#MadMenSuperbowl 2016 – This Year’s Wins (& Misses)

So the big game’s in the can. Big night for Bronco Nation, Queen Bey & beer sales.

And…#MadMenSuperbowl 2016!

A couple of things to consider before we get to the main course:

  • Spots cost between $4.6 million – $5 million
  • Over the past five seasons, the approximate asking price for a 30-second Super Bowl ad has increased by an average of 11.1% each year.

So how did advertisers (and, let’s face it, their agencies) take advantage of the ultimate spot in prime time? Ladies & gentlemen, we humbly submit our musings.

Top Rankings

Audi “Commander”

Universally one of our (& many of our ad folks) top picks. In case you missed it: A former astronaut, surrounded by the artifacts of a well-played career, has slipped into the golden years only to find them less than golden. Let’s face it, tv dinners & sitcoms don’t share the excitement of re-entry. His son – and Audi – come to the rescue with the new 205-mph Audi R8 V10 plus & they blast off (speed limits be damned!), awakening an excitement the father has long since forgotten.

Notably, the “Starman” soundtrack & nod to David Bowie on the end card also struck a chord with many that are still grieving for “the original Starman.”

Interesting, to us, was the way that Audi dialed into a very personal reality for their audience. Is “the Commander” the person that is going to run out & snag himself the R8? No – it’s the son. The son – his generation – the ones who are dealing with the questions & fears around creating a worth-while existence for their aging parents. This spot connected the product’s incredible power & performance to something so emotional, so real for their audience. Definitely one of the best.

Taco Bell “Norton Furniture for Quesalupa”

Thankfully, we live in one of the five markets where Taco Bell aired localized commercials during the break just before the halftime show. The national spot for Taco Bell’s product launch of Quesalupa was nothing to write home about. Actually, it was a textbook Super Bowl spot. However, the local spots that Taco Bell created featuring “hometown heroes” were brilliant and hilarious. You can view the Cleveland version below and view all of the local spots here.

Notable Mentions

Paypal “New Money”

Our panel thought the strategy behind this campaign was well thought out & the spot itself was memorable.

Toyota Prius 4 “The Chase”

When a client tells you that they want product features dialed up in a big way – and several of them in the span of :30 seconds – it’s interesting to see how creativity can kick in to keep things entertaining, but effective for the audience. We thought Toyota did a nice job of merchandising key offerings of the Prius to current & maybe not-so-expected prospective drivers alike.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Twitter lit up with comments about this campaign & some questionable racial undertones (i.e. four white guys in car, nods to the OJ Simpson chase, etc.). Even several comments from celebrities hit the feed. There was, however, a follow up spot that had the police force chasing the thieves in Priuses of their own. Not sure if that appeases all of those who panned the spot, but worth mentioning.

NFL Super Bowl Babies

Football is family…this spot sets out to prove that in the most literal of ways. Equal parts cute & awkward. Point made.


One of the in-game spots this year that played off of former year’s “Spend time encouraging your kids” themes. We did like it – it didn’t crack the top 10 for us, but notable none-the-less.

Trends: Call & Response

These days, advertisers are in an ongoing conversation with the public. But sometimes they turn that conversation to other audiences for the sake of making a point crystal clear. This was definitely a trend at Superbowl 50.

Toyota Prius 4 “The Hunters”

For Prius, the conversation was with…themselves. Think of it as your sequel – thieves outdone!

Amazon Echo “Party”

As was the case with Amazon Echo. Baldwin at his baddest at night…

Amazon Echo “Morning After”

…and again the morning after.

Trends: Sharing

Taco Bell & Doritos weren’t the only advertisers who made the bold move to share their precious air time to make their case.

Intuit – Death Wish Coffee Company – Storm’s a-Brewin’

Quickbooks gives love to businesses that rely on them:

Trends: Junk Food Social Wars

Things got touchy on social media…




Gross. Harry’s wasn’t at the big game, but their recent efforts seem more suited to the target demo both advertisers covet.

Buick “Bouquet”

Okay, we – as members of your seeming target audience – are at the point of BEGGING. Buick, stop it. Just stop it. Our CEO’s first car (which she loved) was a hand-me-down Buick Regal from her father. She loved that car (early generation heated seats? #winning). You’re making her embarrassed to admit that fact with every painful moment of this campaign. Despite personal associations with the brand, we just have no idea what your strategy is. It’s not a Buick, oh yes it is, wow I’m surprised it’s not a hunk of garbage & unsexy as hell? THAT is supposed to have us rushing out to buy one???

You have nice products. Get that soft cloth out & take the tarnish off that brand before you do unrepairable damage.

Mountain Dew “Puppy Monkey Baby”

Random weirdness can be highly entertaining or completely disturbing. This spot falls into the latter category for us. Was it memorable? Sure. Did it resonate with their target demo? The jury is out – but from what we saw in the social sphere, doesn’t seem like it.

It’s a wrap! Which spots did it for you?! Would love to hear about it.

Until next year…