The 2013 Super Bowl ads were not an impressive group. I was looking for commercials that were memorable, liked, linked to a brand, and were likely to advance the brand proposition. The majority of the ads I saw didn’t qualify. However, here are six that caught my eye. The first four were among the five most popular ads, according to a USA Today survey taken just after the Super Bowl.


Last year, Chrysler hit a home run with its “Imported from Detroit” ad that supported a brand platform that led to a sharp increase in market share. This year, Chrysler’s Dodge Ram and Jeep each had two minute ads that provided an equally emotional experience with a more subtle message. The better of the two, in my view, was the Ram ad that had Paul Harvey narrating what it means to farm. Both reinforced the “Buy American” theme, but while farming and farmers is a good user image for the Ram brand, the “troops coming home” theme was less connected to Jeep.


Also tapping into emotional response was the Budweiser ad in which a Clydesdale is reunited with the man that trained him. The Clydesdales provide for Budweiser a symbol that is likable, masculine, and link to its heritage. It makes long-term sense to reinforce the symbol in a category in which any differentiation is difficult.


The Tide Miracle Stain ad featured a stain that was created in the image of Joe Montana, the famous 49ers quarterback of several decades ago. The fan was distraught when his wife used Tide’s Miracle Stain to make the stain vanish. The ad was humorous and made the relevance of the brand and its value proposition front and center.


Doritos succeeded again with two 30 second ads. The best, in my view, was a husky father enticed by his daughter to engage in a game of princess dress-up in order to get access to her Doritos. Soon, he was joined by his friends. His wife seeing the group, one dressed in her wedding dress, seemed resigned to such experiences. The ad was very funny but at the same time touching because of a daughter’s dress-up context. Importantly, it advanced the proposition that Doritos make a compelling snack.


The Best Buy ad featuring Amy Poehler, who asked a lot of questions and received good answers from patient Best Buy employees worked for me. The ad was humorous, involved a likeable celebrity, closely linked to the brand as it is set in a Best Buy store, and illustrated a key value proposition of Best Buy. Sales people customer support is a key wedge in their fight with the online competition.


I liked the Samsung two minute ad in which Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd were charged with identifying the “next big thing” for Samsung. The ad had a repartee that was very funny, there was a link to the brand with the use of a mythical person named “Sam Sung,” and the quest for the next big thing supported Samsung’s “Imagine the Possibilities” brand platform.

There are challenges in creating a Super Bowl ad that will justify the cost and break out of the clutter. Having said that, it was troubling to see so many ads that were not memorable, were not liked by the public, had weak links to the brand, or seemed to have no direct or indirect point.

“What was that all about?” was heard too frequently at the party I attended. In that context, it is nice to see some ads that appear to be well done.