The Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials of 2016

February 8, 2016

Aside from being an exciting night for Denver Broncos fans, Super Bowl 50 didn’t exactly provide viewers with much entertainment on the field. In fact, the 63 commercials that aired nationally during the big event may have generated more online conversation than the game. But the impact of this year’s ads can’t be attributed solely to some sloppy play on the gridiron. After all, many brands now hype their ads with the same gusto as the NFL’s pregame festivities.

For instance, the top five places in USA Today’s Ad Meter poll all went to spots that hit the Internet at least a week before kickoff. The big winner from that batch seems to be Hyundai, which took first place with this commercial starring Kevin Hart as an overbearing father tracking his daughter on a first date. The car company also landed in fifth place with their “Ryanville” spot about a town whose entire male population looks like Ryan Reynolds. Hyundai wasn’t the only brand with two ads in the top five, though: Doritos took three and four with their surreal “Ultrasound” and “Doritos Dogs” commercials. Finally, the number two spot went to Heinz for a similarly strange dog-centric ad, “Wiener Stampede.”

While the humor and striking visuals of these ads make them obvious standouts, their early release certainly played a part in their success as well. Hyundai’s “First Date” ad racked up millions of views on YouTube in the week leading up to the game. Meanwhile, Doritos posted their potential spots months ago and encouraged customers to vote for their favorites. Just as in years past, the nacho chip’s fans dutifully obliged and pushed the brand towards the top of the heap once again. Still, an early release doesn’t guarantee that an ad will go over well. The website Squarespace landed in the bottom five for their confusing “Successes” spot despite the involvement of popular comedians Key & Peele. The rest of worst largely fell to an assortment of pharmaceutical commercials, including this unsettling one featuring a strutting, smiling intestinal track. In the end, the ad may have hit too close to home for football fans who were already anticipating abdominal pain following an evening of chicken wings and beer.



  1. How do companies benefit from releasing their Super Bowl commercials before the game? Does it create early excitement and momentum around a product, or does it just ruin the surprise?
  1. Do you think pharmaceutical advertisements are effective?


Source: “2016 Ad Meter Results,” USA Today, February 8, 2016Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture.