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Super Bowl Ads: The Good, the Weird, and the Ugly

Budweiser’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial “Puppy Love”
Budweiser’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial “Puppy Love”Photograph by Anheuser-Busch via AP Photo

Each year, the Super Bowl becomes the showplace for ads trying to outdo one another in creative genius and marketing prowess. And each year there are winners that manage to strike the right balance between creativity and marketing, there are losers that fail to strike a chord with the audience, and there are ads that are completely puzzling to the rest of us. This year was no exception: Some ads were good, some bad, and some—just plain weird.

The Good: Several factors make Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” a great commercial. First, it has a narrative that’s easy to understand (something that cannot be said about many other Super Bowl ads) and is engaging, an effect achieved by featuring a love story between a cute puppy and a majestic Clydesdale (by the way, using animals in ads to evoke emotions is a time-tested advertising trick). It’s masterfully executed, maintaining the right balance between creativity and message (a comment that cannot be made about many Super Bowl ads), while Passenger’s Let Her Go unites the imagery and the narrative.