The Best 2014 Super Bowl Ads & The Worst

Super Bowl ad Bud Best FriendsIt was an interesting crop of ads for this year's Super Bowl. Not too many went way over the top this year. Even perennial Super Bowl worst list resident, Go Daddy, toned down their spots (relatively speaking). Seemed that sentimental and awwwww factor was in this year. Not that there weren't a few spots that made me laugh out loud, but many of the top spots were less about entertainment and more about pulling heart strings. And some where just downright weird. 

So, without further ado, here's my top ten Super Bowl spots and a couple of my least favorites. 

10. Cheerios – Gracie. This is a nice follow-up to a previous ad featuring the same family. It is simple and a straightforward showing of how Cheerios are inserted to everyday family life – especially families with young children. The acting is very well done, as the little girl isn't happy to find out she will have competition for her family's affection and uses that fact to negotiate for a new puppy. The look on the mom's face after dad agrees is priceless. Nicely done, Cheerios

 Cheerios – Gracie

9. Maserati 2014 Ghibli – Strike. This ad is beautifully shot and a story nicely told. It is strategically sound for a new car entry into a crowded market of international giant corporations (although Maserati isn't exactly a startup here). It features a voiceover story told by Beasts of the Southern Wild's oscar-nominated Quvenzhane Wallis, who also appears in the ad. She's great. The cinematography is great. The story-telling is good. But it's a bit too derivative of the movie Wallis and her story-telling ways come from. Otherwise, this would have ranked much higher on my list.

 Maserati 2014 Ghibli – Strike

8. Toyota – Terry Crews & The Muppets. I admit it. I have a thing for the Muppets. Always have. And I love Terry Crews. So there was no way this ad wasn't making the list. Big fun whenever you hit the road with this crew. Plus, love the ending with Crews dancing out of the sunroof with his tie around his head and stops to say to his neighbor enthusiastically, "There were singing vegetables! And chickens!" His neighbor, who happens to be Kermit mumbles, "Yeah, happens to me all the time." Made me smile.

 Toyota – Terry Crews & The Muppets

7. Budweiser – A Hero's Welcome. I know this one ranked a lot higher on most people's lists, but I didn't rank it as high because, I mean, how many times in the last dozen years have we seen an advertiser pull at the heartstrings by creating a welcome home or thank you spot for our armed forces? Granted, this was done very well. And the fact that it was an actual soldier who's love one won a contest to have this huge hero's welcome does have bonus points with me. Still, I've seen this before.

 Budweiser – A Hero's Welcome

6. Audi – Doberhuahua. This one made me literally laugh out loud. Quite loud. Several times. It doesn't have much to do with the car product until the very end, when they make the copy point that "we find compromise scary too." But, the whole giant Doberman head on a small dog body wrecking havoc play cracked me up. Then throw in Sarah McLachlan, singer of sad songs for dogs, having her guitar ripped from her hands by one of these Frankendogs is just pure fun.

 Audi – Doberhuahua

5. MicroSoft – Empowering. Another one of this year's feel good crop of ads. I think this did a good job of tapping into human emotions and showing how technology is making our lives better, even creating miracles. It does a good job of positioning MicroSoft as a technology company beyond the software you use at the office for memos and spreadsheets and stuff. I liked the wide range of breakthroughs and uses for tech in this ad.

 MicroSoft – Empowering

4. Radio Shack – The Phone Call. It's so about time for Radio Shack to do something like this! Everyone thinks of this brand as the old store – hell, the word "radio" connotes old (as does Shack). So, in order to change perceptions about their stuck in the 80's brand perception, the 80's called them and wanted their store back. Suddenly all kinds of icons from the 80's are flooding the store and stripping out everything. It's a fun and memorable way to reposition a brand and roll out a new look for the store.

 Radio Shack – The Phone Call

3. Ford Fusion – Nearly Double. I know I have this rated higher than pretty much any list I've seen, but I loved this concept and it's execution. To run back to back spots with virtually the same copy, but with double the time and more than double the extravagance – all to hype the brand promise of nearly double the mileage of ordinary cars – I thought it was a lot of fun. Why not have James Franco play the part of Rob Riggle in the remake, double-length version? Why not replace a small dog with a tiger? Why not replace sprinklers with gorgeous fountains? Why not make this my number 3 ad? Works for me.

 Ford Fusion – Nearly Double

2. AAA – Molly. This ad was so well done. It was emotional and touched the heart of anyone who's had children. The story was told with examples I haven't heard before in similar ads. And the visuals were stunning. Beautiful use of the stop action 3D effect. Great expressions on the still shots that told the story very well, whether it was the determination on Molly's face as a safety guard or the sheer glee as she ran away with the hose after filling dad's car up with water. Just a beautiful spot.

 AAA – Molly

1. Budweiser – Puppy Love. Easy one here. It was almost unanimous among everyone I talked to or read about – people love this spot. And for good reason. It was a new twist on Bud's signature stories featuring their Clydesdale horses and dogs. It was a warm story anyone and everyone could relate to. Done well Bravo, Budweiser, bravo!

 Budweiser – Puppy Love

Bonus Fav: Wonderful Pistachios – Sephen Colbert. After I'd already completed this list, I suddenly remembered one of my favorite spots that I hadn't put in my top 10. But I would have, if i'd remembered. it's the wonderfully wacky 2-part ad for Wonderful Pistachios done by Stephen Colbert. Especially love the ends shot where he opens his head!

 Wonderful Pistachios – Stephan Colbert

Honorable Mentions: I did love the series of teasers for the upcoming revival of the TV show 24 – can't wait for that to come out. I also really liked the Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt spot that once again has John Stamos getting all flirty with yogurt all over himself – only to have the playfulness interrupted by his old Full House co-stars. And I have to admit I did like the Bud Light Up For Whatever spot that took a supposedly unsuspecting regular guy on a wild ride one night.

Worst of the Worst. There were plenty of duds this year too. My least favorite was the T-Mobile use of Tim Tebow for their un-contract idea. Maybe it's the overexposure to Tebow over the last few years, but I didn't find it a good match – and his acting was awful! My other least favorite also use a celebrity badly. It was SodaStreamGuru's use of Scarlett Johansson, who apparently is a doctor. Halfway through the spot, she says, "how can I make this go viral" Then, she whips off her lab coat to reveal a slightly sexy evening gown, an orchestra in the background and a sultry voiceover egging her own as she sips soda while making sexy faces. Sorry, it's going to take a whole lot more than that to go viral. 

Well, those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Mike McClureMike McClure, Executive Creative Director

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