Commercials: Are there any good ones?

Commercials: Are there any good ones?

Alex Siminoff

It’s Sunday night, and you’re chilling on your couch. You're streaming How I Met Your Mother while aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. You're too poor to afford Hulu without commercials and the scene comes to an end.

BAM! Marshawn Lynch comes barreling through a brick wall, with a football in hand. He rips his helmet off and yells, “They should have ran the ball, man!” Lynch storms off,  sobbing, with a football in one hand and a box of Kleenex in the other. You’re can't help by crack up and find yourself choking on your Doritos.

This unexpected humor and cultural reference is exactly why I love commercials. Or at least the good ones.

Remember those ASPCA commercials? The animals were locked in small cages, looking malnourished and depressed. I’d be half eating dinner, half crying my eyes out. Or more recently, the Under Armour ad featuring Michael Phelps’ ridiculously intense training regimen. You know, the one that made you look in a mirror, realizing you should actually use your $50/month gym membership.

These commercials work! They make you feel sad enough to adopt a malnourished puppy, despite living in a 30 sqft college dorm, balling on a $20/week budget. You could never leave your depressed puppy alone. So, you’re obligated to bring the puppy with you to the gym, and hit those weights. Damnit, Michael Phelps.

Photo by 12photostory on Unsplash

Every year, hundreds of thousands of commercials are produced. But what is the actual point of a commercial? Effective commercials should immediately make you want to take an action. Google the company, write down avocados on your grocery list, etc. But there are too many times I see a cringeworthy ad. Why is this on my TV?

Brands make commercials to build brand awareness. You want them to further research the product, and eventually purchase it. Only unique and well thought out commercials will rise above the usual clutter. The lagged effect, a delayed response to a marketing campaign, makes consumers less inclined to immediately buy. There are also thousands of options available to consumers now-a-days. It's a tough world for advertisers.

Let’s break down some popular commercials and critique them based on these factors:  

1. Relevance– Is the commercial relevant to the product/service being portrayed?

2. Connection– Does the commercial effectively make you feel the way it’s intended to? (Examples: ASPCA and Under Armour)

3. Effectiveness– Is this a quality commercial that makes you want this product/service?

Photo by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash

The Good

Audi R8

Unlike the typical car commercials you see, Audi has taken a different approach. This intriguing commercial starts by telling a story about a son and his father. The father used to be an astronaut, and is now an angry, old man who won’t eat. They step outside, and you see Audi’s brand spanking new R8. This thing looks slicker than Don Draper’s hair. The son hands his keys to his dad, and they hop in his new spaceship. As the story unravels, you see frequent flashbacks of the father’s past as an astronomer. A brief smirk crosses his face, as they race away to get a fat juicy burger, since he didn’t eat dinner. This masterpiece puts the car in a class of its own. Who wouldn’t want an R8 after watching this? For the first time in history a car commercial didn’t bore half its viewers to sleep.


You will never find a more compelling commercial than this. Throughout the commercial, you feel a sense of connection with the boy, as you reminisce your youth. After all the days of curiosity, Evan finally meets his secret admirer. You can’t help but feel happy for him. At a boy Evan! But then out of the blue, the plot completely changes and you’re frozen. Your face drops and a tear falls out of your eye. The rollercoaster of emotions you go through make this one of the best commercials you’ll ever see. It really makes you think about the cause involved.

Amazon Prime

I’m sure you’ve seen this commercial before, and it really captures the aspects of a quality commercial. The way Amazon portrays the initial story of two different cultures is genuine and heartwarming. Both of these men have an issue with their knee, and use Amazon’s quick and easy app to purchase a knee brace. This ad captures the simplicity of Amazon’s app, and just how fast it’s shipping is for Prime members. Even old people can use it! The background music is quite catchy and flows with the ad. Simple and effective.

NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Not all great commercials have to sell a product. I don’t rate this commercial highly because it’s for a cause or problem. The drug addiction commercial with the fake doctor, that always airs on ESPN, makes me feel like I blew a 3–1 lead in the finals. Sorry Warriors fans. Man in the Mirror immediately catches your attention with the eerie music in the background. The sudden loud shouts at the mirror startle you. It’s intense, dramatic, and delivers it message clearly. Don’t drink and drive.

iPhone 7

Apple never fails to impress. This commercial is simple, elegant, and effective. Apple is showing off the new iPhone, and how superb its camera is. As the little kids are acting out the iconic Romeo and Juliet kissing scene, you can’t help but love this commercial. The last part of this commercial is a close up of the father, as he records his little girl. His face is lit with emotion, as you see just how proud he is of his daughter. Well, at least I hope he’s her dad… This heartfelt commercial makes you eager to get your hands on the iPhone 7’s camera.

The Not So Good

Lincoln MKZ

Why in the world is Matt McConoughey falling into a pool for a car commercial? The only positive I can see from this commercial is that the car itself is portrayed brilliantly, and looks sleek. Ultimately, it just doesn’t make sense. The commercial lacks true purpose and reason. If you have a celebrity endorsing your product, maybe use them? Matt says 0 words. 0. At the end of the ad, the words “It’s like that.” appear. Um? It’s like what? It’s like shit.

Chevy Cruze Hatch

At last, we have your typical, lackluster car commercial. This “real people” campaign Chevy has been using is a weak attempt at a car commercial. We all know they are getting paid for this, you’re not fooling anyone but yourselves. “Real people” wouldn’t strictly say positive things about a car, especially the hideous orange color displayed. Why in the world was the color orange used to show off the car? I kind of want a clementine now though. Anyways, this ad looks like every other car commercial I’ve seen on TV this week. Step up your game Chevy. And bring me some clementines.

Kia Sorento

This commercial is painful to watch. The relevance is missing, and the background music is loud, and very obnoxious. I’m glad to see Bo again, but Kia made a very noisy commercial. Is this a Tecmo Bowl or Kia commercial I’m watching? I want to know something about the car, instead of reminiscing about Tecmo Bowl and Bo’s football career. There is way too much going on. I’m just going to go play Madden and forget I watched this.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual released several 30 second commercials that you’ll see frequently on TV. I have one word to describe these commercials, basic. They all have the same plot, and the only thing that changes is a benefit of Liberty Mutual. These commercials are boring and don’t capture my attention at all. The Statue of Liberty looks nice though, never been. This series is very simple, but props to them for constantly having them aired. Repetition is key.

I’m hoping you have a better understanding of what an effective commercial is, and the difference between a good and not so good commercial. Remember, advertisements have to be thorough and well thought out, in order to be effective. Each campaign has so much effort behind it, yet only a slim margin are successful.

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