This morning, as we wipe the spicy wing crust remnants off of our drooly mouths, we all have to come to terms with the fact that Trump voter Tom Brady will now be donning a Super Bowl ring on every finger of a hand he might well high five the Donald with. It really happened. The team that always wins won Super Bowl LI—even though both President Trump and Pats super fan Mark Wahlberg left New England for dead.
Regardless of the scoreboard, everybody knows the real winners of the Super Bowl are the brands, which max out their yearly advertising budgets to reach the game’s massive viewing audience. Sure, we’ve all heard of Pepsi and Budweiser, but there must be some unconverted bunch who depend on that one *hilarious* Super Bowl commercial to change their brand loyalty. Fact: Millions of people switched to Budweiser after the infamous “Wazzup” heard ’round the world. (That’s not a real fact, but hey, advertising is all about embellishment.) Here are the best and worst Super Bowl ads that everybody is talking about. There are more from “the best” category than “the worst,” because this year featured a few great ads, a ton of good ads, and just a couple of stinkers.
I like to imagine that the Skittles advertising team doubles as a Danish performance art collective specializing in Dadaist absurdism. Do any of us “get” Skittles commercials? Not really. But they’re funny and weird. This one features a boy trying to get his crush’s attention by throwing Skittles at her window. Little does he know, everyone in the family is sitting in an assembly-line formation, chomping on his treats.
Winning the “tear-jerker award” is 84 Lumber’s heartbreaking ad that follows a mother and daughter hoping to immigrate to the U.S. The full ad, which depicts Trump’s border wall, was cut because Fox found it to be too controversial. Try not to cry as you watch this little girl create an American flag out of garbage scraps. It’s too much!
Avocados From Mexico
It’s rare that a Super Bowl ad has a great script. Avocados From Mexico followed classic sketch comedy tropes in this Illuminati group game. This “secret society” just can’t agree on anything, and everybody has their part to play. Add in some subliminal messaging featuring Jon Lovitz, and they’ve got a hit on their hands.
When I think of “equal pay for equal work” (which I do often), carmaker Audi is not the first brand to spring to mind. Apparently, Audi wants to get in on the “feminism is cool for men” game, and I’m fine with that.
Simplicity is the key to this ad for website builder SquareSpace. Take a great actor (John Malkovich), give him a common conundrum (someone took your brilliant or most obvious domain name—usually your actual name), and you’ve got an exemplary SB commercial.
This is the ad that caused #boycottBudweiser to trend on Twitter last night. Though the spot tells the story of an immigrant moving to America to chase his dreams, the message is way less controversial than 84 Lumber’s border wall ad. Still, people on the Internet were angry about this extremely historical narrative of Anheuser-Busch’s founding. This spot is worth the hype, so definitely take a watch.
One of Snoop Dogg’s main goals in launching MERRY JANE was to normalize cannabis, and his television work with friend, business mogul, and homemaking icon Martha Stewart is a big part of that. She is as mainstream as you can be, so when weed is humorously woven into his appearances on her show, or on their VH1 show Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, it reaches a wider audience that comes to understand that the plant isn’t the evil gateway drug or signal of the End of Days that it was made out to be in Reefer Madness and other propaganda. Snoop and Martha’s lighthearted ad for T-Mobile continues this theme, as the pair play perfectly off of each other, making weed puns while the odd couple finishes each other’s sentences.
A good number of ads spoke to those of us who are fearing the worst from a president who is already one of the worst, most controversial and divisive in our nation’s history. You can view these ads cynically, but in a time when our “leaders” are acting un-American and trying to deny entry to child refugees and expel visa holders based on their religion, we can’t help but be moved by Airbnb’s message of acceptance across all the many lines that we as humans have created.
This ad is making some “best of” lists, but many find the celebrity CGI-talking yearbook photos extremely creepy, like we do. An embarrassment of talent was used to make this supposedly “inspiring” ad—Tina Fey, Robert Redford, and Steve Carell, to name a few. But, the weird talking portraits just make me want to crawl onto the other side of the Uncanny Valley.
Nobody is saying Mr. Clean isn’t sexy, but sexing up lemon scented cleaning products is the commercial nobody wanted. To make matters worse, Clean’s got a “Sims-like” creepiness that makes him seem more cardboard than jacked. I understand the concept, but if Mr. Clean is supposed to be fuckable...shouldn’t you at least actually make him fuckable?
Yellowtail is known for being a cheap quality wine with a semi-respectable looking label. This is a perfect metaphor for their Super Bowl commercial. It has all the elements of a successful spot, executed horribly. Talking animals, check. Dude in a suit with witty banter, check. Cameo by a hot babe, check. But, this is where it breaks down. The talking kangaroo is animatronic and terrifying. The witty banter (“Do you want to pet my ’roo?”) is incoherent. And the cameo by model Ellie Gonsalves is unearned and uninteresting.
The rebranded domain name company that used to essentially offer celebrity stripteases to get you to visit its site switched things up. Now, it’s using a corny personification of the Internet and reminding us that we should really stop surfing the Web so much because 98 percent of what we encounter is a stupid waste of our time.
Taxes are the worst, and anything that makes them easier is a gift to us all, but the only thing we’ll remember from this Turbo Tax spot featuring a hospitalized Humpty Dumpty seeking clarification on his medical bills is the pus-like yolk seeping out of one of his wounds. Even body horror master David Cronenberg would vomit in his mouth watching this one.