My favorite Super Bowl ad: GS&P's Margaret Johnson

Margaret Johnson, partner and CCO at Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Ahead of Super Bowl 51, The Drum has asked some of the industry’s most influential people to reflect on their favorite Super Bowl ad of all time and discuss why it stands out to them.

We’ve also asked them to give their thoughts on whether they think social media has helped or hurt the effectiveness of the coveted Super Bowl spot. Over the past few years, many brands have chosen to leverage the power of social media by teasing or releasing their Super Bowl spots online days before the game in hopes of garnering additional buzz and maximizing reach – but a good number of brands still prefer to take the traditional route of surprising viewers on game day.

Up until the Super Bowl, we’ll be featuring responses from agency founders, creatives and CEOs. Today we feature Margaret Johnson, partner and chief creative officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Below, find out why Volkswagen's 2011 "The Force" is her favorite Super Bowl spot.

What is your favorite Super Bowl ad of all time?

“The Force” by Volkswagen is my favorite Super Bowl ad.

Why did you love it? What made it stand out?

It was such a refreshing departure from all the lowbrow humor you typically see during the Super Bowl—cheap sight gags hoping to get quick laughs and drive up scores on the USA Today Ad Meter. “The Force” played in a different arena—an emotional one. Little Vader’s attempt to use the Dark Side on everything around the house, including the family dog, tapped into the innocence of childhood and was incredibly charming.

In your opinion, was it ultimately a success for the brand?

I remember a :60 version was “leaked” a few days before the game, and everyone was passing it around on social media. This was before it was standard industry practice to pre-release ads. A genius strategy on their part that probably saved them several million dollars since they only aired a :30 during the game. So, yes, it was successful.

What do you hope to see from this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads?

I hope someone uses the 30, 60, 90 or 120 seconds for something completely unexpected. Don’t try to sell anything. Make the millions of people watching think about something differently and drive change.

Social media has changed the way brands approach their Super Bowl advertising strategies. Do you think social media has helped or hurt the effectiveness of Super Bowl spots?

I used to look forward to the Super Bowl, not because I was a football fan, but because I couldn’t wait to see what the ads were going to be. We would get a bunch of ad people together, replay all the better spots several times, fast-forward through the game play and then stop to watch the next round of commercials.

Now that we’ve all seen all the ads well before game day, they can’t be as effective. And it’s certainly taken the fun out of it. It just might be more effective in this day and age for brands to play hard to get and actually wait to release the big spot until the day of the Super Bowl.

To read the other interviews in our series, click here.

To find out which brands are advertising in the Super Bowl this year, visit The Drum's dedicated page here.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.