How about a heavy side of adult contemporary goodness to kick off this bowl ad review party? Holding ONNNNN and holding it INNNNN …

Don’t worry, we brought the macro brews. Yes, that’s a jab to Bud’s grill. Do they not realize that many of said micro-sippers double as macro-chuggers? Oops. Anyway, this year, young heartthrob Steve Buscemi played a perfect Jan, Fiat decided to advertise for Viagra, Jeff Bridges hummed, and Nationwide … well, they killed a kid.

Yes, the ads got serious. From domestic abuse and accidental deaths, to daddy love and cola-induced cyber attacks, advertisers didn’t shy away from serious topics. What does this mean? We think it means brands are getting even bolder—and more careless.

Take a look at what our crew had to say after the jump.

Best Ad: (TIE) MOPHIE “All Powerless”

This year, brands forgot to put their creatives on a leash.

This year, brands forgot to put their creatives on a leash.


“Who doesn’t love big money graphics, dogs walking people, and a clever turn of phrase? GOD KNOWS I DO!”    – Aaron May

“Mophie, a remarkable product that has been around for several years, but a newcomer to the ad world, rose to the top with an epic post-apocalyptic commercial that puts our smartphone dependencies and low battery fears in parallel with God himself. It was a good investment for the portable charging device to break through on a mega scale with its answer for a ‘devastating’ consumer need.”    – Sean Dana

Best Ad: (TIE) Always “Like a Girl”

Always showed its girl power in their ‘Like a Girl’ piece. I was anticipating a cameo from female little league phenom Mo’ne Davis, though it didn’t need to rely on a familiar face. It was both memorable and powerful.”   – Joseph Dalton

Taken Out Back, Liam Neeson Style: (TIE) Kim K’s “Data Stash” for T-Mobile

“Make Kim stop.”    – Humans

Also Taken Out Back, Liam Neeson Style: Bud Light Pac Man

“Make a new commercial. For f***’s sake.”    – Aaron May

Biggest Backfire: Nationwide “Make Safe Happen”

“The Nationwide dead child ad … so awful. I had to switch channels immediately to keep my kids from seeing the rest of it. Not the time to shove their mortality into their faces, thank you very much.”    – Rob Schuette

Dishonorable Mention: Mercedes AMG GT “Fable”


Not pictured and doesn’t care: Honey Badger

“… preposterously lame. It is essentially CGI pornography. Follow my train of thought:

  • I’ve seen the same story 1000 times with the same end result
  • Change out the talent/setting/twist and the story stays the same
  • While the content of the video is compelling, it’s something I watch—not something I internalize
  • The actual ‘thing’ is pretty rad but this expression cheapens the value of that ‘thing’
  • But with all that said; I really, really want a Mercedes AMG GT-S… like so bad I might make really bad decisions to get it.

There is no point beyond the clichéd, overplayed tortoise/hare parable (not to mention the twist is the exact same twist every single other tortoise/hare commercial has taken.”    – Neal Mabee

Ad That Most Shamelessly Exploits Babies and Puppies:

“Budweiser. With the horse … and that puppy. Oh, how I hate puppies.*”   – Chenelle Messner

Best Movie Preview: Jurassic World

“After the slurry of sadness that was “Nissan: For Weekend Dads” and “Nationwide: Apparently We Sell Horcruxes” and “Budweiser: This Puppy Gets To Live,” it was a relief to go back and watch the Jurassic World spot. I have so many questions, starting with this: What the hell is actually happening in this movie? Is it a Chris Pratt/velociraptor buddy cop flick? How many waivers do people have to sign before they go kayaking down Apatosaurus River? Is that the kid from Iron Man 3? Is the whole movie just setting us up to be Sam Neill, collectively tearing off our shades and wondering if the writers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should?”     – Katherine Monasterio

Funniest Spot: Snickers “Settle It”

The Snickers ad delivered. But those Skittles … there was only one way to settle it. The usual way. Skittles “Settle It” is 4.5 million well spent.

“We’re suckers for Trogdor arms on babies and pups.”    – Aaron May Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 8.42.40 PM

Most Formulaic: Lexus “Make Some Noise”

“If you actually do want to ‘Be Seen, Be Heard,’ don’t BE FORMULAIC! These commercials were so typical and formulaic it completely didn’t match their tag line…it’s like they thought they wanted to be gutsy and bought into the ‘Be seen Be Heard’ line but then completely back pedaled with their oh-so-boring ad.”    – Deborah Samocki

Most Innovative: BMW

“I hate Katie Couric. A lot. Not a fan of Bryant Gumbel either. But I loved how this real clip from the past demonstrated that state of initial learning about a new technology, which sounds laughable now that it’s been around for 20 years. Without any message from the present, it communicated that brilliantly. I think it would have been better used for a different product than a car, but I liked how the point of the opening was self-evident for me (and probably most people).”    – Rob Schuette

Final Thoughts

Overall, the ads were pretty meh. But we applaud Mophie, Snickers, and Skittles for squeezing some hilarity past the sadness. Carnival’s “Return to the Sea” deserved some praise, and we “Ohhh!”ed when Esurance put Walter White behind a pharmacy counter. Dove’s “Real Strength” piece appeared to be a great ode-to-dad, until it fluttered and died at the end. Dodge lapped Nissan this year by showing the power of wisdom and wit in its latest Challenger ad. The commercial changed gears halfway through when cliché advice turned full carpe diem. It felt raw and authentic, much like the 2011 “Imported from Detroit” ad featuring Eminem.

This year, brands really took the old adage to heart: any press is good press. Results varied.

* Chenelle Messner actually loves puppies.