Which commercial won the Super Bowl?

Sources: Amazon, NFL, Doritos, Toyota
Feb 05, 2018

The 2018 Super Bowl will go down as one of the most exciting displays of offense in the history of the game as well as the first victory for the Philadelphia Eagles. What won’t be remembered, as much, are the string of “meh” commercials that were played throughout the broadcast.

Advertisers this year sought to avoid the discord that has become commonplace in politics and society to focus on unifying social messages and humor. While controversy around the commercials may be minimal, will the same prove true for the brand awareness and sales generated by the ads?

In its annual Ad Meter ranking, USA Today listed the top five spots as:

Amazon.com – “Alexa Lost Her Voice”

The commercial, which features a cameo by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has Alexa losing her voice while responding to a question about the weather in Austin. Amazon’s backup plan involves a variety of celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins responding to questions in less than helpful ways.

National Football League – “Touchdown Celebrations to Come”

The commercial brought Eli Manning, quarterback of the New York Giants, together with Odell Beckham Jr., the team’s talented and controversial wide receiver, to “go work on that thing.” It turns out that the “thing” is a dance routine inspired by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray in the movie “Dirty Dancing.”

Budweiser – “Emergency Water Program”

The spot, with the song “Stand by Me” as its soundtrack, features employees from the company’s plant in Cartersville, GA rolling out canned water to ship to those in need in places including California, Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas.

Doritos and Mountain Dew – “Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice”

It’s a rap faceoff between products on different ends of the heat spectrum, lip-synced by actors Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” fame and Morgan Freeman. Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes provide the raps.

Toyota – “Good Odds”

This commercial follows the story of Lauren Woolstencroft, a Canadian paralympian and electrical engineer, and her journey through life to become a medal-winning alpine skier. The odds of her success go from astronomical numbers to a certainty by the end of the spot.

Adweek’s list of top five spots put Procter & Gamble’s “It’s a Tide Ad” at number one. The magazine said it could have put all four of the Tide spots, which starred David Harbour of “Stranger Things” throughout, in its top five, but it wanted to give some space to others. The four ads not from P&G to make the list were Amazon’s Alexa, Doritos/Mountain Dew, Tourism Australia’s “Dundee” and the NFL’s “Touchdown Celebrations.” 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What were your favorite and least favorite commercials from this year’s Super Bowl broadcast and why?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"My vote is split between Budweiser and Toyota. Why? I love the humanity of the stories. It reminds me that there is so much good in America."
"I’ll offer the T-Mobile ad using babies to argue for pay equality … and kudos to Tide for snagging Stranger Things’ David Harbour."
"Eli strikes the Patriots again and this time he’s not even playing! I enjoyed the NFL ad with Manning and Beckham for its originality."

Join the Discussion!

31 Comments on "Which commercial won the Super Bowl?"

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Max Goldberg

My favorite, among a batch of pretty bad ads, was Toyota’s Good Odds. What was with advertisers this year? Why spend $5 million a spot and fill it with such poor creative? Where was the humor–except for the excellent NFL spot? I kept waiting for great spots that never aired.

Shep Hyken

A few thoughts….

It’s hard to sell a product in a Super Bowl commercial. But brand awareness and identity — that’s another story. Humor always wins, and when you can deliver it with a message that is serious you have a winning combination. The Toyota commercial where the religious “leaders” get together to go to a football game with the idea that “We’re all on the same team” showcases some of what their brand stands for.

Anheuser-Busch showed how community minded they are with their water commercial.

The NFL showed a softer and more humorous side — as in a human side — with their commercial on touchdown celebrations. It is important as they lose fans because of the danger and violence associated with football.

Zel Bianco

The Toyota spots were the most memorable to me because they did not focus on their cars. They left me with a good feeling about Toyota and that some companies try to see the bigger picture beyond their products. The story was the hero instead of the product and the brand won.

Art Suriano

There were many great commercials, but I found the Tide ads to be the most enjoyable. They were smart, creative and held my interest. Some of the Super Bowl ads were too confusing as always, and others were just a bit dull, but Tide used wit nicely to make me watch an ad for a product that I might not have otherwise paid much attention to. Nicely done!

Joy Chen

My two favorites were Amazon’s Alexa and Wendy’s. Amazon’s ad was entertaining and brought out the great qualities of Alexa. Wendy’s ad was creative while explaining their product benefits through comparisons to McDonald’s. I did not care for the Sprint ad.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

As usual some really great commercials, but Tide distinguished itself in gaining brand awareness, unaided recall and water cooler conversation worthiness. Their co-opting of other brand icons (such as the Old Spice man) was innovative in its leveraging of the brand development investment of others, and the timing of this ad in the consumer buy/branding cycle was noteworthy. Tide knows that consumers have wash-powder loyalty, to the point where the first powder used by students as they embark on their post secondary education adventure is what they will likely use for life. The ad targeting of a wide demographic will provide high ROI.

Kim Garretson
3 years 8 months ago

I thought Doritos/Mountain Dew and Alexa were a tie for best. To have these iconic actors lip sync some of the best rappers around, and in the case of Alexa, also bringing on iconic actors and artists was a stroke of genius by both brands.

