Worst Ad Performances of SuperBowl 51

tmobileI tweeted the Superbowl commercials for my social media classes #SMM4RU and for Wharton Future of Advertising #WhartonFOA. I am glad that I did, as I might not have stayed for the fourth quarter heroics otherwise!

I rated the four worst commercials as:

  1. T-Mobile: 50 shades of stupid
  2. T-Mobile: 50 shades of stupid II
  3. KFC Gold: I didn’t understand the message and didn’t care
  4. Busch: When you swallow those bubbles they have to leave somewhere…

50 shades of gray wasn’t really that cool two years ago. And the SuperBowl is still family programming. What was it like to explain those ads to your 10-year-old? My takeaway: Verizon is DOMINANT and T-Mobile is desperate.

Maybe Busch should have teamed up with Fabrese….

There were two commercials that really attracted my attention,  but whose sponsor I cannot remember.

  • Who was the domain company for JohnMalkovich?
  • Who brought up the issue of 4 years of bad hair?

I appreciate the entertainment, but there may be a problem with an ad if I find it memorable but don’t know the sponsor.

Finally, who were the worst performers as companies? I argue that two stand out:

  1. Anheiser-Busch: by my reckoning with three expensive fails:
    1. Busch – passing wind;
    2. Spuds M. – back from the dead (eerie but not a zombie); and
    3. Roots – the guy who founded our company before his offspring ran it into the ground and sold to foreigners… came over from Europe (a current issue, get it)?
  2. T-Moble: We are being dominated but don’t like it. The Justin Bieber commercial seemed to appeal to some viewers, though.

Mark Schaefer posted an article that called the A-B Roots ad “pandering.” I had been considering it an ineffective example of newsjacking, but I think pandering works better.

How can major companies spend 8 (or 9?) figures sums on efforts like this?

I should note that there is certainly room for disagreement. ABC News declared that Budweiser and T-Mobile were among the winners of the Superbowl. The companies – and their ad agencies – pouring over the analytics will have the best sense of what worked.


So what do you think? Did I leave a deserving bad one out of this discussion??


Join the discussion on #WhartonFOA next year…


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