February 4th, 2014

Being a creative in the industry with an ad (or ads) in the Super Bowl has its similarities to being a NFL player. As a young creative, you work hard to perfect your talent, get recognized for your work and join a great team that makes it to the big game. You live and breathe commercials throughout the year and develop a unique point-of-view on what really delivers the goods on the big day. To take advantage of the unique perspective and valuable experience, we asked some of our top creatives across Mill offices to share their personal opinions on the coveted Super Bowl ad below:

The Mill LDN: Dan Williams

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1.  What makes a great Super Bowl Ad?

The top ads are the ones that blur the lines between entertainment and advertising. Spots that people instantly want to share on social media tend to entertain in their own right, going far beyond just selling a product. The VW 'Darth Vader' ad delivered this in spades. Just a great idea, simply executed. It was also very funny, which is often the winning Super Bowl ingredient.

For me Super Bowl is a uniquely American experience, so the best spots are the ones that get under the skin of the American psyche.

Budweiser always weighs in heavily on this angle. However, the 2011 Chrysler Eminem spot is perhaps the best example of this, showing a 'backs to the wall' Detroit coming out fighting. I know it hit a raw nerve with most Americans that I was hanging out with at the time. It was like a movie, it made you root for the underdog.

I'm very proud to say I was involved in one the of great Super Bowl spots of recent years with Coca-Cola "It's mine". That was a different kind of riff on what it is to be American. Set against the Macy's parade, it featured the iconic balloons of Charlie Brown and Stewie in a mid-air struggle for a Coke balloon. It was a perfect balance of whimsicality, charm and humour that really touched the hearts of the nation that year. It went on to win many accolades for us and the agency and was named AdWeeks' Super Bowl spot of the decade, which was pretty cool.

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2.  Are there any spots that really stand out this year? Why?

As a Brit I've got to say the Jaguar “Rendezvous” spot. But for sheer silliness, Audi’s “Doberhuahua” comes a close second....

 3.  How do you see Super Bowl Ads/Campaigns evolving?

It's such a huge event, that I just see the ads getting bigger and more sophisticated with each year. Still, the traditional way to watch Super Bowl is gathered round a giant TV with friends or in a bar, but maybe in years to come this may change, and the delivery and scope of the ads will change with them. So long as there's a great idea behind them, or they at least make you laugh, then we're all winners.....

The Mill NY: Rob Petrie

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1.  What makes a great Super Bowl Ad?

To me its still the ads that make you smile, grin or laugh. I always enjoy it if one has managed to make me smile while I have a beer in hand watching the game.

To tell a good story, let alone one with comedy, in 30 seconds is very tricky.


 2.  Are there any spots that really stand out this year? Why?

Two spots stood to me that are complete polar opposites. Radio Shack's “The Phone Call” was a funny spot with a simple message delivered in a fun way that tapped into 80's nostalgia. The Chrysler ad featuring Bob Dylan's voice worked like a charm  because his iconic voice gave the ad the all-American credibility that fit the spot's message.

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3.  How do you see Super Bowl Ads/Campaigns evolving?

I think we still need to bridge the gap between merely watching them on our TV and being a spectator to actually having some form of interaction with the commercial or brand itself in real time beyond just Twitter or Facebook. To me it’s still the holy grail of targeting individuals but on a mass scale. How can this be done? I’ll leave the guys at Google to work that one out.

The Mill LA: Paul Mitchell

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1. What makes a great Super Bowl Ad?

For me, it isn't how spectacular they are because everyone expects a spectacle; it's more about an honest message. I think the clever, humorous ads really resonate in a field where it's famously more base-level content.

2. Are there any spots that really stand out this year? Why?

I thought the Chevrolet Cancer Day commercial was very beautiful, simple, well shot piece of work which had a real and very human story at the heart of it.

 Maybe it's my age but, to me, the story in Chevy's "Life" meant something and, for that reason, stood out amongst the crowd.

On a lighter note, the Bud Light spot with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Don Cheadle was very funny and full of surprises. This was a well-executed, funny spot.

3. How do you see Super Bowl Ads/Campaigns evolving?

I think campaigns will need to live on outside of the 30 second slots. By bringing some kind of online component they could extend their shelf life dramatically. For the cost of the slot, the impact time needs to be maximized.

The Mill Chi: Bowe King 

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1. What makes a great Super Bowl Ad?

Being someone that works in "the industry", one of my favorite thing is seeing a Super Bowl Ad that surprises me. It can be something that was done before but remained or envisioned in a totally different way, or an idea that against all odds made it to air, but the biggest thing in making a Super Bowl ad is to surprise people. I know that a lot of people will argue that point and say that people want to reminisce and feel nostalgic and want what they expect, I think you can have most of that and still surprise though. Who would have thought that one of the most popular Super Bowl Ad campaigns would have been by a potato chip company that made a contest to direct a winning Ad; that right there is a wonderfully refreshing surprise, that such a left field idea like crowd sourcing for the most premiere media buy in the world actually works… sometimes, ha!

2. Are there any spots that really stand out this year? Why?

Spots that stand out for this year are the spots that have a lot of intelligent VFX and compositing but you don't see it.

I love a spot that you know must have a laborious amount of CG but you don't see a single bit. For that point, the Jaguar "Rendezvous" spot was fabulous, the final conform, grade and composite on that was superb.

The entire Budweiser camp is always great, this year was no different. I was on a plane home to Virginia recently and on the flight was a marine in uniform. We left the plane about the same time in this small town airport and walked to our respective loved ones at about the same moment. Part of my family was there to pick me up and I looked over and this marine's entire family and support network was there, with signs saying "welcome back", "you're our hero" and other touching messages. It was amazing to be right in that moment and see how much that meant to him and everyone around him. So Budweiser's "A Hero's Welcome" was really touching for me, well done and respectful.

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3. How do you see Super Bowl Ads/Campaigns evolving?

I think there is a constant evolution for Super Bowl Ad campaigns every year. They evolve and revolve. There tends to be a kind of yo-yo effect, because of this I think next year we will see a large amount of "blockbuster" type commercials. This year was fairly subdued on the "fireworks" and "bigger than life" kind of spots, a lot of natural looking and "honest" spots where you don't notice the VFX as much.

So next year I see the opposite happening with a lot of spots that really glue you to the TV and make your jaw drop at the intensity. One year you have a lot of people playing things safe and the next you have a lot of risks. I think it's a great thing, it leads to more surprises. For me, the second the game ends I'm already getting excited about the content that will come to life for next year's Big Game, its something that no one knows what will happen in the future right at that moment, like the moment right after the ball drops on New Years eve, confetti is falling everywhere, this is what you worked the whole year for and anything is possible!