This year’s Super Bowl was a doozy, wasn’t it?
Yet no matter how good the game is, advertising nerds like ourselves stay more focused when the game is on pause.
The biggest brands in the world and scrappy underdogs alike shell out seven figures (at least) to make us laugh, cry, applaud—and, in this day in age, share.
There were some pleasant surprises this year, and some unexpected themes that usurped old adages. The Seahawks may not have won, but it felt like a sea change for the gauntlet of Super Bowl commercials.
And since the Oscars are only three weeks away, it feels appropriate to hand out a few awards to the commercials that stuck with us.
Without further ado, here are the winners of Big’s #SuperBowl #Oscars:
Always – Run Like A Girl
This spot from Always encouraged us to “Rewrite the Rules,” and that’s exactly what they did themselves.
Female empowerment was one of the prevailing themes of this year’s commercials, and this spot stood out among the others with its reversal of what it means to do something “like a girl.” The use of young girls to show that sexism isn’t something we’re born with (or into) is incredibly effective.
These spots debuted online over the summer, but with the world watching on Sunday night, Always stole the show with an ad that we’ll—ahem—always remember.
Nationwide – Invisible Mindy Kaling
We’re big fans of Mindy Kaling. Our social strategist Kammie Kasten even got to ask her a question at SXSW last year. So this award was pretty easy to hand out.
Mindy is kind of the perfect face for the “invisible woman” concept Nationwide brought to the table here, from scarfing down ice cream to baring it all in a public park.
Nationwide’s other Super Bowl ad is quite—well—polarizing, let’s say. But this spot is easy to love.
Snickers – The Brady Bunch
We had to give this award out to two actors in the same commercial.
The presence of Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi together might’ve already made the best “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry” commercial yet from Snickers, but having them play two of the sisters from The Brady Bunch made this quite possibly the funniest ad of the night.
Let’s not kid ourselves—we’d support anything that involves a “Con Air” semi-reunion. But these two veteran actors really nail it.
Mophie – All-Powerless
One of the newcomers to the Super Bowl landscape was Mophie, maker of battery pack cases for smart phones. And they hit the ground running with the most visually stunning spot of the night.
Penguins flying. Fish falling from the sky. Hurricanes in Nebraska. Snow in Africa. Dogs walking humans. The whole thing is a beautiful collection of scenes illustrating the end of times—all because God forgot to charge his phone.
Best Original Screen Teleplay:
NASCAR on NBC: America, Start Your Engines
You might’ve missed this spot, as it aired right as the game was ending, but the U. S. of A.’s favorite son Nick Offerman delivers a poetic opus on one of America’s most American sports—one that no one else could’ve pulled off quite as well.
NBC’s self-promotional ads typically leave much to be desired, but give them credit for, well, putting the pedal to the metal and shelling out for this spot.
Best line that didn’t make the TV cut: “Sure, everybody in NASCAR gets a trophy. As long as they win the f*cking race.”
Best Adapted Screen Teleplay:
Carnival – Come Back To The Sea
Less than two years removed from being mired in controversy, Carnival took the first step toward reversing their misfortune with this spot.
The nautical visuals are simple, serene, and quite beautiful at times, but it’s the sound bite of John F. Kennedy linking the most basic qualities of human life to the oceans we’re surrounded by that seals the deal.
“We are tied to the ocean,” Kennedy says. “And when we go back to the sea…we are going back to whence we came.” Perfect clip for a cruise line.
Jeep – Beautiful Lands
Sure, The North Face might’ve used a (very) similar concept last year, and their Jim James version is better than this Marc Scibilia version.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” (though often misinterpreted [yes, perhaps by folks like Jeep]) is one of the most beautiful—and most American—songs ever written. Bruce Springsteen thinks so, at least, and he’s kind of an authority on that sort of thing.
It may be a rather conventional song choice, but it also happens to be the perfect choice for what Jeep set out to do. And they pull it off quite well.
Best Costume/Production Design:
Turbo Tax – Boston Tea Party
Turbo Tax has stepped up their branding game in recent years, and they didn’t skimp on production value in their Super Bowl spot this year.
The reimagined Boston Tea Party scene, both at sea and on land, looks like it cost a fortune. Sure, it might not’ve been the funniest spot of the evening, but it does a lot of things right, most notably the costumes and set designs.