In order to adequately evaluate this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials, it’s probably important to first understand why companies are willing to spend $5 Million for 30 seconds for a “share of mind” of the consumers tuning in to watch the big game. It’s all about the eyeballs. Because today’s audiences are so fragmented in traditional marketing channels, this is the only event in which you have so many people gathered to experience one thing. And last year’s broadcast on Fox totaled over 111 million TV viewers. There are very few broadcast events that will get that many people together. In fact, only four other events in TV history have gotten higher. We don’t know the numbers yet for last night’s game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it close to that.

So, with that in mind and knowing that advertisers spent at least $5 million on just the ad spend and another large amount of coin in just production costs, here is my take on the spots aired last night. I looked at these advertising gems through an interesting lens. While many were funny and got a laugh, that is not my only criteria. I want to know if the ad moved me, not necessarily to tears, but did it spark an emotion (laughter, tears), caused me to do something (look up the ad/brand online), or look at the brand in a new light (more on this in my evaluation). Before I get into my rankings, I will say that I was impressed with a couple of things that I noticed this year that I really liked:

1. The use of multiple commercials to complete the narrative. I really appreciated how several advertisers kept up the anticipation for a payoff after multiple spots – Tide, The NFL with Eli Manning, and Bud Light. However, I will say that the Bud Light/Bud Knight resolution completely fell flat. Whereas the other two were fantastic. I really wanted to know why Eli was muttering to himself – and that payoff was fantastic.

2. Advertisers are taking viewers to their websites. On a couple of occasions, the brands used a “call to action”-like invitation of seeing an entire trailer or an extended version of the commercial on their website. This is great for a couple of reasons. The first it allows them to track the success of the ad. If you are spending upwards of $5-10 million on a commercial, you might as well get all of the mileage you can. And getting them to a website or engaging in social media is a positive outcome for an advertiser.

Here are my top 3 commercials from last night’s broadcast (in no particular order).

1. Toyota – Good Odds

This was the first add to air after the official “start” of the Super Bowl, or at least when my DVR started the recording. I thought Toyota set the bar high with this spot. Not only did I want to learn more about how Toyota has developed technology for the impaired, but it was super emotional. I got chills watching it. it was also timely with the Winter Olympics and Paralympics taking place this month. Had they run just another truck or car commercial, I would not have had the same feeling about the company. Well done Toyota.

2. Tide – The entire campaign last night. However, I appreciated the Old Spice and Mr. Clean spoofs.

I am sure this entire campaign is going to make everyone’s list of top commercials from Super Bowl 52. I am no different, these were great and super funny. But it also kept you guessing. When I saw the Old Spice guy, I thought cool – another Old Spice ad, but no – it was just another Tide ad. With all of the buzz around these spots for the next couple of days – they have certainly realized an ROI on producing the commercials.

3. Amazon Echo – Alexa Loses Her Voice

This is another one in which the add kept me guessing. After reading Alex Siminoff’s blog post last week, I was on the lookout for this one. However, I made every effort not to watch in advance. I wanted to enjoy the discovery of who the mystery Alexa voices were going to be. And I thought they did an excellent job – Cardi B (relevant), Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter (classic), and Gordon Ramsay was hilarious. As someone that owns an Echo device, I will further appreciate the voice that we hear as my sons ask Alexa to play the Power Rangers theme song every morning as soon as they get up.

In addition, here are two honorable mentions because I really liked key elements of these ads:

Pringles – Wow

We need more Bill Hader on TV, Film, or anywhere. Plus the line, “Nobody asked you Kevin” was the single best line from all of the ads last night.

Dodge Ram – Vikings

I loved the music! In fact, I have already played the fast version of Queen’s We Will Rock You about a dozen times. I have never heard it before and thought it made the ad really stand out. In fact, this was probably my fourth favorite commercial. I also thought the graphic “Watch The Full Story” was great and it got me to go to the website. I wanted to see more about the commercial and hopefully see additional videos. The additional effort paid off, the extended version was much better and it also meant more of Queen.

The biggest dud of the night:

Sketchers – Howie Long Sport

Really Sketchers? You just spent a ton of money on a Super Bowl commercial only to run a recycled ad that originally aired in 2016. It wasn’t that great when you paid a fraction of the cost to air it. I get it, Howie Long played football and this is the “sport” version of your shoes, but you could have easily upped the production value and made it a respectable commercial. Have Howie Long rescue the passengers from a hi-jacking while wearing his extra-wide comfortable athletic shoes. That would have at least been memorable.

What were your favorite ads from this year’s Super Bowl? Let us know in the comments.

By: Jacob Farrar @jacobmfarrar