Super Bowl Ads: Fails and Flops

We remember all the great Super Bowl ads: Coca-Cola’s Mean Joe Green spot, Budweiser’s “Lost Dog”, Apple’s “1984”spot and many others. But what about the ads that didn’t hit the mark? The fails. The flops. Advertisers can learn just as much, if not more, from the failings of previous years’ ads—at least we hope they can. Here at Dialsmith, we’re underway with our Slidermetrix testing of this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads, and we’re already seeing some ads that aren’t making the splash their brands were hoping for. With four years of historical data from testing the Super Bowl ads under our belt, we decided to take a walk down the darker side and highlight the “low lights” from our Slidermetrix ratings from Super Bowl ad years past. Here were some stinkers worth noting:

Super Bowl Ads Fails Slidermetrix

2017 84 Lumber’sThe Journey Begins” (Mean score: 45 out of 100)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Political message
What didn’t work: You’ve got to hand it to 84 Lumber. Their first foray into the world of Big Game advertising was not a meek one. They went out to make a political statement during a very politically charged moment in time and they epically missed the mark with a majority of viewers. Some may have disagreed with the immigration-supportive message and others may have wanted to just forget about politics if only for a few hours.

2016 Squarespace’sReal Talk w/ Key & Peele” (Mean score: 40 out of 100)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Parodies
What didn’t work: Can you pull off a funny, engaging parody in 30 seconds? Based off this evidence, the answer is no. Additionally, we wondered if many viewers are really familiar enough with Key and Peele to recognize their schtick or even realize this was supposed to be a parody.

2015 T-Mobile’s “Kim’s Data Stash” (Mean score: 36 out of 100)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Celebrity
What didn’t work: Even though T-Mobile snagged Kim K herself, the ad was a snooze-fest. This ad took the honor of Slidermetrix’s all-time lowest score to date. Sorry Kim.

2015 Nationwide “Make Safe Happen” (Mean score: 43)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Do-gooder; shock value
What didn’t work: The PSA-style ad was aired at the wrong place and at the wrong time. The message was certainly an important one but no one wants to think about their kid dying while they’re partying it up with friends during the Super Bowl. File under “What were they thinking?”

2013 Calvin Klein’s “Concept” (Average rating: 43)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Vive la différence
What didn’t work: Well, it did stand out just not in a good way. Glistening buff guys in tighty whities have a limited appeal to a Super Bowl audience still mostly made up of nacho- and wing-eating dudes. The ladies gave the spot a mostly thumbs up but the guys just killed it.

2014 CarMax’s “Slow Clap” (Average rating: 47.2)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Humor
What didn’t work: Where to begin… well, almost no one got the joke and even those that did get the slow clap reference and the Rudy cameo, didn’t think it was all that funny. Not sure which was slower, the ad itself or the slow clapping.

2013 Wonderful Pistachios’ “Gangnam Style” (Average rating: 48)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Pop culture
What didn’t work: The pop phenom around the “Gangnam Style” video reached its peak a full seven months prior to this Super Bowl, and you can bet many viewers were already over the head-bob-inducing song by the time this ad aired. Is a stale concept something you really want to associate with your nuts?

2014 GoDaddy’s “Body Builder” (Average rating: 49.7)
Trend it tried to take advantage of: Humor; Danica-naticism
What didn’t work: Was this ad simply not shocking enough for a GoDaddy Super Bowl spot? Perhaps, but GoDaddy never goes for likeability with their ads so it’s no surprise that this one followed suit. To get to the punchline, viewers had to endure watching a gaggle of beefy body builders (including an extra beefy version of Danica Patrick) running amok through the streets. Dial testing results showed that most viewers weren’t so pumped about this one.

Which brands in this year’s Super Bowl have learned from these past sins and which will invent new ways to fail and flop? We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, if you haven’t had the chance to view and rate this year’s Super Bowl ads, head over to our Slidermetrix page and get to work. Then check back after the Big Game to hear our final results.

You can check out the results from last year’s Super Bowl ad ratings here