Favorite Big Game Commercials Toyota Prius
Toyota, "The Longest Chase"

Who Won the Big Game of Ads?

Alumni and students from Booth's Kilts Center for Marketing choose their favorite Big Game commercials.

If published reports are to be believed, it cost advertisers some $5 million for a 30-second commercial to run during the Denver Broncos' 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Viewers were treated to cameos by Alec Baldwin, Helen Mirren, avocado-loving aliens, and something called a "Puppy Monkey Baby." But which brands got their money’s worth?

Chicago Booth Magazine partnered with the Kilts Center for Marketing to invite students and alumni to share their perspectives on which advertisers scored a touchdown with their Big Game commercial.

Heather A. Hellmuth, Full-Time MBA student

Heather Hellmuth came to Booth with a background in language and for-profit education with the goal of transitioning into brand management in the CPG space. She's passionate about consumer psychology, volunteers with Giving Something Back, and is a long-time football fan.

And Heather's Winner Is: Quicken Loans #RocketMortgage

Heather's Take: Every year, the excitement for The Big Game is equal to the anticipation of the creative genius of the commercial breaks, and this year didn’t disappoint. Companies pulled out all the stops; from capitalizing on Helen Mirren’s star power and sarcasm to scold drunk driving (Budweiser), to making a tribute to great campaigns of years past (Wix & Kung Fu Panda). Even David Bowie is remembered in an Audi commercial that pulls at viewers’ heartstrings. But nothing trumps the feeling of patriotism that Quicken Loans’ commercial (surprisingly) evokes. It leads the audience through the ripple effect of what one-touch home mortgage shopping means for the greater economy and finishes with the line, “And isn’t that the power of America itself?” On a day that most Americans agree should be declared a national holiday, nothing feels as good as a reminder of what it means to be American.

Watch the Ad:

Igor German, Full-Time MBA student

Igor German was a high school English teacher before coming to Booth, first as part of Teach For America in Dallas, then for two years at the Noble Network in Chicago. A perennial storyteller, he's thrilled by the marriage of analytics and creativity in Chicago Booth's Marketing community.

And Igor's Winner Is: Budweiser, "Not Backing Down"

Igor's Take:
For the second year in a row, Budweiser has made it clear that it is not bending to the craft beer revolution. In a commercial that is as powerful as it is elegant, the famous Clydesdale horses offer a certain cadence to the 30-second spot. Absent of any dialogue, the ad relies on simple messaging to position itself as a contrarian’s beer (“Not a hobby”; “Not small”). Without a doubt, there are those who will declare the ad desperate. But the line between desperation and dedication is thin, and Budweiser’s claim is that they’ve only ever been on one side of that line: “Not Backing Down Since 1876.”

Watch the Ad:

Julie Ginsberg, ’15

Julie Ginsberg is an associate marketing manager at PepsiCo, currently working on the Kroger shopper marketing team. Julie graduated from Booth with concentrations in Marketing Strategy, Economics, and Strategic Management, and served as co-chair of the Marketing Group. 

And Julie's Winner Is: Doritos, "Ultrasound"

Julie's Take: Biased though I am, as someone who works 100 feet from the Doritos team, I do think "Ultrasound" nailed it. In the last edition of Crash the Super Bowl, Doritos managed to solve a dilemma the brand consistently has: whether to market to 18-year-olds or the moms who buy them snacks. "Ultrasound" was funny to both. Admittedly, I cringed in the final sequence, but the mother of three next to me was cracking up, and I imagine the young male demographic appreciated the crass humor. The ad was perfectly on brand—what’s bolder than using the world’s largest stage to show a spontaneous Doritos-induced birth? And unlike many Super Bowl ads, the product itself was front and center.

Watch the Ad:

Erick Laseca, Evening MBA student

Erick Laseca has spent the last ten years in consumer marketing, leading some of America’s most iconic brands across Kraft-Heinz, Allstate Insurance and SC Johnson. With experience on both the marketing strategy and general management of a portfolio of brands, Erick has worked extensively with the creative agencies that make ads, as well as the corporate decision-making process that goes into buying them.

And Erick's Winner Is: Prius, "The Longest Chase"

Erick's Take:
The Prius “Chase” ad stole the Super Bowl! The spot had it all—it was witty, memorable, controversial and engaging—and did all this while keeping the Prius brand wonderfully woven into the plot. The spot aligns with the Prius brand promise of providing head-turning fuel economy, while introducing the new model’s heart-pounding performance. The Prius ad accomplished the one thing other spots failed to do, and that was to promote brand recall, which advertisers consider as the attribute that translates most closely to sales. Car buyers might forget that Hyundai features Car Finder, which helps owners track their daughters on first dates, but Prius has cemented its strong ties to efficiency and performance in the mind of consumers thanks to this spot. After all the hype, that's the one thing that matters most.

Watch the Ad:

Jake Toplitt, Evening MBA student

Jake Toplitt is a student in the Evening MBA program and co-chair of the Booth Marketing Club. Prior to Booth, he spent 7 1/2 years at Edelman creating and executing strategic sports PR campaigns for clients with sponsorships in the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, the NCAA, and golf.

And Jake's Winner Is: Prius, "The Longest Chase"

Jake's Take:
I thought the Prius "The Longest Chase" ad (Editor's note: shown above) was the best ad. Using humor to stand out in a way that justifies the $5-million-for-30-seconds price tag requires a type of extremeness that corporations generally aren't comfortable with. Breaking through by using scale above and beyond what you'd expect in a normal commercial is more attainable, and that's what Toyota managed to do. The premise of bank robbers using a Prius to avoid police on a never-ending chase is simple enough to feel authentic, and expanding it to imagine the type of global pop culture explosion that might ensue gives it the length and scope to feel "big enough" to be a Super Bowl ad. It also is fundamentally self-aware, playing off the notion that most people don't think of a Prius as performance car while trying to slightly shift that perception. The follow-up commercial (Editor's note: shown below) that aired immediately following the game where the police try to customize their own Prius was a good extension.

Watch the Ad:


About the Kilts Center for Marketing: Marketing at Booth focuses on building the skill sets needed to successfully lead in today’s increasingly complex and data-driven markets. We believe in deep questioning, intellectual curiosity, and a mastery of business fundamentals. We apply these hallmarks of Booth education to build a unique brand of marketing leader who excels working cross-functionally and collaboratively, while drawing insights from big data to take decisive action.