2013 Super Bowl Commercials – Winners and Losers.

In the battle of the teams, Baltimore won.
But in the battle of the brands, the score’s not as easy to agree on. Here are my Winners and Losers from this year’s Super Bowl spots.
In the spirit of global viewing and complete accessibility to all the spots, I won’t differentiate based on where they were aired or whether they were released prior to game day.

The Winners

1. Oreo – “Blackout”
The more timely a message is, the more relevant it is. And no one proved that more than Oreo. With a blackout in the game, Oreo created and tweeted the ad featured above. With half the world sharing in the experience, this just-in-time execution may have immediately connected with more people than any other ad in history. Not all of us drink Bud. Not all of us use Samsung. But ALL of us watching the game experienced the blackout at the same time. Oreo connected our dots immediately.

Am I over-dramatizing it? Maybe. But I want to see the numbers before I admit it. With dedicated creative and social teams, Oreo set themselves up for success. In their wake are all the other spots and campaigns created months before (including their own).

Is it possible that a free tweet was more powerful than all the million dollar spots? Yup. Oreo owned the night and they didn’t have to pay a ton of cash in media costs to do it.

2. RAM Trucks – “Farmer”
So, God made a farmer but he may have had a hand in this spot, too. Beautiful still photography accompanied by real audio from Paul Harvey’s moving 1978 speech created a spot that was refreshing and unique (even if the grizzled truck drivers looked a little familiar). There’s not a heck of a lot of farmer in me but this spot made me wish there was.

3. Go Daddy – “YourBigIdea.co”
Apparently, securing your own URL doesn’t actually require the scantily clad women and celebrity spokespeople we’ve seen from Go Daddy in the past. This spot has an obvious insight, a simple idea and it’s well executed. It miraculously strays from the juvenile attitude of the past while still feeling appropriate for the brand. The other one with Bar Refaeli? I can still taste the throw up.

4. Molson Canadian – “The Canadians”
Rethink was given the responsibility to transform Canadian and they went out and got former CPB CD, Aaron Starkman to lead the charge. He and his team have done a nice job. They went back to the obvious Canadian foundations of the brand and used a nice idea to get us to the aspirational rip-o-matic footage that all domestic beer drinking Canadians will love. Best of all, it was made in Canada.

5. Budweiser – “Brotherhood”
If you didn’t tear up during this spot, you have Buckley’s running through your veins and you tear wings off angels in private.

6. Jeep – “Whole Again”
I didn’t like this ad. I thought it was a blatant use of soldiers and patriotism to sell a product and I reacted negatively. Throw in an epic orchestral track, and an Oprah Winfrey voice over and you can see why I thought this was a little over the top. That being said, I’m clearly not the target market. American audiences connect more to “rah-rah” military  messages and – if twitter is any indicator – this effort certainly was popular south of the border. #GodBlessAmerica

7. Budweiser Canada – “Budweiser Red Lights”
A goal light that is synched with real games to sound off and light up whenever your favourite team scores? Are you kidding me? Now THAT is innovation. And isn’t it amazing that when the idea is this good, we don’t really discuss the merits of the spot itself? Who cares? I want a light.

8. Samsung
So it turns out the teaser wasn’t a teaser. It was just another execution. Big deal. The spots are funny and they made quite a statement with the talent they brought on board. You know how the Jays silenced the Yankees by getting Jose Reyes and RA Dickey? That’s what Samsung just did to Apple.

The Losers

1. Blackberry
The product is getting rave reviews. Too bad I can’t say the same about their spot. “It’s easier to show you what it can’t do” is first round thinking generated by a junior team in love with the wacky possibilities. Yes, it has legs. But if people don’t care, does it really matter? The product is next generation. The advertising feels like it’s from the original dot com era.

2. Speed Stick – ‘Unattended Laundry”
Was it the juvenile humour in the spot? Nope.
It was asking people to tweet their #handleit moment. The results were embarrassing for all involved. A special kind of low occurred when Speedstick applauded their own efforts with the tweet below.

Hyundai – “Gaspocalypse”
They spent a lot of dough to get us to a disappointing finish.
This is the Vernon Wells of commercials.

2. TacoBell – “Viva Young”
Funny, I thought this was an RRSP commercial with attitude. All it was missing was a Grandma surfing.

3. Volkswagen – “Get in. Get happy.”
Bob Marley is rolling.

4. Coke
Feels like forced interaction to me.  At least the online user experience was simple, fun(ish) and provided some surprises along the way. Still, even though I voted I’m not really interested in going back to find out who won.

5. BMO
My money makes sense because I can walk around buying stuff before heading into a branch? This may have been the biggest waste of money spent all night. And is it just me or does it look like they shared that street with Blackberry?

6. Bell Fibe
Using the game show question and answer format to address key product points in the creative brief is marginally better than having the client read the script on camera themselves.

 7. Wonderful Pistachios
You know what you did.
And the only one who should be more embarrassed is Psy himself.



  1. Great Blog Ron. Enjoyed it. Look forward to another coffee.


  2. Paul Love

    Excellent post, sir!

    I don’t think you’re over-dramatizing the Oreo moment at all. One of the factors that decides how big something is going to be in our moment-by-moment social-media-driven society is how quickly it catches fire. Oreo seized upon a moment where they knew they would have the attention of millions, and they did it in a way that was subtle, charming, and totally about that moment.

    And if you want numbers, Oreo’s Instagram account gained over 30,000 new followers last night.

  3. Suzanne Filiatrault

    Thanks so much Ron – totally great to relate to the perspective you shared. Could the Canadian ad be the best (finally) update to “the Rant” ever? And the GAME SYNC’ed goal light. Holy moley – there’s a good one.

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