The Playbook: What ads lacked and sacked during Super Bowl 51


While many folks gather around the TV to catch the big dance that we can come to know as the Super Bowl – no matter if it is on the field or during the halftime event, all eyes for the most part were watching the game.

Another core element of the big dance that has come to be are the commercials or ads (which some marketers affectionately call them). Ranging in time from 30 to 60 seconds brands shell out big bucks and hashtags to get new eyes on their brand + product. This year the cost for a 30 second ad increased from $4.9M to $5M. With roughly 111.3 Million viewers on the line, the potential Return of Investment could potentially see a small margin increase due to the front-end cost.


Beyond those initial numbers, brands more than likely took into extreme measure for the maximum gain on that short span of time to capture interest. From hashtags to just mentions/likes/memes, brands searched for ways to capitalize on their moment in the sun.


As the title plays off of football jargon, in personal opinion – some of the ads lacked. While this could be seen by marketers and consumers alike, one common tone that seen was – the WHY? Ads can be hilarious and still capture the why/purpose of this ad. While punchlines are stellar, the trill will be gone to another popular meme by sunrise. #SB51 had a ton of ads with potentially solid content, but lacked the close of why should we care.

Another factor that some brands lacked were the storylines – another simple lesson were brands lack, not just during the Super Bowl. Just as you have a funny story from the weekend to share at the watering hole, you put thought into the story – not just time/money. Throwing dinero at an ad captures your audience’s attention for that time slot, but how does your ad keep the conversation going?

The last thing that I saw lacking was the consistency and balance between the brand and ad story. One brand in particular, 84 Lumber, had a stellar ad that spoke to immigration and the journey that many possibly take. Many, like myself, became wrapped up in the dynamic message that roughly 60 second ad positioned and fell in love. There was door within the ad that many took as the door to freedom, yet that door + wall became the center of conversation when the company issued a statement thereafter. This statement was connected to the degrading position of the travel ban that was placed by our current presidential administration. The ad story should personify what the brand is about. While in this case it did, it was done in a non-tasteful manner.

 So, enough of the lacks – what sacks were seen during #SB51? There was were brands who did what I spoke about above. Sacks, get it? If you aren’t into football – here you go. Where others threw the ball and lacked – these brands got it right.

Budweiser“Born The Hard Way”

This ad spoke to how the brand was founded and to bring light back to the immigration story that this country is in such deep discussion about. Why? Immigrants created Budweiser, you’re welcome.



Trending on another common position in cultural discussion – feminism + girls just killing it! This ad showcasing a boxcar derby race and unknowingly among the pack is a little girl who steals the show + wins! Oh, and her dad supports her ambitions. Win! #DriveProgress



Oh to be in High School again with the dreams that would allow one to flourish. Honda took that concept that bridged it some big names like Missy Elliott, Tina Fey,  Steve Carell and more! “The Power of Dreams” drove back to their own brand with showing how going back and fueling the future came from a dream. Great pivot, Honda!


Mr. Clean“Cleaner of your Dreams”

This ad was hilarious, but showcased another side of Mr. Clean that we haven’t seen before. And many weren’t mad about the show with a play- off Magic Mike. How could we not mention this ad? Ha!


There were several other ads that were impactful and sparked conversation after they aired. Want to see them? Click here for #AdBowl and #AdBlitz power ranking, respectfully!


Which asuperbowl1d was your favorite?  


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