Bubly No. 1 Super Bowl commercial
The winning commercial of Super Bowl LIII was “Bubly vs. Bublé” from Bubly Sparkling Water, according to faculty from Michigan State University’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations.
The commercial scored a touchdown with viewers, crossing the yard line with its humorous appeal in a quirky encounter featuring a mix-up with Canadian singer-songwriter Michael Bublé.
“It was funny and creative,” said Bob Kolt, professor of practice. “That’s why it won. When you can have someone make fun of your name and use that to inspire humor and build the brand, that is a great use of creativity.”
For the 22nd year in a row, professors from the department rated commercials during the Super Bowl.
Coming in second place was a star-studded ad for Amazon Alexa, titled, “Not Everything Makes the Cut,” which featured musical mishaps in a hot tub and a pug making an unexpected purchase of sausages.
In third place, Audi upped its game with “Cashew,” an odd commercial that juxtaposed a driver’s vision in his vehicle with the Heimlich maneuver, all while plugging the company’s goal to “electrify” one-third of all vehicles by 2025.
In addition to rating commercials, professors selected the best ads based on creativity, production, branding and/or sales and the "cool factor" – a category for ads that made viewers laugh or simply impressed audiences. While Bubly took the title of most creative, Google and Kia competed for the best production quality and Google also landed the spot for best branding and sales.
On the other end of the spectrum were the brands that never got off the ground, like an early Super Bowl ad from Turkish Airlines, which scored poorly from the start.
By the end of the game, the two brands that tied for worst Super Bowl commercial were Burger King and, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Burger King’s ad left professors wondering why they would ever want to “Eat Like Andy.”
“Why would anyone want to eat like that?” said instructor Stephen Flaster. “It just shows how bad their judgment is.”
The ad for, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” ranked high on gore, but wound up leaving expert viewers with a horrifyingly bad taste in their mouth.
The Super Bowl advertising spots featured many commercials that spoke to gender, including the strength of women, traditional gender roles and changing norms, the faculty said. These included an ad for, “The Handmaid’s Tale” from Hulu, an ad with tennis player Serena Williams from the dating app, Bumble, and an ad featuring football star Toni Harris from Toyota.
“I love all the commercials with messages of empowering women,” said instructor Alexandrea Thrubis. “Corporations bear some responsibility for spreading these messages. If not done well, it can be a dangerous move for a corporation. Taking sides can be divisive and damaging for a brand. If you want to engage in this kind of conversation, you have to balance both sides of the issue.”
While several brands ventured into this area, this year’s selection seemed to achieve that balance and yield positive results, according to MSU faculty.
Many professors agreed the Super Bowl LIII commercials that aired messages of support for issues like women’s empowerment and accessibility succeeded. While they didn’t necessarily sell a product outright, the advertising scored points on the side of corporate values and consumer opinion.
“My favorite commercials were the ones with a human emotional connection and the ones that explored technology and how we make a human connection with technology,” Thrubis said.
Super Bowl commercials left viewers with a lot of thought-provoking moments and pure entertainment, the faculty said.
In 2019, the spots for prime viewing during the game cost advertisers upwards of $5 million for a 30-second spot.
MSU faculty estimated that some corporations may have spent $20-$25 million on advertising, an investment that will ensure their brands are top of mind for years to come.