Super Bowl 50: Winners and losers

How was Super Bowl 50 for advertisers? Hyundai and Doritos dominated the USA Today Ad Meter, while medicinal brands grossed us out.

It’s the Monday after the Super Bowl and you know what that means: time to talk about the winners besides the Denver Broncos and Beyoncé, and the losers other than the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton.



Hyundai ran three ads, all of which placed in the top 10 for YouTube shares (“The Chase” came in first) as well as USA Today’s annual Ad Meter (“First Date” came in first).

Each ad focused on a different feature Hyundai boasts in a funny way, such as Kevin Hart lending his car to his daughter’s date and following them around via the car tracker on his watch. All in all, a successful Super Bowl for the Korean automaker.


“Ultrasound,” the winner of Doritos’ final Crash the Super Bowl contest, was one of the more controversial ads this year. Some social media users thought the punchline was too reminiscent of an abortion, though Amobee Brand Intelligence found the Twitter sentiment to be 47 percent positive.

In addition, “Ultrasound” was shared nearly 900,000 times, by far the most of any ad. Doritos also ran “Doritos Dogs,” its second-place ad; the two got the third and fourth spots on the Ad Meter (“Doritos Dogs” was right behind it).

Avocados From Mexico

With its clever tour of the Museum of Earthly Wonders, Avocados From Mexico was my favorite ad this year. And of all the advertisers, Avocados From Mexico got the most pre-game Twitter mentions, nearly all of them positive. In addition, #AvosInSpace was among the only branded hashtags to trend organically.

It was an impressive showing from a relatively-unknown brand. Avocados From Mexico took full advantage of the buzz, interacting with most of the other advertisers on social media and live-streaming its war room on Periscope.


“Commaneder” showed an old retired astronaut getting to relive his glory days by driving an R8. The brand message was strong and the David Bowie song in the background added a nice, timely twist.

The ad scored high on Ad Meter, but higher on Google traffic. It was the most searched brand after the game.

Death Wish Coffee

The company behind the self-proclaimed world’s strongest coffee may not have created the ad with the most Twitter mentions or YouTube views. But after winning QuickBooks’ Small Business Big Game contest, Death Wish Coffee’s Google searches and brand recognition increased tenfold.

Had you heard of it before this?


Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew was one of the most-mentioned ads during the Super Bowl, with #puppymonkeybaby trending on Twitter for the duration of the game. However, only 18 percent of those messages had a positive sentiment.

Many users found the ad to be the thing nightmares are made of. Mountain Dew was near the bottom of the Ad Meter, just about the lowest position of any major brand.

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Advil’s ad was nothing special, but it certainly wouldn’t merit a spot on the loser list on its own. Its fellow medicinal ads were weird and gross, like the yin and yang of discussing constipation at length and Xifaxan promoting its diarrhea medicine via an intestine running down the football field.

And just as you were like, “Well, at least there wasn’t a fungus-infencted toe this year?” Jublia returned. On Ad Meter, Xifaxan and Jublia took the last two spots on Ad Meter, much like last year for the latter. Perhaps the brand needs a better mascot than an infected toenail.

Michelob Ultra

“Breathe” was all about going the extra mile, and the ad had the look of an Under Armour or Gatorade campaign. It would have been fine if it was an Under Armour or Gatorade campaign, but for a beer ad, it didn’t make sense.

Michelob Ultra’s spot lacked the “Ew” factor of the previous ads, but the brand still generated mockery from the Washington Post, among others, for “trying to convince us beer is a sports drink.”

Persil ProClean

Persil may be the top-rated detergent in America, but we can’t say the same about their Super Bowl ad. It was boring and consisted entirely of a man telling us that it’s better than Tide. It also had the lowest Ad Meter score of any brand that didn’t mention fungus or diarrhea.

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