Favorite Super Bowl ad? 40 Charlotte marketing leaders make their picks

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We all now know that Tom Brady is the GOAT, but which advertiser won the big game?

Here are the top Super Bowl commercials according to Charlotte’s marketing leaders.

“Daughter” – Audi

Jennifer Appleby, President, Chief Creative Officer at Wray Ward
Why? I love that Audi chose to emotionally highlight their values and commitment to gender equality through a father’s eyes over just selling their latest model. Beautiful, surprising, smart and really connected with this mother of two daughters.

Peggy Brookhouse, President at LGA
Why? Beautifully tackled an important issue and elevated the brand in the process.

Mary Ellen Player, City Manager at Google Fiber
Why? Way to make 51% of the population actually care about a car brand.

Meg Seitz, Managing Creative Partner at Toth Shop
Why? Audi flipped the long-held belief that car commercials are for fathers and sons – they’re for dads and daughters, too.

Cordelia Anderson, Director of Marketing & Communications at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Why? Last year, my criteria for best ad included this one: “I have to remember what the product is.” Normally car commercials fail this test, but this year, I remembered. (And yes, I’m a marketing director, but I’m also a mother of two daughters.) It took flak for being too political, but politics were all over this Super Bowl.

Lisa Smith, Marketing Communications Manager at Tropical Foods
Why? The commercial was subtly political, yet authentic with a clear brand message of the action they are taking within their own company for equal pay.

Stephanie Flury, Marketing Director at EastCoast Entertainment
Why? Great example of how an authentic message paired with showcasing Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives can be a total home run.

Toby Hudson, Sales Director at Business Insider
Why? My wife saying “that makes me want to buy an Audi” – the ad delivered a strong and positive message. One which influenced brand preference – after all, isn’t that what ads are designed to do?


“Bai Bai” – Bai

Molly Carroll, Director of Marketing at Trinity Partners
Why? I’m sure I should say something more markety, quippy, and professional, but Justin Timberlake is my patronus, which means there’s really no other choice.

Jocelyn Ruark, Marketing Manager at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
Why? While the commercial didn’t give much insight into what Bai is, it achieved marketing’s holy grail: brand recognition. Thanks to *NSYNC, everyone now knows how to pronounce Bai without confusion.

Julia Tarwater, VP Regional Marketing Director at Fifth Third Bank
Why? Christopher Walken’s dramatic recitation of *NSYNC lyrics and Justin Timberlake’s subsequent reaction – memorable spot for an up and coming brand!

Morgan Conroy, Director of Marketing at Bottle Cap Group
Why? Tagging the company name with a millienial song was very clever, I’ll be singing *NSYNC the next time I see Bai in stores. #baibaibai

Banks Wilson, President & Creative Director, UNION
Why? Watching Christopher Walken recite *NSYNC in his classic, serious tone and then looking over to see a skeptical Justin Timberlake sitting next to him on the couch was pretty funny. I just want to tell you that I’ve had enough. It might sound crazy but it ain’t no lie, baby Bai Bai Bai!


“Stain” – Tide

Lindsay Rothrock, Marketing & Media Manager at Hilliard Studio Method + HSM | Core
Why? Love the way they connected back to the live game with Terry Bradshaw and played off the same story line over a series of ads.

Tim Baier, Co-Founder at Spiracle Media
Why? I’m a little biased because my wife worked on this campaign, but the slow play with Terry Bradshaw’s stain tricked a lot of people and paid off shortly thereafter. Great execution!

Colby Anderson, Digital Marketing Manager at Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc.
Why? From using what appeared to be an in-game segment to create interest across the internet, to revisiting the concept in the second half, this ad was fun while keeping the focus on the purpose of the product.


“Hero’s Journey” – Kia

Daniel Bliley, VP Marketing at Passport, Inc.
Why? Leveraged a popular actress in hilarious scenes, ultimately connecting to a product attribute (environmentally friendly) of the car

Katy Rust, Marketing & Communications Specialist at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Why? I liked the way they showcased real-life issues in a light-hearted way and because…Melissa McCarthy.


