Super Bowl Sunday. For some people, it is about the game. For me, it is about the commercials. As a marketing geek, I am always curious about the choices advertisers make regarding message and style. Do they go for the laugh or the heartstrings, do they go big and showy or subtle and stunning?

Regardless of the style they choose, every advertiser is hoping the ad will get noticed and be something people talk about long after the game ends. They hope it will strengthen the perception of the brand and ultimately drive sales. To do that, their creative teams have to deliver the right message for the audience, balancing the attention of the hard-core, beer drinking fan against the casual viewer.

It is a big investment as the cost for some of the ads exceeded $5 million this year. So, who won and who lost on Sunday? Everyone has their own opinions, but ultimately the success of a campaign will be in the eye of individual audience members. Here’s what one audience member (me) thought about this year’s crop of ads.

Budweiser – I Want to Stand By You

Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on communities across the country this year. Without being heavy-handed, Budweiser has found a way to tap into the Americans desire to help those in need and feel good about drinking beer.

I loved everything about this ad. The choice of music catches your attention as you see images of a brewery being transformed into a water-canning facility. The shot of the humble American worker having dinner with his wife helps you make a personal connection with the people behind the brand. And the powerful image of the trucks as they roll off to deliver cans of water to hurricane-affected areas makes you want to cheer for Budweiser, as they promise to stand by us.

There is a Coke For Everyone

This ad seamlessly melds a marketing message about the diverse types of sodas sold under the coke brand label with a social message of diversity and inclusion. The images of real people living and enjoying their lives, with a Coke product are knitted together by the words of Rebecca Wadlinger, a graduate of the University of Houston’s PhD program in poetry. This is pretty high brow stuff used to sell a carbonated beverage, but it worked. It held my attention and gave me the same hopeful feeling created by the 1972 Hilltop ad. A better world is possible, if we all just drink Coke.

I May Never Be Able to Eat Another Red M & M

Are they living or are they food? The cute candy mascots keep us wondering as we follow their adventures each year. This year we finally get to see them in human form and the look isn’t all that pretty. While Danny Devito is funny, I am not sure I will ever want to eat another red M&M. I don’t think that was the response Mars was looking for.

Who is Alexa?

While I was creeped out by the candy coming to life, I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of the alternative Alexa voices. There is something for everyone in this ad with a cross-section of celebrities including Rebel Wilson, Cardi B, Gordon Ramsey, and even Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Sorry Groupon, I Like Tiffany Haddish, But I Don’t Like You

As a consumer, I admit I have used a Groupon to buy products and services. But as a business advisor, I almost always discourage my clients from participating in a Groupon promotion.

Given what I know about the program, I find this commercial incredibly disingenuous as they claim to support local business. With few exceptions, the Groupon program is a financially disastrous deal for small business. They have to discount their service, and then give half the remaining sales price to Groupon. Sorry Groupon, no matter how funny and likable Tiffany Haddish is, I am not buying it!

Fire, Ice and Fun, Fun, Fun

There is so much to love about this ad I don’t even care that I don’t like either of the products. Taking a page from the popular Lip Sync Battle Pepsi pits two popular products (which actually go together) against each other in the ultimate Fire and Ice Battle.

Lip syncing is tough if you want to actually make it look like you are the one singing. This is especially true if the verses are fast or complicated. So part of the fun of this ad is just watching “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage lip-syncing Busta Rhymes’ “Look At Me Now” and Morgan Freeman lip-syncing Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.”

Add to that the attitude of the performers and the subtle effects make this my favorite commercial of the year.

What did you think of the Super Bowl Ads?

So those are my opinions.  What did you think? Which ad was your favorite?