Top 5 Ads of Super Bowl 50

Professor of Marketing and Ethics and advertising expert Mark Johnston picks the best ads of Super Bowl 50 and explains why they work.

When companies spend up to $5 million for an ad placement during the Super Bowl, everyone expects the wow factor. This year’s mix was certainly memorable with everything from celebrities like Anthony Hopkins to adorable “hot dogs” and the creepy #puppymonkeybaby. But which ads really work?

Today, Professor of Marketing and Ethics Mark Johnston is discussing the best and the worst Super Bowl 50 ads with his Market Planning and Decision Making class in the Crummer Graduate School of Business. Johnston’s top picks for discussion include:

1. T-Mobile “Restricted Billing”

Why it works: “It’s funny and makes an important point for T-Mobile about hidden charges and other hassles of their competitors’ services.”


2. Hyundai “First Date”

Why it works: “They demonstrate an interesting feature of the car using humor and a premise that both parents and teenagers can relate to—a first date.”


3. Mini USA “Defy Labels”

Why it works: “It’s an in-your-face commercial about being different using cultural icons, and it fits Mini’s image perfectly. ‘This car doesn’t care what you call it.’ Exactly!”


4. Budweiser “#GiveADamn”

Why it works: “Helen Mirren has always been applauded for her brutal honesty. Here, she lays it on the line about drunk driving with her classy, British style. When you think about it, not many people can say, “You are a shortsighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution,” and get away with it.”


5. Toyota “Heck on Wheels”

Why it works: “An ad dedicated to a ‘crazy’ Prius driver who takes a humorous ride with the heck-on-wheels Prius.  The ad addresses stereotypes of the ‘typical’ Prius owner while highlighting the ‘edginess’ of owning a Prius, a challenge to be sure. Who ever knew a Prius could be so cool?”