The 5 Best Ads of Super Bowl XLIX

Brands tried all sorts of approaches in their ads for Super Bowl XLIX—uplifting, amusing, awe-inspiring and yes, even horrifying—but only a handful of spots truly hit that sweet spot where brilliant idea meets flawless execution.

Notably, it was a night when many advertisers tried to be not just entertaining but edifying—in particular, socially conscious. But as both the Coca-Cola and McDonald’s ads proved, it can be tough to make a great commercial with a noble message.

Coke’s commitment to anti-bullying is admirable and important, and the broader campaign may well prove to be a creative success. But the metaphor of the spilled Coke on the server fell flat. Likewise, McDonald’s lovin’-as-payment idea was well-intentioned but produced a spot that actually got less interesting as it went along. (McDonald’s did have a great night on Twitter, though.) And then, of course, there was Nationwide—which tried to impart its own serious message about child accidents, with disastrous results.

Procter & Gamble’s Always brand, though, reminded us yet again that you can make a brilliant ad with a social message as long as you have a clever creative concept. The “Like a Girl” ad was the game’s creative high point—perhaps not surprisingly, since it was a repackaged version of a 2014 spot. (And in fact, it was among several ads repurposed from 2014 virals—Fiat, Dodge and Dove Men were among the others. That approach is a bit deflating for those who want to see all-new creative on the game, but it’s hard to begrudge them for going with something already proven.)

As far as the two archetypal Super Bowl approaches—comedy and spectacle—it was a mixed bag. Snickers, Loctite and Avocados from Mexico had the funniest ads, with BMW close behind. Mophie and Kia delivered the most entertaining extravaganzas (though the 60-second Mophie ad, which we were expecting, is much better than the :30 that aired). The Carnival and Jeep ads were beautifully shot, but in the end felt derivative (of RAM “Farmer” and a North Face ad, respectively).

5. Clash of Clans “Revenge”

4. Kia “The Perfect Getaway”

3. Loctite “Positive Feelings”

2. Snickers “The Brady Bunch”

1. Always “Like a Girl”

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