Colgate Advocates for Water Conservation and Quicken Loans Plots Next Financial Crisis: Best and Worst of the 2016 Ad Bowl

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

The Super Bowl has brought sporting fans together from across the globe to cheer on their favorite teams for decades. But, let’s be real. The Super Bowl is really about one thing: the advertisements.

Unlike last year, which took an extremely serious tone, brands tried to find a middle ground between humor and seriousness that resulted in a dozen quality ads and a few that left us scratching our heads. After much debate, we have put together a list of our best and worst picks from the Ad Bowl 2016.


Toyota Prius

This great tongue-in-cheek spot played off of the (sometimes) true stereotypes that come with driving a Prius. The commercial chronicles the plight of four bank robbers whose getaway car was towed and instead of calling an Uber, they steal a Toyota Prius leaving a bag of cash for the owner. Quickly, a high-speed chase ensues in which people watching on TV are rooting for the Prius…because whoever thought a Prius could run fast enough to serve as a getaway car. While the ad was met with a fair amount of negative sentiments online, we think the story line was a good dose of self-awareness mixed with an absurd enough story that kept us laughing.

Eventually every actor considers selling out. However, Sir Anthony Hopkins would never impugn his integrity with something so crass as a product endorsement. Which is exactly what he isn’t doing by promoting…because it’s free so there is nothing to sell. Every time we hear the name TurboTax in the spot it gets a little funnier and a little more ridiculous. TurboTax brilliantly brought to life a simple brand idea that had fans raving. Taxes are never fun but this was definitely a fun commercial.


This year was Colgate’s first Super Bowl appearance and we have to commend the brand on spending its time committed to spreading the message of water conservation. The spot called for a simple enough action, turn the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth. This small step could save close to four gallon a day, which is more than some people in developing countries get in a week. The big win for this spot was that it was actionable and something everyone watching the game could do to make a difference.


Mountain Dew

While this year’s ad bowl may have been missing the cute factor (there was major decrease in the number of babies and puppies that made the big screen cut), Mountain Dew’s attempt at bringing it back was an epic fail. The slightly disturbing and extremely annoying Puppymonkeybaby left fans wondering what on earth the brand was even selling. Not to mention, Mountain Dew did not secure the Twitter handle Puppymonkeybaby prior to the release of the commercial and a number of fake accounts were created almost instantly. We hope that this annoying mascot will quickly be forgotten.

Astra Zeneca, Xifazan, Jublia

Constipation, diarrhea and toe fungus are the last things we want to think about while we are plowing through bowls of guacamole, cream cheese dips and platters of BBQ sandwiches. While potty humor has enormous potential to be funny, these brands completely missed the mark and instead went the way of talking intestines and fungus-infested toes. According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, all three of these spots were ranked among the five worst commercials of Super Bowl 50.

Quicken Loans

The Quicken Loans Super Bowl commercial began by asking, “Here’s what we were thinking: what if we did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music, and plane tickets and shoes?” The ad touted that people can get a mortgage on their phones, and asked: “If it could be that easy, wouldn’t more people buy homes?” Bad start. The commercial eerily promoted a lending environment that is similar to the years leading up to the financial crisis in 2008. Even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau voiced concerns over the ad and encouraged people to take time and evaluate their options when it comes to mortgages. While the intention may have been in the right place, the execution was unsettling and resulted in huge backlash among viewers.

For 364 days a year, we all fast-forward, mute and change the channel the second an ad fills the screen instead of Olivia Pope. However, there is something about the Super Bowl that makes us all marketing experts. Maybe it is because brands pay up to $5 million for thirty seconds of airtime that sets our standards so high. Regardless, we expect the best from big game advertisements and this year did not disappoint. Even though the NFL season may be over, the ad game is just start to ramp up for the year.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.