Madison+Main’s Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials

While Super Bowl XLV proved to be an exciting game for die-hard football fans, there was plenty of entertainment during this 4-hour televised segment for the rest of us. And we’re not just talking about Christina Aguilera’s National Anthem mishap or even The Black Eyed Peas’ futuristic, auto-tuned performance. We’re talking about the commercials. While some were more of a failure than the ill-fated half time show, several stood out to us as noteworthy contenders. Here are Madison+Main’s Top 10 Super Bowl commercials for 2011.

1. Volkswagen: Darth Vader

The most talked about spot this year was the cute and heart-warming Volkswagen ad where a pint-sized Darth Vader turns on his dad’s VW Passat using “The Force” and a little help from the keyless remote start. It resonated unanimously as Madison+Main’s favorite Super Bowl commercial. It’s humble. It’s genuine. And best of all, it clearly displays a product benefit. And that folks is Advertising 101.

2. Coca-Cola: Border

During perhaps the loudest spectator sport of the year, Coca-Cola chose to air a simple, dignified spot that tells the story of a complex relationship without using any dialog. For thirty seconds, Coke conveyed a message of “sharing happiness” in almost utter silence. However, we agree that their ingenious thinking speaks volumes. Someone deserves a metal. Or a Coca-Cola.

3. Chrysler 200: Detroit

Even if you’re not an Eminem fan, you can’t deny that this devout Detroit native was the right man for the job. His song, “Lose Yourself,” set the epic undertones to this moving piece of art. And, yes, we’re calling it art! With a running time of two minutes and its high quality cinematic value, this commercial looked more like a short-length film than an ad. It pays homage to both a great American brand and a great American city as it explores Detroit’s tumultuous past and shares an excitement for the future with the introduction of the Chrysler 200.

4. Doritos: Pug

Okay, so there might not be much thinking behind this Doritos spot. But everyone knows if you put a baby or puppy in your ad, your commercial will be adored by all. It’s hard not to fall for smooshed faces, pudgy cheeks and heavy snorts. Seriously, you could be selling asphalt and if you put a pug in your commercial, we’d probably be out paving our driveways the next day.

5. Audi: Release the Hounds

The car ads certainly hit a home run during this year’s Super Bowl. Or should we say, made a touchdown? Either way, Audi’s idea to “Escape the Confines of Old Luxury” seemed ironically fresh. Come on. An ad with a taxidermy Dodo bird, a pack of “hounds” and a Kenny G cameo, how can you forget this one?

6. Hyundai: Anachronistic City

Just as we were getting sick of Jeff Bridges’ voice, Hyundai redeemed itself towards the end of the game with this spot. With the use of old technology (tube TV sets, vinyl turntables and Zack Morris style cell phones), Hyundai gives us a visual anthology that answers the question, “what if we always settled for the first thing that came along?” It’s a straight forward idea, executed beautifully. Plus, we all secretly want that wiggle-waist-shaper-work-out contraption!

7. NFL: American TV Moments

In the most nostalgic ad of the night, TV sitcom characters from throughout the decades show their love of football in this ad montage, or to quote AdAge, “ad mashup, [as the kids are calling it these days.]” And did you know that the creators actually superimposed NFL gear on each of the characters in the spot? Impressive!

8. Mini Cooper: Cram It in the Boot

The suggestive innuendo in this spot is immense, which is probably why it’s one of Dave’s favorite spots. This faux-British game show encouraged a contestant to find large items he could “cram” into a tiny Mini Cooper, showcasing the car’s spacious interior. Pretty much on par with “That’s What She Said” jokes, you couldn’t help but laugh at this crazy commercial.

9. CareerBuilder.com: Chimps

All we have to say is: chimpanzees, suits, and a car sandwich. WIN! These fun-loving apes never get old.

10. Groupon: Save the Money

As the most controversial ad of the evening, you might be wondering why Groupon’s Save the Money campaign made it into our Top 10. The series of ads feature celebrities who appear to be fighting for a cause à la Sally Struthers and “Save the Children.” The disturbing twist comes when, in actuality, they’re telling you to “Save the Money.” It’s tasteless. It’s offensive. It’s all the buzz of online media. And that’s just it – people are talking about it. Like it or not, press is press. And whether Groupon intended this kind of reaction (after all, CP+B, an agency known for its daring ad style, produced the spot), they’re getting attention. We’re not saying we like these commercials, but an ad that stirs up debate is hard to ignore.


Agree? Disagree? Give us your two cents!