Every year, Americans sit down to watch the big game and advertisers sit down to critique the advertisements accompanying it—both on TV and online. This year’s Super Bowl game turned out a little unexpectedly in terms of touchdowns and the ads we saw, but unfortunately not the winner (yes, we’re still a little bitter about the Chiefs not playing).

2019 Super Bowl Spots: Studs, Duds, and Unpopular Opinions

Surprise and delight are often the goals of a great Super Bowl spot and this year’s best ads were no exception to this formula for success. Here are a few of the spots that stood out above the rest to our DEGeniuses:

(Almost) everyone enjoyed Bud Light

“Bud Light captured more attention and buzz with the combined promo than they would have otherwise.” — Makenzi Smith, marketing manager

“The Bud Light and Game of Thrones crossover TV spot shows that as digital media continues to become a collaborative space for brands, traditional media is following suit by allowing seemingly unrelated brands to work together for their mutual benefit.” — Micah Fry, social media strategist

“For me, the Bud Light ‘Dilly Dilly’ spot that turned into a Game of Thrones promo was pretty great. It was total misdirection. These days it’s hard to be surprising, and this was.” — Tug McTighe, executive creative director

“It’s always interesting to watch brands in heavily saturated markets try to differentiate themselves, and Bud Light’s commercials this year were some of the best I’ve seen. They were on brand: fun, while still driving home the point that they don’t use corn syrup like their main competitors Miller Light and Coors Light. They had been running ads in advance that mentioned they only use water, barley, rice, and hops, and those messages built into the campaigns that ran Sunday night. That, in conjunction with featuring its ingredients on the beer labels, drives home the point. It was also interesting that Bud Light’s competitors didn’t place ads, so it was the only brand speaking.” — Travis McCan, senior relationship marketing strategist

“I’m confident I won’t be the only one talking about this one. The Game of Thrones and Bud Light ad was amazing. The things that made it work included the bold elements of surprise, unexpected partnership of brands, full story without revealing plot points of the upcoming Game of Thrones season, play on emotions of GoT fans, and the exciting dragon scene at the end. Killing an established pitchman is something that’s probably never been done before—especially during the Super Bowl. Bud Light captured more attention and buzz with the combined promo than they would have otherwise.” — Makenzi Smith, marketing manager

Targeted messaging helped some spots win

Microsoft: We All Win

“One of the most memorable spots of the night was Microsoft showcasing its new adaptive controller for people with unique needs. The ads were heartfelt and genuine, allowing those who use the controller to express themselves and their love of playing video games. It pulled at the audience’s emotions and drew you in with a good story that includes people you don’t often see in ads.” — Jordan Warren, marketing copywriter

“There were some solid ads throughout the night, but nothing powerful or weird enough to have a chance to stay in popular culture’s consciousness for years (shoutout to puppymonkeybaby).” — Kyle Davis, senior marketing communications specialist

Google: Job Search for Veterans

“Google’s targeted commercial for veterans was great. It targeted a specific audience and spoke directly to them using codes only they would understand. It showed that Google both understood vets and offered to help them landing their next career. Google also had a great ad featuring its translation capabilities, but the veteran ad really hit home.” — Travis McCan, senior relationship marketing strategist

Bumble: The Ball is in Her Court

“I participated in the 3% Conference Super Bowl Tweet Up and this spot by far won over the women on Twitter Sunday night. It’s unique in that it specifically targets females, stars a woman, and was created by a team made up mostly of women. The story of Serena Williams’ rise in tennis stands out, and so does the copy telling viewers to stop waiting because it’s polite to do so. Instead, it’s a call to make the first move using Bumble’s social platform for business (Bumble Bizz), life (Bumble BFF), and love (Bumble Date).” — Jordan Warren, marketing copywriter

Studs, duds, and unpopular opinions

There are so many spots that we broke up our DEGeniuses’ opinions into a second blog for you to hear commentary on some of the mixed reactions from Sunday night’s spots. We discuss the NFL, Amazon Alexa, Olay ads, just to name a few. Read the blog.

Honorable real-time mentions

We also gathered a few real-time reactions on social media that aired during and after the Super Bowl, engaging consumers on topics that occurred during the big game and the television spots. Read the blog.

Final thoughts

“General chatter holds this year’s Super Bowl spots to be mostly underwhelming, yet we know one thing: these ads capture attention from an expectation that precedes them, but cohesive activation across channels by several brands are what’s worth experiencing. We have to consider whether this reflects shifting media mix toward digital.” — Steven Nestor, senior account manager

2019 Super Bowl Spots: Honorable Real-Time Social Reactions

“Nothing about the Super Bowl—the game, commercials, and especially the halftime show—provided anything overly memorable. There were some solid ads throughout the night, but nothing powerful or weird enough to have a chance to stay in popular culture’s consciousness for years (shoutout to puppymonkeybaby). People will talk about the Game of Thrones-Bud Light crossover (it was the closest to hitting the memorable mark), football fans like myself enjoyed the NFL 100 spot, and I thought Google’s veteran job-search ad was well done. But as a collective? Good, not great.” — Kyle Davis, senior marketing communications specialist

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