The best and worst of Super Bowl 50 commercials

By Bethany Chambers & Scott Gebler

North Coast Media’s resident commercial-loving marketing gurus, digital operations manager Bethany Chambers and marketing manager Scott Gebler, weigh in on the best and worst of the commercials from Sunday night’s Super Bowl 50. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Best Commercials

NFL “Super Bowl Babies”

BC: Usually a house ad isn’t going to be all that memorable or good (look no further than the commercials for CBS shows that were the definition of a flop). But this year, the NFL put all other self-promotion to shame with an awkward-yet-adorable choir of babies born to the fans of Super Bowl winning teams. Yes, it did feature children singing about how they were conceived. But it also brought back the nostalgia of teams across four decades and from several different cities. To make matters more interesting: They were singing Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” … with Seal himself. Fandom is very much a family affair, so, hey, they should be proud to say they were Mom & Dad’s lil’ Lombardi Trophy.

SG: Definitely agree with you on these — if you’re going to shamelessly promote yourself during the most self-aggrandizing sporting event on earth, you better do it well. I liked these individually, they were even better collectively… and who doesn’t love “Kiss from a Rose?”


Skittles “The Portrait” with Steven Tyler

SG: Like Skittles’ other slate of commercials, this one makes absolutely no sense… and that’s why it’s great. A ridiculous “portrait” of Steven Tyler made out of Skittles, squealing out “Dream On” until it shatters, shrieks and falls all over the ground. Perfect. When you’re selling little bags of candy, there’s not a whole lot to say.

BC: Completely agree. I expect Skittles commercials to be a little creepy. In fact, I’d find it off-putting and out-of-sync with their other messaging if it wasn’t bizarre. It’s also great when a celeb like Tyler can caricaturize himself. “Moving Day”

BC: Jeff Goldblum singing The Jeffersons theme “Movin’ on Up” as his piano literally floats above the ground would have been pretty good on its own, but then came the pun of all puns: He sees George and Weezy…only it’s George Washington and Li’l Wayne grilling out on the fabulous deck of a high-rise apartment. This is a commercial where details matter: In the background of the scene, the commercial itself is playing on the TV (1:26 mark in the video below).

SG: Personally, I could take or leave this one. But on a side note, there was a staggering amount of Jeff Goldblum in these commercials.


Jeep “Portraits”

SG: Let me start off by saying that I’m totally biased on this one: My first car was a Jeep CJ7 that I rebuilt with my dad and brothers — and on the morning of the Super Bowl itself, we drove an hour-and-a-half to pick up a Jeep engine for a rebuild we’re just getting started on. So in other words, the appeal to Pathos really got me here, especially the “We don’t make Jeep. You do.” on-screen text at the end. (Bethany, Jeff Goldblum was in this one too… plus the Independence Day trailer.) Jeep also did well on the second commercial with the cool “4×4” song.

BC: And I here I thought you were a Honda man. The main problem with this was the timing; with it being right after half-time, I was still pumped from Beyonce (Dancing in six-inch heels on grass? She put in a better performance than Peyton.) and just wasn’t ready for something this saccharine. Also, I’m Team Subaru.


Bud Light “The Bud Light Party”

BC: The party theme is getting a little outdated to be sure, but bringing on powerhouse comedians Seth Rogan and Amy Schumer and letting them use raunchy puns (“We got the biggest caucus in the country!”) and their unique ability to charm while being ironically stupid (“America has seen the light, and there’s a Bud in front of it”), and you have a recipe for success. Furthermore, the ad was only improved by the tweet of the night coming from Pabst Blue Ribbon.

SG: Rogan and Schumer were OK for Bud Light, but Paul Rudd stole the show for me.


Worst Commercials

Quicken Loans “Rocket Mortgage”

BC: Hey Scott, did you know you could get a mortgage while at a magic show? Or while grabbing a snack in the fridge? No? You’re better off for it. The concept of advertisers trying to bait millennial audiences (which I think we count as, despite being on the early ’80s end of it!) with quick-and-easy fixes like fast mortgages is so early 2000s.

SG: Not only was the commercial forgettable in-and-of itself — the whole “Rocket Mortgage” concept seems ridiculous. So you’re asking me to sign up for (potentially) hundreds of thousands of dollars over 10, 20, 30 years — and your big selling point is that I can do it quickly and easily by smartphone?

BC: After the subprime crisis and America’s shift to a rental economy, it’s no surprise so many lending firms are targeting young people. But millennials have proven we dislike being lumped into a single stereotype…almost as much as we dislike traditional TV.

Doritos “Ultrasound”

BC: It’s true, I love lowbrow, gross-out humor, but this was even a little too much for me. Of course, judging by the consumer sentiment and Twitter volume, it seems I’m in the minority listing this as one of the worst commercials.

SG: My thoughts exactly. I immediately thought of a certain Tom Green movie when I saw this one. Not a good look.

Doritos “Dogs”

SG: The ’90s called — they want the commercial back. While, for the most part, I miss the olden days when animal commercials ruled the Super Bowl, (Clydesdales, frogs, lizards, chimpanzees, etc.) this one was horrible. I realize Doritos has a competition in which someone wins $1 million for their commercial concept, but how this was the big winner is beyond me.

BC: Wow, we’re really hitting Doritos hard, aren’t we? I think you pointed out why. Doritos must leave quite a few ad agencies miffed by crowd-sourcing Super Bowl commercials. While I love dogs doing human things, this one just fell flat for me. Subaru’s dog driving the puppy was more heartfelt. Here’s a better idea: have people submit pics of their pets eating Doritos. Like my cat Jimmy, the world’s biggest Doritos fan.


OIC “Constipation”

SG: Were Super Bowl viewers really treated to a commercial about opioid-induced constipation? Yes. Yes, we were. Why? Not a clue. Is “OIC” really that much of an epidemic that someone needed to shell out $5 million for a 30-second audience with 111 million people? Apparently. (The same can all be said for the Jublia toenail fungus commercial.)

BC: Personally, I felt like I learned a lot about health problems that I’ll need to ask my doctor about as soon as possible. Maybe next Super Bowl we’ll be treated to a commercial for an expensive medication for my hypochondria.

Mountain Dew Kickstart’s “PuppyMonkeyBaby”

BC: To paraphrase a quote from Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: “Your [ad agency was] so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” And, yes, Scott, I’m bringing it all back around to Jeff Goldblum to close out.

SG: Great take! When all I can remember is the PuppyMonkeyBaby itself — and not the product that it was “promoting” — you’ve got a problem.