Viewer's Guide to 2015 Super Bowl Ads / by Lewis Lin


Tomorrow is the Super Bowl! For those of you watching the game, studies say that 78% of you will be looking forward to the ads. To increase your viewing pleasure, I've penned a Viewer's Guide to the 2015 Super Bowl Ads.

Read on to impress your friends and critique ads like a marketing guru. And for those of you with an upcoming marketing interview, you can use the examples below to answer that dreaded marketing interview question, “Tell me your favorite (or least favorite) TV ad.”

I have a six-point checklist for critiquing ads. But beer, guacamole, and friends can impair memory. To make it easy to remember, I've shortened it to three and paired it with a football theme, just for the big game:


The ad has to grab attention. The viewer is making a choice of whether they’re going to stick around or grab a beer. And if they've stuck around, is the ad memorable enough for them to think, discuss, and tweet with their friends?

Creative types tend to produce tear-jerking, Oscar-worthy ads. But this is the Super Bowl, not Sundance. The point of an ad is to pitch products. It has to provide the viewer an idea of what’s being promoted as well as a clear brand association.

Tablet commercials are my biggest pet peeve. All of them feel similar: inspirational soundtrack and images of a person using a tablet – filled with hope and potential. Heck would I know if it’s promoting an iPad, a Nexus, a Galaxy Tab, or Kindle Fire. Commercials that don’t clarify what’s been promoted won’t drive sales.

Lastly, the ad has to explain the product benefit AND produce evidence why they can back up that claim. It’s not enough to say that you've got an ad for Coca-Cola, Camry, or Charmin. An ad should tell consumers why they should choose their brand over the competition.

Take Volvo for example. You buy a Volvo because their cars are safer than others. They invented the seat belt and reinforce their car with the strongest steel possible. If you’re in the market for a safe, family car, it’s Volvo all the way.

I've scoured the web for 2015 Super Bowl commercials. Keep your eye out for these three ads:

Budweiser's Super Bowl ad commercial last year, "Puppy Love," was the champ with a whopping 56 million views on YouTube. For 2015, Budwesier decided to build on Puppy Love's success with its new ad, "Lost Dog," which features the familiar friendship story between a puppy and a Clydesdale.

"Lost Dog" will be just as popular as last year's ad, driving strong brand awareness. However, it's unlikely the ad will drive incremental sales as the connection between the ad and the beer product is too subtle and vague.

Lewis’ Scorecard 
Memorable: A- 
Oh! Product: F 
Benefit: D

View the Ad

Kim Kardashian pokes fun of herself, selfies, and public service announcement ads with T-Mobile's 2015 30 second spot on the Super Bowl.

The ad is unforgettable. And the product offering, T-Mobile's new Data Stash feature, and benefit is clear.

Lastly, T-Mobile's use of celebrity parody is particularly on-target, fitting the anti-establishment brand image that T-Mobile began in 2012 with its Uncarrier marketing campaign. Marketers take note: brand and message consistency matters!

Lewis’ Scorecard 
Memorable: B+ 
Oh! Product: B 
Benefit: A-

View the Ad

MOST EFFECTIVE SUPER BOWL AD OF 2015: WIX.COM’S "IT'S THAT EASY" is not a popular brand name. However, they win my award for most effective Super Bowl Ad of 2015. In the ad, the product is clearly defined: use to build a website. And's primary benefit, ease of use, is reinforced throughout. Lastly, the product's target audience is easily inferred: small business owners.'s ad masterfully uses several football celebrities, including Brett Favre and Terrell Owens, to enhance ad recall and to mitigate's obscure brand. And the players' retired status fits the entrepreneurial (life-after-football) narrative well.

Lewis’ Scorecard 
Memorable: A- 
Oh! Product: A 
Benefit: A

View the Ad

Enjoy the Super Bowl -- and keep an eye out for the ads,

Lewis C. Lin

PS One more thing: 2015 is the highest ever average price for 30 second Super Bowl ad at $4.5 million. Also, it's most new advertisers since 2000.