Argonaut, San Francisco
Even if Volkswagen's sales haven't been the best in the U.S.
recently, the vehicles last a long time. In fact the company uses
this spot to point out that it has more vehicles with over 100,000
miles on the road than any other brand. And every time a VW hits
that mark, a German engineer earns his wings in this mildly funny
spot, which includes a penis joke and butt rainbows. What it
doesn't include -- for those inclined to gin up some controversy
about this year's ads -- is a female engineer sprouting wings.
Pepsi, "Halftime Intro"
Pepsi tunes up the audience for the Pepsi-sponsored halftime
show with this pretty clever ad in which various bits of New York
are used as musical instruments. Met Life stadium is used as a
volume knob to crank things up to 11, so even a little bit of New
Jersey gets some action. It's more a reminder that Pepsi is a
sponsor than that Pepsi products are delicious or refreshing or
necessary. But still better than those goofy invention-of-halftime
spots the marketer's been running.
Budweiser, "Hero's Welcome"
Anomaly, New York
Budweiser throws a parade for one returning veteran. As it
should. This one doesn't have the emotional oomph of previous
Budweiser spots in this vein -- or maybe we've grown so accustomed
to those YouTube surprises of troops returning home that it takes
more to move us. The #Salute, however, is more than just a hollow
hashtag. It's part of the brewers partnership with Folds of Honor,
for which it helped raise $6.5 million between 2010 and 2013.
Leo Burnett, Detroit
As my colleague Michael McCarthy notes, this spot is vaguely Bud
Light-ish with its slightly raunchy approach. It may go over the
heads of more urbane folks. And others might need more of a setup.
But for those in the truck market and especially those who've sat
through an entire football season of Silverado's earnest spots --
all of which start with "A man. A man and his truck. A man, his
truck and..." -- the addition of a stud bull (literally) and a
soundtrack featuring Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" is a
refreshing change of pace.
Droga5, New York
Of the two Greek-yogurt ads in this year's game, this is the
good one. Or the one that's at least mildly amusing without being
sexual in an off-putting way. And it's got a real bear in it, a
real bear that wants to pay cash for his Chobani, even if he's
destroyed the place and scared off all the customers. And if a bear
likes it, it's got to be good, right? Voiceover by Mandy Patinkin
acknowledges that a "cup of yogurt won't change the world." Then
adds, "But how we make it, might." A message likely to go over the
head of rooms full of people drinking soda, beer and orange-dusted
chips and puffs. But, look! A bear!
Kia, "The Truth"
David & Goliath, Los Angeles
With the introduction of the K900, Kia wants to change consumer
perception of the Kia name and of luxury cars -- a pretty tall
order for a company known for entry -- level vehicles. So it
enlists the help of Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, from "The
Matrix." The ensuing bit of Matrix-themed alternate reality is a
bit predictable, but the ad is redeemed when Morpheus starts
belting out Puccini.
BBDO, New York
This one starts out looking a lot like a car ad, what with the
road winding through the snowy countryside and leading to an
opulent mansion where Russian gangsters are dining. The Big Bad
comes out to the car, opens the trunk and threatens to chop into
little pieces whoever is inside. Of course, it's Yellow M&M,
who has no idea what's going on but goes along with it anyway.
Which is funny as long as you don't spend too much time thinking
about Yellow's grisly demise.
GoDaddy, "Body Builder"
Deutsch, New York
What, you thought GoDaddy was moving away from the sex-sells
approach? Well, here we have a bunch of oiled-up, half-clothed,
muscle-bound... men? Oh, and Danica Patrick in a muscle suit. The
stampeding herd of beefcake isn't just eye candy, however. It's
heading for a tanning salon, owned by a woman -- a woman! -- smart
enough to use GoDaddy's services.
Beats, "The Right Music"
Ellen DeGeneres uses Beats music service to find just the right
mood for her dance session with a bunch of furries? It's got Ellen,
decent tunes, people in animal suits and actually sells the
product, so not much to complain about on this one.
Sonos, "Face Off"
72andSunny, Los Angeles
A slick looking ad for Sonos wireless speakers. Football fans
will have seen it, but it's still pretty to look at.
Coca-Cola, "Going All the Way"
Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
This is a mildly sweet spot about a young man who makes an
impossible touchdown, keeps on going and is rewarded with a Coke.
It was more poignant back when Forrest Gump did it (though he would
have preferred a Dr Pepper. The grounds-keeper's "Hey, kid" is a
nice callback to the 1980 "Mean Joe Greene" spot, but will those
who don't spend hours and hours watching old Super Bowl ads (i.e.,
regular people) catch it? The choice of House of Pain's "Jump
Around" is baffling as well.
Axe, "Make Love, Not War"
Hey, Axe isn't just the choice of body spray for hormonal
teenagers who buy into its typical ad approach of sexually
aggressive women pouncing on boys who hose their bodies down with
the stuff. It's also the choice of North Korean despots, Iranian
dictators, Russian soldiers and U.S. grunts still fighting in
Vietnam who are all looking to put away guns, bombs and tanks and
just make sweet, sweet love. This sounds completely
ridiculous—and risks being seen as "lame" or "sappy" with
Axe's core audience—but it kind of works.