Super Bowl Ad Power Rankings: Anheuser-Busch Jumps In With Powerful Immigrant Statement

  • Rick Chandler

The Super Bowl commercials are tumbling into our email account now, and we have enough to rank the best ones. We’re trying to include only full or extended spots, but in some cases a short teaser trailer will suffice if the ad is interesting enough. Spoiler alert, if you’re the type who only watches the game because of the commercials. But really, some of these are already on TV.

1. Budweiser: “Born The Hard Way” (Teaser)

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Whether by design or coincidence, Anheuser-Busch is about to roll out a one-minute Super Bowl ad that’s about as topical as they come. Its creators are actually calling it a period piece, as it recounts the immigrant story of August Busch, who arrived in St. Louis from Hamburg, Germany, in 1857 and built a brewing empire.

So with the current Muslim immigrant ban, the spot couldn’t be more relevant, and, A-B hopes, more likely to touch a nerve.

Budweiser revenues over the third quarter are down by mid-single digits, according to AdWeek, and its market share is down 20 percent. And per Budweiser’s own numbers, 44 percent of all Americans between the ages of 21 and 27 have never even tried a Budweiser.

The smart money right now is on craft beer, which as of 2013 was for the first time shipping more barrels than Budweiser. So InBev Anheuser-Busch, which owns Bud, is now tasked with rejuvenating the brand. But can one commercial campaign change a company’s fortunes that dramatically?

Advertising in the Super Bowl always helps. The 2014 Budweiser spot Puppy Love is the most-watched Super Bowl commercial of all time on YouTube, and the Clydesdales are the most recognized brand image.

Bud is spending a fortune on Born the Hard Way — an estimated $2 million in production costs, $5 million per 30 seconds, and an undisclosed amount for the exclusive alcohol advertising rights at the Super Bowl. That’s upward of $15 million, most likely, for the one-minute commercial. The teaser trailer is above.

2. Mercedes-Benz: “Easy Driver”

With films such as Fargo, Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brothers are nearly as iconic as Peter Fonda and the 1969 classic Easy Rider. Now the three come together for a Super Bowl commercial. The Coens wrote and directed this one, for Mercedes-Benz, their first since making a Super Bowl ad for H&R Block in 2002. AdWeek:

“Peter Fonda plays a critical piece of the storyline, and he’s known as someone who still epitomizes what it is to love driving performance and the open road,” said Drew Slaven, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA. “… The film [Easy Rider] component goes back 48 years. We thought there was a nice parallel that was set up between the era of that and what was, in 1967, the beginnings of AMG.”

3. Turbo Tax: “Humpty Fall”

TurboTax is back for the fourth consecutive year with a 45-second spot, starring Humpty Dumpty.

4. Skittles: “Romance”

The candy checks in with their new ad, and it’s an upgrade from last year’s bizarre Steven Tyler nightmare-inducer. “Katy! …”

5. Pepsi: “Party Poopers”

Joe Flacco tell you how to unpoop your Super Bowl party.

6. Ford: “Go Further”

The kid hanging by his shoe by the top of a chain-link fence is worth the price of admission here, at least for me, because I witnessed something like that in real life and it was hilarious.

7. Tide: “Gronk’s Cleaners Discount”

Tide is implying that there will be a Part II to this commercial when it appears on Sunday. I sure hope so. It will be nice to see Gronk during the game, and Jeffrey Tambor is always awesome. But the spot itself is rather mediocre.

8. Wendy’s: “Cold Storage”

Wendy’s is a little sensitive about the notion that their beef comes from frozen patties. Remember this?:

So now they’re advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in 40 years, where the world will finally realize that their beef is NOT FROZEN, DAMMIT!

9. Yellow Tail: “Kangaroo”

Wait, doesn’t Anheuser-Busch have exclusive rights to alcohol advertising at the Super Bowl? Well, yes. But Yellow Tail got around that by producing this regional ad, which will be seen in 80 percent of the country.

10. Mr. Clean: “Cleaner Of Your Dreams”

Believe it or not, Mr. Clean is coming up on his 60th anniversary next year. Making his debut in 1958, the Procter & Gamble cleaning product was invented by the owner of a shipping line who needed a non-toxic cleaning product that wouldn’t make his workers sick.

Mr. Clean immediately became the top-selling household cleaner on the market. Its mascot, the smiling genie-in-a-cleaning-bottle, has changed little in 59 years — in appearance, anyway. This year Procter & Gamble has introduced a new, sexy Mr. Clean, a detergent gigolo who just may seduce your wife if you’re not vigilant. In its Super Bowl debut, Procter & Gamble gives us the new Mr. Clean. I feel a little ill.

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Thanks to AdWeek, AdAge, USA Today, Super Bowl Ads, Forbes.