Ratings for SuperBowl 2020 Ads

Group of people posing for a photo at the American Marketing Association’s Super Bowl Review Party


I attended the American Marketing Association’s 2020 Super Bowl Review Party on Thursday night to discuss the ads with other marketing professionals, students, and thought leaders! Below is a culmination of my thoughts with some influence from our discussion. On our panel, we had Mike Proulx (Hill Holliday), Sam Mullins (Arnold Worldwide), and Mark Philip (Digitas North America) give their ad insights. Some commercials blew us away, made us laugh out loud, made us emotional, and made us want to forget.

Under each review, I put two ratings:

  1. Personal Rating – How well I thought the commercial did from a viewer’s perspective. This takes into account of entertainment, feelings after the commercial was completed, and memory recall.
  2. Brand Recognition Rating – How well did these companies do with combining the entertainment factor with their brand recognition.

With both of these ratings, we need to remember that these commercials were MILLION DOLLAR decisions. With almost a billion viewers and one of the largest viewerships every year, what did these companies do to bring attention back to the brand? Watch the ads, read my reviews, and let me know what you think!

2020 Budweiser – Whassup (remake)

I found it extremely entertaining. Pulling off the nostalgia from the 1999 Whassap commercial added another layer in remembrance and enjoyment. For those who haven’t seen the original version, it’s still funny. It makes fun of how much “Smart” technology is in our households and plays a very creative take on an older popular idea.

Rating 4/5
Brand Recognition: 4/5

Planters – #RIPeanut

Pre-Game: To be extremely honest – I’ve heard about this commercial for a while but I’ve still had no interest in really watching it. When I did watch it, I just didn’t understand why they decided to take this turn. It didn’t make me want to get the products, it wasn’t extremely funny, and now I’m interested to see what they’re going to do with this “funeral” ad during the game. The reason I’m interested is not because of the commercials but because of the sad tragedy of Kobe Bryant and his daughter. It was extremely bad timing for Planters (not their fault) but the similarities between the real-life crash and commercial’s end are morbid and could create a lot of flak from their audiences. How they pull this off will be extremely interesting.

Rating 1/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Planters – #BabyNut

Post-Game: All I can say is #babynut. I didn’t think there was any way to kill off such a known character, but they just brought up a new version. The BabyNut was adorable, had a funny-sounding hashtag and was immediately trending. I don’t think it was a GREAT ad, I’m not sure that anyone saw it and said “Oh, now I want to go eat Planter’s peanuts”, but following the baby trend of Baby Yoda and Baby Gru (Despicable Me) was a smart play.

Post: Rating 3/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Bud Light Seltzer – #Postystore/bar

First off – I’m #Postystore (while the majority of AMA was #Postybar) but I laughed out loud for both of these commercials. The creativity in how similar but different the commercials were, combined with the multi-platform engagement, was brilliant. They executed it well and created a competition to see which commercial would be played during the Super Bowl. Both utilized a well-known artist, Post Malone, acting ridiculous as his senses controlled him to react to the Bud Light Seltzer. For me – I look at these commercials for enjoyment and they achieved that. This is a commercial I will remember and talk about in the future.

An interesting discussion during the AMA event was the use of celebrities in commercials. There’s a positive and a negative to using famous people that can make or break the success of the ad. In this instance, the ad is focused around Post Malone and Bud Light Seltzer.

On the positive, the commercial is energetic, it’s funny, and Post Malone brings in a lot of attention that people will remember. Bud Light was also able to make a great Twitter campaign following the commercial for extended exposure by using #Postystore and #Postybar.

On the negative side, we have to ask, did the commercial do well enough to bring out the BUD LIGHT SELTZER name? Everyone is going to remember that it was a drink and that Post Malone was acting ridiculous and hilarious after tasting that drink. Could it have been for White Claw, Truly, or Spiked Seltzer? After watching it a few times, I will say I do think they did a good job making the differentiation when you listen to the words. When I watched it once, I was unsure.

Rating: 4.5/5
Brand Recognition: 3/5

Budweiser – Typical Americans

A typical Budweiser commercial. This ad did a great job sticking to Budweiser’s brand and using a similar formula to any other Budweiser commercial you’ve ever seen. It’s filled with patriotism, success, handwork, and diversity, and the cinematography was beautiful. This is an extremely average commercial and it fills its purpose of keeping Budweiser in the front of your mind while watching football.

In our AMA discussion, we emphasized the challenges that Budweiser is having with craft beers at the moment. Everybody wants to go to the craft breweries and support small businesses. Anheuser-Busch needs to stay relevant, relate to a huge population, and keep producing at higher levels to combat this. By targeting a diverse population like the Super Bowl, especially when the audience is a few million people of no specific race, gender, religion, or career type – they were smart to target “Americans” which is the successful formula they’ve used for years.

