USA Today ranked all 60-plus Super Bowl commercials last night with their ‘Ad Meter.’ But here’s what we think. Mostly in the order they appeared.
Funny and Fresh:
1. Skittles, Romance the Rainbow. A guy is trying to get his girlfriend’s attention by throwing Skittles at her bedroom window. Except she’s awake, and eating the Skittles. It was clever, and at least in this year’s crop, it made an impression.
2. Buschhhhh. The guy cracks a beer, and the sound lasts forever. It’s rare for a big budget commercial to go for that kind of awkward humor . . . where something lame is drawn out to absurd lengths. It may not have worked, but points for trying.
3. Justin Bieber was a Celebration Expert for T-Mobile. He did a history of end zone celebrations, and classed it up with a tux and a decent haircut. And for once we didn’t want to punch him.
4. Honda did an Animated Yearbook, where Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Viola Davis and other celebrities came to life in awkward photos to give advice. It was the most unique effect of the night, AND the best use of celebrity placement.
For example, Weather Tech spent a ton of money on that spilled coffee ad, where a SWAT team kept the guy’s coffee from ruining his car. But actually, it could have used a celebrity driver to be more memorable.
5. Christopher Walken for Bai Antioxidant Infusion Drink. He was sitting next to a fire in a stuffy library reciting ‘N Sync lyrics. As in “Bai Bai Bai.” Get it? And Justin Timberlake was sitting next him, approving the recital.
6. Tide tried go viral with a stain on Terry Bradshaw’s shirt. They ran a promo in the second quarter for the halftime show, and people online noticed that Terry had a stain on his shirt. But it was all a setup for a commercial a few minutes later.
He had to book it out of the studio, and eventually ended up in Jeffrey Tambor’s house. Kind of random, which probably kept it from winning the night. But creative.
7. Is it weird the Sprint had a dad Faking His Death in front of his kids to get out of his Verizon contract? “Well kids, Daddy’s dead.” We like that they went there.
8. After halftime, there was the Sexy Mr. Clean commercial, where the housewife got all sexed up by Mr. Clean’s animated butt. With the tagline “You gotta love a man who cleans.” Note to guys . . . this actually works.
9. Budweiser avoided sentimental animals this year, with Born the Hard Way, about the founder of Anheuser-Busch coming to America as an immigrant in the 1850s. They say it WASN’T intended to comment on the immigration debate.
10. Kia made fun of environmental liberals and promoted a hybrid at the same time. That’s the one were Melissa McCarthy was an eco warrior who kept messing up. Now THAT’S how you do politics.
11. Speaking of politics, something called “It’s A 10 Hair Care” did a pretty direct hit on Trump with a Four Years of Bad Hair spot. We’re guessing whether you liked that one or not depends . . . on who you voted for.
12. T-Mobile kept rolling out the hits last night. Another winner was the woman who kept calling Verizon over their annoying contracts and fees . . . because she LIKED being punished, “50 Shades of Grey” style.
It was later in the game, but it was edgy, topical, and well done.
And it got some of the biggest laughs at the party we went to. Just kidding, we watched the game alone.
13. And finally, there was the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster ad, where Peter Fonda from “Easy Rider” accidentally blocked in a bunch of tough bikers. Note to advertisers: That is the ONLY TIME when using “Born to Be Wild” is acceptable.
Old and Stale:
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger for Mobile Strike, with his same, tired old catchphrases. Enough Arnold, we GET it. It’s not working for “Celebrity Apprentice” either.
2. Go Daddy usually makes a bigger splash. This year they did a thing where a guy is the internet personified. Like, in the flesh. It wasn’t lame, it just seemed like a confusing, missed opportunity, with outdated internet memes.
3. Sorry, Yellowtail Wine. It just didn’t happen for you this year. ‘Pet my roo’ didn’t trend, and nothing landed in that entire commercial with the partying kangaroo.
4. There were a LOT fewer animals this year. With the exception of the random groundhog in the Skittles commercial, and The Ghost of Spuds MacKenzie for Bud Light. Was it worth bringing him back? Or stale?
5. And was the cracked Humpty Dumpty for Turbotax creative, or creepy? We couldn’t tell. Especially when the yoke leaked out of his mouth.
6. Does anyone remember exactly what happened during the Snickers commercial with Adam Driver . . . the first ever “live” Super Bowl ad? Other than it was live? Seemed like another missed opportunity.
A bunch of ads clearly went with an “inclusiveness” vibe, to tap into that post-election need for healing that everyone keeps talking about.
1. Google started it off in the first commercial, for Google Home. It was pretty multi-cultural, and there was even a gay-friendly rainbow flag if you were paying attention. Airbnb got multicultural too, with their We Accept ad.
2. And obviously there was the Bud ad about the founder of Anheuser-Busch being an immigrant.
3. But there was also the 84 Lumber commercial, where the Mexican migrant and her daughter head to the U.S. The ending was deemed too controversial for the game, so they directed people online . . . and crashed their own website.
Basically, the little girl makes an American flag of out scraps of litter. Then they get to a giant border wall, and there’s a big wooden DOOR. The tagline was, “The will to succeed is always welcome here.” That’s why Fox rejected the full cut of the ad.
