The Best and Worst Ads of Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 has come and gone. And whether or not you have a take on the Broncos 24-10 win over the Panthers, the only thing left of the game now is the slow fade of Super Bowl commercials that we’ll all be inevitably pelted with for the next couple months. Hey, $5 million dollars for 30 seconds means that advertisers have to get their money’s worth. So what’s the scoop on this years’ commercials? Perennial advertisers Coke, Bud and Doritos made their scheduled appearances, and some newcomers like Marmot crashed the show.  So without further ado, here’s the takeaway from the best and worst ads of Super Bowl 50 in no particular order.

Avocados from Mexico’s commercial was particularly entertaining. High color contrasts, strange characters and intriguing premise made it somewhat compelling. An assortment of strange aliens that look like a cross between a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film set and an assortment of Star Wars’ Mos Eisley cantina characters are taking a museum tour through the remnants of human civilization. While our orange-headed and tufted guide shows characters around, he demonstrates (in perfect American English) a total misinterpretation of pop culture highlights, attributing a ‘civil war’ to the infamous black and blue dress (or is it gold and white?). The clincher though? Well, fresh guacamole is actually very good, so at least the aliens got one thing right…


As Super Bowl commercials get more and more entertaining for their own sake, advertisers are clearly looking to stand out in any way possible. That explains the next two commercials which were pretty strange, and in our humble opinion, not great. Mountain Dew’s puppy-monkey-baby is offputting in a way that’s hard to describe, and equally hard to watch.  Possibly making it worse is the fact that we’re pretty sure that’s exactly what they were going for.  And the idea that Doritos are good enough to compel a pre-term birth is pretty horrific when you actually think about it. This is a purposefully extreme approach that keeps the brand on the mind (We’re talking about it, right?). All of this begs the question: Mountain Dew and Doritos, are they really that good? And based on the horrors we just saw, do we wanna find out?


Marmot, a decent brand of camping/backpacking/seasonal gear, took a somewhat strange approach too. To be fair, they do get points for cleverly playing on the fact that hardly anyone stateside knows what a marmot is. Basically marmots are giant squirrels that live in the mountains of Europe. The entire time that the computer-rendered marmot is hanging out and playing with their human friend one can’t help but think, “What the heck is that thing? An over-sized groundhog or something?” Everything is made clear with the punchline, though, so we’d say it passes the test.


Bud Light and Taco Bell decided to cash in on current events, with Bud Light using the hype around the primaries to sell the idea that beer and Paul Rudd are the true great uniters across the party lines. Rather than use campaign ads and speeches to sell candidates, Bud Light used the format to suggest that Americans actually have a lot in common with one another, and even has one voice (when it comes to beer) that speaks to and for all of us.  Taco Bell cashed in on current events but took a slightly different angle. Rather than focus on politics, it played on the technological advancements in the news and in our lives. By declaring that its Quesalupa, a new fried, cheese-filled shell thing – apparently being rolled out in select locations – is going to be “bigger than” the Mars landing, or Tinder, or self-driving cars, it connects itself to the zeitgeist of the times. Whether or not you agree that cheese-filled shells are anything but the latest toxic bell abomination, or simply the newest of the Tex-Mex chimeras born in the Taco Bell labs, it was admittedly refreshing to get a reminder on all that has changed for us in the past few years.


Toyota Prius gets a shout-out for playing off of the fact that everyone makes fun of Priuses, and the last word that comes to mind when it comes to describing the car would be “fast.” And it’s probably true that one of the only other events (besides the Super Bowl) that could unite the entire country would definitely be a dramatic high-speed car chase.


Snickers casts Willem Dafoe as an unlikely model in drag, reminding us of his performance as FBI Agent Paul Smecker in The Boondock Saints. Decked out in Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white halter dress, turns out Dafoe was Monroe all along. Sometimes all a girl (or a cranky middle aged man with killer legs) needs in life to kill a case of the hangries is a Snickers!


Heinz* was a real winner though, with a commercial that was just the right amount of colorful and strange. Weiner dogs dressed as over-sized hot dogs are racing to leap lovingly onto their owners who are all dressed like Heinz ketchup or other common condiments of the Heinz line. It was just cute and weird enough – and so far removed from the cuteness/weirdness of the puppy-monkey-baby – that one actually didn’t mind seeing it few times. Imagine that, no need to worry about nightmares!

*Full Disclosure: Our favorite marketing boss’s last name is Heinz, and this DID NOT EFFECT OUR JUDGMENT IN ANY WAY.

Anyway, that’s a wrap. What were your favorite or least favorite Super Bowl commercials and why? Anything we missed? Tell us in the comments below!