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Super Bowl LI Commercials: Winners and Losers

Which Super Bowl LI commercials were touchdowns and which were fumbles?

Doug Simon, President & CEO of D S Simon Media analyzes the best and worst 2017 Super Bowl commercials to find what ads were successful and what ads missed the mark. Doug also offered his expert analysis on New York’s WPIX this morning.

Doug’s VlogViews Winners and Losers


  • The Honda ad was targeted very well by appealing to both younger and older generations, voicing a positive message to parents that your kid is going to be a success and achieve all they can.
  • Turbo Tax also appealed to widespread audience by showing how easy it is to do your taxes on any mobile device. They were able to create a comedic and memorable commercial that was unique to their brand.
  • Despite later controversy, Budweiser shared their founder’s immigration story which was an important message in today’s political climate.


  • Sprint was going for a comedic feel in their ad but ended up coming across as uncomfortable and brought nothing new to the table.
  • Snickers attempt at a live commercial was a good idea but unfortunately, it wasn’t executed well enough to be deemed successful. One aspect that worked well was getting Adam Driver exposure as we get closer to the premiere of “Girls.”



[00:00:00.06] The Super Bowl of marketing each year is the Supe Bowl. And this year the story wasn’t just about the ads but also about how they were promoted before the game even started. Hi, I’m Doug Simon of DS Simon Media with some of the picks and stories out of this year’s Super Bowl advertising campaigns.
[00:00:17.97] According to the New York Times, an average of $1 million dollars were spent by each advertiser just promoting the ad that had been created that was going to be played on Super Bowl Sunday. Estimates are more than 80 million people saw at least one Super Bowl ad before the game even started. Here are some of my favorites.

[00:00:38.39] [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

[00:00:38.64] When you start out, you might not know where you’re going.

[00:00:40.83] [END PLAYBACK]

[00:00:41.16] The Honda “Yearbook” ad was very smart because it was so well targeted. Clearly, they’re looking at an affluent crowd of college graduates thinking of a new car. So it has to appeal to the kids and the parents, my generation. Clearly, they did this by going back to the yearbook, some of the favorites that would resonate. But also that cross market to the younger population like Steve Carell is a great example.

[00:01:04.59] The message was, your kid is going to be a success and achieve all they can– a very positive message, very appealing to the parents that are probably going to help with the purchase.

[00:01:15.85] [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

[00:01:16.16] We did try and put you back together.

[00:01:18.36] That horse could have done a better job.

[00:01:21.25] [END PLAYBACK]

[00:01:21.57] TurboTax’s “Humpty Dumpty” ad– number two in watches before the game started, more than 15 million people had seen elements of the campaign. It directly related to what their product theme was. Hey, you can do your taxes on your mobile device. Again, it appeals to a wide-spread group within their target audience. It also included memorable if not wonderful images.

[00:01:47.75] [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

[00:01:48.09] Did you say something?

[00:01:49.78] TB, you’ve got to clean that shirt.

[00:01:51.81] Oh! I need a shirt.

[00:01:53.92] I know. You’re trending.

[00:01:55.98] [END PLAYBACK]

[00:01:56.35] Tide did a great job with its Terry Bradshaw ad actually integrating themselves into the game broadcast. You almost felt like it was a live spot even though it wasn’t, that Bradshaw was there on the set, a very interesting campaign. Also, points to the good job that Procter & Gamble did, created buzz with Mr. Clean and with the Febreze bathroom ad.

[00:02:18.45] Budweiser created controversy, surprisingly, with an advertisement about their founder’s immigrant story. There are some talk about boycotts online. But, interestingly, Budweiser also opened them to a larger audience. Among the advertising they did before the big game was playing the ad to viewers who watched Saturday Night Live highlights. Typically, those people are not huge fans of Donald Trump or the anti-immigration message.

[00:02:47.94] There were some big misses. I thought one of the biggest was the Sprint “Dad Fakes His Death” segment in front of his kids with the car. Just in the spirit of what you’re doing watching the game– I realize they’re trying to make an extreme point, felt they missed with it, was uncomfortable, uninteresting, brought nothing new to the table except a dramatic opening shot.

[00:03:08.94] [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

[00:03:09.32] [OLD WEST MUSIC]

[00:03:11.03] Jeremiah, time to snake you goodbye!

[00:03:14.79] I have 21-3.

[00:03:15.98] [END PLAYBACK]

[00:03:16.26] Another miss was Snicker’s attempt at a live commercial. I give them credit for trying. It was initially hyped as the first ever. Of course, Schlitz had done it in 1982. And Publisher’s Clearinghouse had an eight-year run in the late 1990s and early 2000s with live Super Bowl spots during the post game. The problem with it was, as a viewer, you didn’t get the feel it was live. It was different. It was just sort of confusing.

[00:03:41.15] One thing it did do was get Adam Driver’s name out there. Now, a key point– and this is a big part of entertainment marketing these days– is, by having stars of your show get out there, be part of promotions, part of advertising, it actually creates a benefit. I think Girls, with its premiere this week, got a little bit of a windfall from Adam Driver being promoted on the Super Bowl broadcast. And that’s it for now.