Super Bowl commercials are often polarizing. What turns one viewer into a loyal customer may make another reach for their phone to swiftly unfollow a brand on every social platform. And in the immediate aftermath of the Big Game, the perception of which ads will prove to be remembered as brilliant strokes of marketing foresight and which will be mere flashes in the pan—or worse, generate brand-unsafe controversy—is continually evolving.
Take, for example, the tortuous journey of Jeep's high-profile "The Middle" spot featuring Bruce Springsteen. "The Middle'' certainly wasn't the only Super Bowl ad to spark debate: Was Oatly’s no-frills spot genius or cringe-worthy? Does "Edward Scissorhands" have a place in the cultural conversations of this decade? Should there be a cap on the number of rando celebrities you can pack into one ad? (Answers to all: probably.)
To find out which commercials actually won—and lost—the Big Game, we assembled a virtual judges panel of Amp community members to weigh in on the best, the worst and the most creative ad moves of this year’s Super Bowl. Surprise: The winner was a regional, five-second spot, and the loser was a brand that garnered so much animosity before the game that most observers wondered why they bothered to show up at all.
AMP SUPER BOWL JUDGES PANEL
WHICH AD WON THE SUPER BOWL?
The Winner: Reddit, "Wow, This Actually Worked"
What just happened? pic.twitter.com/DypRp6DeQt— Reddit (@reddit) February 8, 2021
Douglas Brundage, Founder, Kingsland: “Reddit stole the show while spending the least amount of time and money. The ad made viewers pause and then—gasp—actually read something. It was charming, smart, honest, culturally relevant and on brand. 10s all around.”
Todd Alchin, Partner/CMO, Noble People: “Not just because they figured out how to buy only five seconds, not just because they subverted what a Super Bowl ad must look like, and not just because of their hustle. All these things are laudable, but a bit inside baseball (or football). They win because they captured their cultural moment. It was authentic for their users and their brand, and nobody saw it coming.”
Victoria Gates-Fleming, VP of Digital Strategy & Creative Insights, Day One Agency: “Unlike the typical celeb-filled ads with high production value, it could have been made in Google Slides. It felt relevant and forced viewers to hit pause.”
Jorge Murillo, VP and Executive Creative Director, Alma: “It was subversive, intriguing and unexpected—and the only ad that made me angry for not having done it myself!”
Jesse Samberg, New Business Consultant, Night After Night: “Reddit has long been a black box to non-Redditors, or even a dirty word in some circles. Smart move to take advantage of the extra attention and traffic certain subreddits like r/WSB have generated for the platform in recent months.”
Gian Lanfranco, Co-Founder L&C NYC: “Simply the best creative piece of the year so far. It really captures the moment we are living in where brands need to be creative, relevant and act fast. It also shows you don’t need millions to get an impactful message across.”
Micky Ogando, President/CCO, Bakery: “Post-game, Reddit dominated social media with their clever, heroes’ tale of screenshot.”
Runner-up: Amazon, "Alexa's Body"
Jordan Coff, Account Manager, EightPM: “Who doesn’t like Michael B. Jordan? Better yet, a personal smart device that looks like him. This ad really brought new life to a product that has been seen as a meme for some time.”
Micky Ogando, President/CCO, Bakery: “It brought to life the Echo's intimate relationship with the homeowner in a way that made me—well, really, my wife—want to buy one.”
Tyler Sweeney, Manager, Digital Strategy, RPA: “It hit all the notes for me.”
Jorge Murillo, VP and Executive Creative Director, Alma: “Of the national spots, ‘Alexa’s Body’ was my favorite for turning a product demo into a raunchy romantic comedy—hands down the Best Use of a Celebrity in a Super Bowl Ad.”
Eric Kallman, Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer, Erich and Kallman: “The bar seems to get lower every year. Two entertaining standouts were Rocket Mortgage and Amazon, but it’s hard to believe that broadly appealing, entertaining spots like these are not the norm.”
Mtn Dew, “Mtn Dew Major Melon Bottle Count”
Linda Chau, CEO, PAAPR: “Creating a call to action that led viewers to re-watch the commercial several times and share on their social media is pure genius.”
Travis Peters, CEO, EightPM: “The number of earned social media impressions makes them the clear winner.”
Victoria Gates-Fleming, VP of Digital Strategy & Creative Insights, Day One Agency: “Mountain Dew’s interactive melon-hued spot drove fans to action, with the $1 million prize ensuring they were the most mentioned brand on Twitter.”
Tyler Sweeney, Manager, Digital Strategy, RPA: “From a digital standpoint, the Mountain Dew social contest was great for share of voice.”