Event Recap: 5th Annual Ad Bowl

February 09, 2017

Panelists from major advertising companies in the Twin Cities shared their expertise about the best and worst ads of this year’s big game during the AMA Minnesota 5th Annual Ad Bowl at Carmichael Lynch on February 6. Panelists included:

The big game is a place for emotion and laughter, and some advertisers took some risk to get there. With over 100 million viewers, they tapped into the diversity of the audience and tackled many themes – political and social issues, hope and inspiration and, of course, humor. The panelists live and breathe advertising every day. Here’s what they thought of some of the ads.  

Lumber 84

  • Lumber 84 saw an opportunity and took a risk to tap into the current political issue of “the wall”. Even after the network wouldn’t allow them to run the full ad, they directed viewers to the company website to see the conclusion and hoped they would go there.
  • Their website crashed. It was the most talked about commercial from media coverage and a social perspective with over 1 billion impressions.
  • It was a brand that many people had never heard of and their brand is being remembered.
  • It was powerful, tasteful, and it made viewers feel something and challenged them to think in a different way.


  • Keeping with the immigration theme, the Budweiser spot was the most viewed ad of the big game this year. It did its job, but it wasn’t very original or sincere compared to the Lumber 84 spot.
  • Waiting until the third quarter to run the ad, after the audience had already seen every type of ad, wasn’t very good placement.
  • It wasn’t a party friendly spot. Viewers had to pay attention to get the story.


  • Audi also chose a timely social topic of equal pay and gender equality. The concept was good but it wasn’t authentic as it was soon revealed through social channels that Audi isn’t living out what they claimed in their ad.
  • The most important thing in advertising is that you have to be honest and be able to back up what you’re saying. Don’t just tell they audience what they want
    to hear.
  • It could’ve been a stronger spot had they honestly reflected where the company is today and highlighted their commitment to progress. For example, the end tag could’ve been something like “Our commitment to equal pay starts today.”

Mr. Clean

  • It was a refreshing and funny ad after the heavy stuff.
  • Risky and sexy for a consumer packaged good (CPG) ad. It can be really hard to bring back an old ad icon or character but they managed to contemporize
    Mr. Clean.
  • Check out Mr. Clean’s twitter account – you’ll find some interesting content!

Avocados of Mexico

  • They decided to stick with the funny approach, even though they had opportunity to go more political, and that wasn’t a bad choice.
  • Food advertising is tough, let alone making it funny. A solid B+
  • The longer version of the ad was best because the viewers got enough of the context to laugh along with it.
  • One panelist was wondering – how many avocados would you need to sell to pay for an ad during the big game?

It’s a 10 Hair Care

  • They took a boring product (with no new technology), and a name that nobody knew and got people to think about their product. But will it be remembered?
  • The spot had more social context than first met the eye with their quick “four years of bad hair” line and many diverse hair types.
  • It was well produced with good art direction, a nice black and white palette, and beautiful shots.


  • We have to give them some credit. They took a chance with the first ever live commercial but it wasn’t well executed.
  • The quick mention of the game’s current score was the only indication that it was live. And viewers didn’t care that it was live as there was no compelling story. The story was confusing – were they messing up their lines as part of a script?
  • They didn’t capitalize on the live aspect. More could’ve been done to build up anticipation so people couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen in the live commercial.


  • It’s easy to giggle at babies with mustaches. It was cute but could’ve been advertising anything.
  • Some babies could be “recognized” as famous football players to add an insider treat if viewers knew who the players were.
  • It was safe, charming and provided a good laugh, but it had no impact as it was forgotten10 minutes later.


  • Put Christopher Walkin on screen sitting next to Justin Timberlake and the viewers will laugh.
  • That’s the easiest money Justin Timberlake has ever made.
  • It was a funny and light hearted tie to ‘N SYNC’s song “Bye, Bye, Bye”. Now a lot of people know how to pronounce the brand “Bai”.

The overall consensus – it was nice to see a few ads push the envelope and step into controversy with taste. From start to finish it was a good game, halftime show, and ad showing.  Next year it will be even better – in Minneapolis!