Rating: 3/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Hyundai – “Smaht Pahk”

Now, I’m definitely biased here as a Bostonian but I loved this commercial. Were the accents perfect? G-d no. Was it hysterical and something I will remember and laugh about when it’s brought up, yes. I think Hyundai was hoping for another Patriots win (weren’t we all??) and put all their chips in for a Boston-targeted ad campaign. I loved the commercial because it targeted my home but I’m not sure how well it fits with the rest of the 49 states.

In our conversation, the AMA group talked about the 344 script revisions needed to get to the one they used for this commercial. The commercial, made by a Boston-based firm, heard the name and immediately saw the connection to the Boston accent. If anything – people will have that memory recall when they hear “smart car” and immediately joke about “smaht cah”. We also brought up the “celebrities” discussion again- appreciating that they were all from Boston (be it from the suburbs), but still wondered if people would remember if it was from Hyundai or any other car company?

Rating: 4/5
Brand Recognition: 2/5

Doritos – Sam Elliot Monologue Teaser

There were laughs from all parts of the crowd on this teaser. Using Sam Elliot quietly going over the words from Old Town Road was ridiculously funny and well-played for purposes of entertainment. It was quick, engaging, and left you wanting more.

Rating: 4/5
Brand Recognition: 3.5/5

Doritos – Sam Elliot / Lil Nas X Commercial

I was extremely excited going into the ad and confused about how I felt afterward. The dancing was good, Sam Elliot’s mustache move was hysterical, and then the rest was… okay. Again we discussed the advantages of using celebrities in ads and this was not the worst one (that’s to come later in the blog…) but for the excitement the teaser built, I left the commercial bummed, which was almost worse than coming in without expectations.

Rating: 2.5/5
Brand Recognition: 3.5/5

Amazon Alexa – Portia and Ellen

I wasn’t a big fan of these commercials at all and I’m a big fan of Ellen Degeneres. There were a bunch of similar commercials that they made all asking, “what did we do before Alexa”. They’re cute and I think they did a great job of using a celebrity and keeping the product name known.

Rating: 1.5/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Cheetos – MC Hammer

This was one of my all-time favorite commercials for Super Bowl 2020. Cheetos did a GREAT job using a celebrity and tying into “Can’t Touch This” because of your orange dusted fingers. Both the teaser and the actual commercial were well thought through, had great brand recognition, and had that spark of comedy to make the audience remember.

Rating: 5/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Google – Loretta

Wow. You always know there’s going to be one commercial that pulls your heartstrings and Google… you did it. The brand recognition was incredible, the emotions were overpowering, the graphics and the story were enrapturing. I have nothing negative to say. I was extremely interested to see how this was going to fit in between other commercials in the Super Bowl since the emotion displayed was unlike any others. In the end, it played with people’s emotions. Between two funny commercials, Loretta was a change of pace and stuck out in the grand scheme of all commercials for the 2020 game.

Rating: 5/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Genesis – Going Away Party

This was one of my least favorite commercials of the whole 2020 set. I was entertained by Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, but that was it. This was the crux where the whole group discussion hit its peak on, “celebrities utilized in the wrong way”. We noted a commercial of the famous duo hosting a party, crashing the party, and leaving the party in a car. If I didn’t write the name Genesis in my notes before writing this blog, I would never have remembered it.

Rating: 2/5
Brand Recognition: 0.5/5

Microsoft – Katie Sowers – Be The One

YES, Microsoft, yes. This will also be one of the top commercials of the 2020 Super Bowl. They were raw, focused on Katie’s story, and did it in the traditional Microsoft way. They had the logo and the text that they always use throughout but never made it about them. That brand recognition was available, but they did it without taking away from the message that they were giving. The music was right, the story was real, and it gave a great message. Big kudos to Microsoft and Katie Sowers for this one!

Rating: 5/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Walmart – Famous Visitors

I was extremely underwhelmed with Walmart’s commercial. It utilized the ideas of many of our favorite sci-fi classics to portray how their services are, “out of this world”. My disappointment comes from the fact that they already did this before. They changed some of the characters, but they literally took the exact same idea and just reproduced an already okay commercial. I see how the idea works, I could see how they thought it was clever but the fact that it’s already been done without some add on or big change will make it a forgotten ad in a crowd of new creative ideas.

Rating: 1/5
Brand Recognition: 5/5

Michelob – Jimmy Works Out

I loved this commercial. I’m a big fan of Jimmy Fallon and John Cena and the brand recognition was on point. Michelob placed their logos appropriately throughout the ad and allowed for the comedy to take you for a ride. This was a great example of how to use celebrities and still get your product across.

Rating: 4/5
Brand Recognition: 4/5

Related Topics:

Shannon Mulaire, Director, PR & Media Relations at Nickerson
Celebrating Excellence: Shannon Mulaire Honored as PRNEWS Top Woman
Molly Silvia and Shannon Mulaire at an event in Boston
The Top 6 PR Trends Shaping the Industry in 2024
Navigating AI and Sustainability: Takeaways from CREtech New York