SALT LAKE CITY — Almost as popular as the Super Bowl itself are the commercials, and Salt Lake City marketers said this year's ads fell flat — just like the game.
"The commercials are a lot like the game, it's just kind of boring," said Tal Harry, CEO of Richter7, a Salt Lake City-based marketing agency.
The agency hosted its 24th annual Ad Bowl Monday, where participants judged the winners and losers of Super Bowl LIII's commercials and chose seven to receive awards, from Most Valuable Ad to Should Have Punted.
"Overall I would say the ads actually were not that great," said Chanel Cartier, art director at Richter7 and referee at the event. "I think last year there was a lot more exciting ads, a lot more noteworthy and tweetable and sharable ads. This year it felt a little bit slower, I think overall it kind of fell flat."
Participants watched 52 of the Super Bowl's official commercials and ranked each on a scale of 1 to 7 by holding up numbered signs and playfully shouting at the referees. After viewing all of the ads, they decided which ones would receive the awards.
Burger King's "#EatLikeAndy" commercial, which showed Andy Warhol eating a Whopper, received multiple ones and twos, as well a handful of boos, and was ultimately given the Should Have Punted award.
Hyundai's commercial won the Championship Chuckle award, and was the first commercial the group ranked at a perfect seven.
While many ads didn't make it into the final group of seven winners and losers, a few noteworthy spots still stood out for the group, like the Bud Light ads.
"The corn syrup one, they took a product differentiator and, I didn't particularly care for the ads, but I liked how they continued to come back and hammer on that 'no corn syrup in our product' message," Harry said.
Cartier said her favorite commercial was the Audi ad, "Cashew."
"It's one that stood out because it had a nice twist in it," she said.
The Washington Post's "Democracy Dies in Darkness" spot received a high ranking on the scale and was considered for the Best Low Budget award, but T-Mobile's ads showcasing a series of humorous text message exchanges took the title instead.
"I thought T-Mobile did a nice job, which is kind of building consistency through the campaign," Harry said.
He said that while a lot of people think the most visual ads are the best, he argued having a strong message and strong delivery can make ads stand out, like the Washington Post ad.
"You can't deliver any better than Tom Hanks," he said. "I thought it was a really timely ad."
While some ads got the job done with less money, some had high budgets and still missed the mark, which is why the group gave its Illegal Use of Money award to Planters' commercial "Mr. Peanut Is Always There in Crunch Time," which shows the brand's mascot doing explosive stunts to replace a man's kale chips with Planters peanuts.1 comment on this story
Jeff Bridges reprised his role as "The Dude," from "The Big Lebowski," in Stella Artois' "Change Up the Usual" ad, which also featured "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker. Despite the star power, Richter7 thought the ad flopped and gave it the Celebrity Sack award.
The Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer ad "The Pitch," which showed two mermaids pitching the drink to real sharks underwater as an homage to ABC's “Shark Tank,” won Creative Fumble after marketers agreed it fell short.