Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are the Super Bowl 50 champions for sure. But for everyone who doesn’t live in the Rocky Mountain State—or, at the very least, isn’t a Broncos fan—there were other winners and losers off the field and on our flat-screen TVs. That’s right, we’re talking about #brands and the the advertisement blitzkrieg we were subjected to during Super Bowl Sunday. From sheep channeling Freddie Mercury, to a distressed, anthropomorphic human digestive tract running in a panicked sprint through a crowded stadium, the ads did their best to get us talking. So let’s talk about the winners and losers of Super Bowl 50’s commercial onslaught.

Winners

Taco Bell Fans

Readily identifiable, guitar-driven anthem? Check. (Guns N’ Roses: Welcome to the Jungle); Celebs bridging sports and pop culture? Check. (George Takei, Law Hawk, James Harden, Neymar, et al); current pop culture references? Check. (Drones, Tindr, man-buns, those hoverboard things that blow up on planes.)

Taco Bell’s got a new, delicious interpretation of Tex-Mex that has me all types of ready for shameless indulgence in a guilty pleasure.

Drake Fans and Steve Harvey’s Career

T-Mobile had two separate hits. Not only did they cash in on the hilarity of Drake taking orders from a bunch of suits on changing the lyrics (because, nah.) They also cashed in on the zeitgeist of Steve Harvey’s infamous flubbing of the Miss Universe pageant while also taking some fire swipes at their competitor Verizon.

 

Animals


Honda, Doritos and Heinz featured truck lambs singing Queen, dogs dressed up as humans and wiener dogs dressed up as, well, weiners, in three funny, goofy commercials. We’ve come a long way from the early dot-com days of Pets.com and E-Trade featuring dog-sock-puppets and monkeys in their ads. The Doritos and Heinz ads in particular were inspired and irreverently funny choices, while the Honda one tied everything together with a “man-in-charge” voiceover throughout that was revealed to be a talking dog at the end.

Pokemon, not technically in any known taxonomic classification, but sure, “animals;” also had a big splash on #SB50 Sunday. The hilarious spoof of the faux-seriousness and pageantry that brands such as FitBit, Nike, Beats, adidas bring to their major ads was a stroke of genius for Pikachu’s gang.

 

Puppy monkey baby

Look, I don’t really “get” Mountain Dew anymore. I’m not a big fan of pop/soda and even as a pimple-faced teen I would opt for Sprite or 7-Up over doing the Dew (or Coke, etc.), but here’s the thing: Mountain Dew is a company of evil geniuses who created a social media riot within seconds of airing their latest. Mountain Dew,  “PuppyMonkeyBaby” and whatever overly-caffeinated concoction the furry nightmare fuel was shilling were the biggest winners of the SB50 ad game. There’s no such thing as bad publicity for a brand like Mountain Dew that’s aiming at the lowest common denominator. Well played, sirs. Well played.

 

 

Losers

Avocados from Mexico

It’s tough putting these guys in the losers pile. Avocados are great and I wanted to love the ad, but it had too much “quirky for quirky’s sake” and not enough “Scott Baio being Bob Loblaw from Arrested Development.” In any case, let me know if you guys want me to write your next avocado campaign for you. I’ve got some BIG ideas.

PayPal

Elon Musk is a founder of both PayPal and Tesla. Everyone already knows what PayPal does and who they’re there for. Tesla, on the other hand, is a mystery box. I’m not going to buy a Tesla and I’m not going to use PayPal more because of an ad that’s run, so give me the one with cool cars from the future and not the schlocky and over-the-top “millennial” “Old vs New” ad for an online payment company.

Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer

Two very funny people stuck in an unfunny ad.

Skittles

With Marshawn Lynch retiring during the Super Bowl (with a tweet!) I’m sure that Skittles is kicking themselves for not getting something more Beast Mode out there, but damn, this Steven Tyler ad fell flat and then got run over by a passing bus, before spontaneously catching on fire.  The less said about this forgettable spot the better.

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