • Most Fun: Taco Bell “Quesalupa”
  • Heartfelt: Budweiser – “#GiveADamn”
  • Product Demo: Toyota Prius – “Longest Chase” Series
  • Product Promise: Mountain Dew – KickStart Energy Buzz
  • Product Innovation: PowerBeats – wireless headsets
  • Product Benefit: Advil – “What Pain”
  • Strong Brand: Jeep – “Portraits”  &  “4X4ever,” Intel – “Experience What’s Inside”
  • Use of Celebrity: TurboTax – Anthony Hopkins
  • Use of Super Hero: Coca-Cola – “Mini-Coke”
  • Concept: Audi R8 – “Commander”
  • Best Offer: Jack in the Box – “Million Free Burgers”
  • Serious Message: Text Talk (domestic violence)
  • Community Service: Colgate – #EveryDropCounts
  • Co-opted Spot: Turkish Air/Batman vs. Superman
  • Viral Worthy: Doritos Ultrasound

There you have it. What were your favorites? Misses? Here’s your chance to chime in.