Lisa Goller

Doritos/Mountain Dew consistently wins Super Bowl Sunday. The off-the-wall humor fits the young, male target. (Alexa’s bubble bath scene also stood out.)

Brandon Rael

Great question. The advertising complex has been struggling for years. However, the annual Superbowl event is probably one of the few exceptions, where people truly tune in to the advertising.

Both the Amazon Alexa and the Lindsey Vonn commercials really resonated, as one focused on the comedic side of voice-activated commerce and the other demonstrated the tenacity and determination of the human spirit. In years past, the shock and awe strategy worked well for the Geicos of the world. Now, so do those ads that successfully focus on our daily challenges with technology, or on the human spirit.

What truly works in the advertising world is the ability to cultivate a commercial which goes beyond the actual product or brand. The subtlety of commercials works extremely well, and people will associate certain feelings and emotions to the brands themselves.

Paula Rosenblum

Eli Manning wins the Superbowl! Most other ads were pretty blech.

Byron Kerr
Byron Kerr
Head of eCommerce, Tuft & Needle
3 years 8 months ago

I was a big fan of the Alexa, Tide (#tidead), NFL and Toyota commercials. Great mixture of humor and/or brand awareness but overall, the commercials were not the best this year. Back in the early 2000s, the commercials were very, very strong. It seems that as the ad spot budgets increase, the creative has taken a dive.

Neil Saunders

My vote is split between Budweiser and Toyota. Why? I love the humanity of the stories. It reminds me that there is so much good in America.

Admittedly, the Tide ad was funny – and hit the mark about Super Bowl advertisements!

Anne Howe

Personally, I liked the Doritos/Mountain Dew ad — great classic stuff from iconic Super Bowl advertisers. And the Good Odds ad from Toyota celebrates what we all should honor in human achievement. The rest, including Tide, were fairly mundane. Time to re-think what great creative really means in the context of sports broadcasts.

Steve Montgomery

There were more meh ads this year and several that were poor for one reason or another. The one I did stop and rewind so my wife could see it was the Diet Coke ad. I very surprised after all the discussions over the last few years of not using overly thin models that the young lady in the ad looked like a tall version of Twiggy. Perhaps the intention was to use a model that represented their tall thin cans, but the message it conveyed to young women watching was just wrong.

Lee Peterson

Forgot one! The Tide commercials were great! My personal fave. I loved the last NFL ad as well (“just let him dance”). The NFL could use a little self deprecating humor — good show. So could the NBA, but that’s for another time.

Doug Garnett
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 8 months ago

Saw a lot of incredibly poor advertising (though great short films) this year.

The winner to me is clear: Tide. The ads did exactly what they needed — built a reminder so that when we think of clean clothes Tide is one of the first to come to mind. It’s no easy feat to do cleverly. But theirs was well done — especially with the repetition that happened throughout the Super Bowl.

Losers? WeatherTech wasted a tremendous amount of money telling us they make something in the U.S. (a secondary consumer value) while never telling us what it is (while I know them because of my hardware and auto industry work, my family wondered who the heck they were).

I’m putting Alexa in the same category. Same lame applications (changing light color? That’s the best you can offer?), it’s not usually a great idea worshipping your product breaking, and the commercial is not really very funny unless you already own an Alexa (from reading comments).

Lee Kent

I loved the Toyota ad however there was no obvious connection to the brand. That was my take on most of them. The one with a great story and connection was Budweiser. So i will go with that one for my 2 cents.

Gene Detroyer

They were all terribly boring — except for Touchdown Celebration. It was the only one that I was compelled to watch to completion.

Peter Luff

Collectively based on costs and message I think a C grade is the best I could offer.

Cathy Hotka

I’ll offer the T-Mobile ad using babies to argue for pay equality … and kudos to Tide for snagging Stranger Things’ David Harbour.

Ron Margulis

Eli strikes the Patriots again and this time he’s not even playing! I enjoyed the NFL ad with Manning and Beckham for its originality. I’m sure I’m going against many of my fellow BrainTrust members with this one, but I found the Amazon ad anti-climactic.

Celeste C. Giampetro

The Tide ads were the cleverest by far. Especially interesting considering that P&G has slashed digital spending (per Marc Pritchard) but clearly invested quite a bit in TV.

Ed Rosenbaum

A lot of companies paid a lot of money to air these ads. And not one, not one stood out as one I would want or need to see again. I was disappointed. But at least we got to see a good game for a change. Guess we can’t have everything. If you twist my arm and force me to select, maybe one of the Toyota ads. Certainly not the Doritos one. It was a year that the Clydesdales only made a brief cameo. Even they were disappointed.

Dick Seesel

Advertisers seemed more concerned this year about burnishing their brand image instead of selling something (or accomplishing both). While many of the ads were not overtly political, they focused on a theme of “inclusiveness” following a year of divisive rhetoric that even pulled the NFL into the debate.

Many of these ads met their objective, but I’m voting for the sequence of Tide ads threaded through the broadcast. It was a creative and humorous way to pitch the attributes of an otherwise prosaic product, and to plug a few other P&G products in an almost subliminal way.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

1. Eli Manning
2. Martha Stewart and Jack-in-the-Box
3. Alexa

And I still don’t get “Dilly Dilly” ….

Harley Feldman