“Yearbooks” – Honda

April Smith, Founder of Social Ape Marketing
Why? I love that this ad proves that celebrities were nerds in high school just like us all while sharing a funny and inspiring message.

Irina Toshkova, New Gallery of Modern Art
Why? Creative, funny and uplifting!


“#AvoSecrets” – Avocados from Mexico

Emilie Nicholls, Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Why? Humor done well!

Chris Halligan, COO at Payzer
Why? “Kyle, are you streaming this?” made me laugh.


“Unlimited Moves” – T-Mobile

Mark Smith, VP of Marketing at Charlotte Knights
Why? T-Mobile did a great job of appealing to all ages by featuring celebrities and their dance moves/touchdown dances for their unlimited data campaign. Asking viewers to submit their favorite dance moves via social media encouraged the audience to interact with the product in a fun and measurable way.

Heidi Cowley, VP of Marketing at CPI Security
Why? Good use of talent, cameo appearances.


“Bathroom Break” – Febreze

Jeff Smith, Brand Strategy Director at BuzzFeed
Why? Love the music choice for optimal build-up around the only humor that is foolproof – potty humor.

David Oakley, President & Creative Director at BooneOakley
Why? Best use EVER of an animated painting of a steamship behind a guy as he sits down on the toilet to, I suppose, release a steamy one. Very funny and on brand. Brilliant work.


“Born the Hard Way” – Budweiser

Debra Smul, Vice President of Marketing at Discovery Place
Why? Right message for the company at the right time.

Marty Kelso, Partner/Creative Director at Kelso Communications
Why? Seamlessly weaving storytelling and product placement, this spot made the epic feel personal and the concept of a free market economy seem downright romantic.


“John Malkovich” – Squarespace

Corri Smith, Owner of Black Wednesday
Why? The John Malkovich set is funny because in the digital space there’s potential for us all to be on the same playing field: trying to launch a brand when “your” domain is taken. It’s also ironic because John Malkovich would obviously NEVER use Squarespace to build a website (he’s got money for custom code), but the fact that he’s in this commercial makes him relatable to everyone else and would make the average Joe feel like he should have a website too.


“#weaccept” – AirBnB

Kelly McMurtrie, Creative Producer at Red Ventures
Why? Love the way they’re using their company values to take a stand. Simple, authentic, and really powerful without the fanfare.


“Romance” – Skittles

Matt Ferguson, SVP Managing Director & Brand Development at Eric Mower + Associates
Why? The Skittles spot shined by using the element of surprise to get a big laugh, building affection for the brand.


“The Journey Begins” – 84 Lumber

Jaime Cardenas, CEO at AC&M Group
Why? Great use of a current and controversial topic to drive brand awareness for a retailer that is in expansion mode.


“Inside These Lines” – NFL

Tyler Hawes, Partner at MODE.
Why? Emotionally gripping writing accompanied by great footage that captured the feel of the game and our cultural conversation.


“A Better Super Bowl” – Hyundai

Brandy Newton, Chief Brand Officer at JJs Red Hots
Why? I thought, for the most part, the attempt at emotional connections was overdone… until Hyundai actually spent their SB budget money on a real life connection between troops and their families.


“Bag of Unlimited” – T-Mobile

Blair Primis, VP of Marketing at OrthoCarolina
Why? Loved the play on their reputations and how it built up as the spot unfolded. Smart. Funny.


“Cleaner of Your Dreams” – Mr. Clean

MaryBeth Simon, Community Relations Manager, Bank of America
Why? My husband said he was going to start cleaning the house more… Airbnb was fantastic as well.


“Google Home” – Google

John Mader, VP Director of Connections at Wray Ward
Why? Google Home had me at the first three notes of Country Roads.


“Cam Newton” – Buick

Emma Rothstein, Senior Manager of Growth at DoorDash
Why? Because Cam Newton. And I still remembered it was about Buick.


“America the Beautiful” – Coca-Cola

Lauren Woodruff, Charlotte Market Manager at Bank of America
Why? Enough said. America is beautiful when everyone is included and accepted.


“Football is Over” – The Walking Dead Teaser, AMC

Teddy Shipley, Creative Director at Mythic
Why? Just a football, a baseball bat and a bunch of patience – simple wins again.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).