By Alan Murray and David Meyer
February 4, 2019

Good morning.

A confession: I’m one of those misfits who watches the Super Bowl as much for the ads as for the football. That’s partly because I enjoy the great clash of creative talent competing to keep viewers in their seats during timeouts. Who can ever wipe from their brain the image of Betty White being tackled in a mud pit? (For a look at the best 25 Super Bowl ads of all time, check here.)

But I also like the ads because seeing who is willing to spend over $4 million for a 30-second spot says something broader about the state of business and the economy. Apple’s iconic 1984 ad signaled the beginning of an era. MicroStrategy’s 2000 ad signaled the end of another.

So what did we learn in last night’s contest? There was an excess of robots and voice assistants…but none rose above the rest. The robo-baby was creepy beyond belief; the advertiser can only hope no one remembers who they were, although I do. And Amazon’s Alexa ad made me want to unplug my Echo.

Top prize went to the NFL, whose 100th anniversary dinner turned into all-star melee. Given the league’s PR problems, they should get credit for creating such an uninhibited romp.

No. 2 was the Hyundai elevator commercial, starring Jason Bateman, which made me want to go out and buy one.

Best tug-on-your-heartstrings was a Google ad: “How are you?” “Thank you” and “I love you” are apparently the most translated phrases.

And best celebrity ad? Bubly’s ad with a confused Michael Buble.

Honorable mention goes to Expensify (Who knew an expense accounting app could compete for Super Bowl gold?); Bud Light, which teamed up with Game of Thrones for an epic ad series (but do Bud Light drinkers really care that their beer isn’t made with corn syrup?); and Serena Williams (although when the ad was over, I still didn’t know what Bumble was.).

And the worst of the night was Cure Insurance, with its screw-in-your-head—literally—ad. Watch it here.

By the way, New England won. More news below.

Alan Murray


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