4. There was also the Audi Daughter ad about equal pay for women, with the little girl beating the boys in her go-cart race.
Here’s a shocker . . . how you felt about that one depended on your political views. Some people criticized it for being politically correct propaganda. Or because Audi has never taken a stance on that issue before. Although . . . does that matter?
Let’s face it, with all these political ads, you love them or hate them depending on your politics. Not whether the ad was well done or not. Coke even re-ran that ad from last year before the game, where people sang “America the Beautiful” in different languages. And some people STILL don’t like it.
The trailer for the “Baywatch” movie had one of the funnier moments. Zac Efron ripped off his tearaway pants to reveal some sweet Star-Spangled briefs, and said he was wearing “freedom.” But The Rock called it “desecration.”
There were also trailers for “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two” . . . “Logan”, the third Wolverine movie . . . “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales“, the fifth Johnny Depp Pirates movie. . .
“Transformers: The Last Knight”, the fifth Transformers movie . . . and “The Fate of the Furious”, the EIGHTH Fast and Furious movie. Oh, and “Life”, a movie in space with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds.
2. Does anyone know, like, anyone who drives an Alfa Romeo? Seems like a big ad buy for them, for no reason. Ditto for Turkish Airlines with Morgan Freeman. I know exactly when I’ll need Turkish Airlines . . . for that trip to Turkey. (???)
3. Most of the commercials had been released online the week or two before the game, and racked up millions of views.
But some of the best ones HADN’T.
Like Bai Bai Bai with Christopher Walken, and the T-Mobile ads where the girl wanted Verizon to ‘punish’ her.
We say it every year, but it WOULD be cooler if they just let the ads run for the first time during the game. It makes the whole thing more fun and interesting if you don’t know what’s coming.
The best way to ‘win’ the Super Bowl if you’re a commercial is to be memorably funny, or go for the heart strings . . . eight of the ten most popular Super Bowl ads last year were sentimental.
That definitely wasn’t the theme this year.
In fact, it was kind of a mixed bag, without any theme. Unless you count talking animals. There were a LOT of talking animals this year. And the usual mix of celebrity cameos, cars, and Doritos pushing the envelope.
USA Today ranked all 63 of them with their Ad Meter ratings, but we’re not sure we agree. Here are our 15 picks for the most buzzworthy moments, in the order they appeared. But they didn’t always generate buzz for the right reasons . . .
1. Avocados from Mexico. This is the first commercial that actually made us laugh, where aliens in the future tour a museum of pop culture artifacts from the past . . . like “the dress” no one could agree on, and SCOTT BAIO.
And actually, they could have done a LOT with that concept, by making fun of how our culture today is obsessed with something one minute, then quickly moves on. So maybe it was more of a missed opportunity.
2. The Doritos Ultrasound. Doritos usually goes a little more edgy, and this one delivered, for two reasons. Women got to laugh at their idiotic husbands . . . and it suggested ‘birth by Doritos,’ so the lazy dad ended up making things happen.
3. An Astronaut takes a ride in Audi. An ex-astronaut came to life when his son let him drive the Audi R8. It had the sentimental kick that was so big last year. But some people thought it was depressing, since the dad seemed sad and bored in retirement.
4. “Puppy Monkey Baby.” This was more of a “WTF” moment, and that’s exactly what Mountain Dew wanted. Kickstart combines Mountain Dew, juice, and caffeine, so they combined a pug, a monkey, and a baby. And it was horrifying.
5. Steven Tyler for Skittles. Does STEVEN TYLER still have celebrity draw? I guess it depends on your reaction to this commercial. We were divided.
6. Bud Light’s Political Campaign. Politics is a circus now, so this one felt topical. And SETH ROGEN and AMY SCHUMERtook their joke about ‘caucuses’ surprisingly far.
It’s also a good reminder of how much better ads would be if they were actually a SURPRISE during the game, instead of being released online days before.
7. The Prius robbery. This one didn’t generate as much buzz online, but you have to respect the setup . . . a getaway car outruns the law just by being a hybrid. Maybe they should have made the criminals seem more threatening. Still, it was pretty epic.
8. Amazon Echo with Alec Baldwin. This is the rare example of cramming random celebrities into one commercial and making it work. Probably because it had ALEC BALDWIN. Alec Baldwin makes everything awesome.
At the same time . . . what exactly does the Amazon Echo do? Does anyone know? They didn’t really explain.
9. Anthony Hopkins for Turbo Tax. Our favorite ad of the night, hands down. ANTHONY HOPKINS is so A-list, you don’t expect to see him shilling in a commercial. And he was totally poker-faced through the whole thing. That’s how you use a celebrity.
10. Weiner dogs for Heinz. Attention ad companies. Animals in commercials work SO much better when they are not CGI, not talking, and not doing human things.
11. Super Bowl babies. The idea that kids are born nine months after their parents watched the home team win the Super Bowl? Awesome. A little humor would have gone a long way here. Instead they made it serious. Still, people loved it.
12. Christopher Walken for Kia. “Walk-en closet.” Get it? It also made us realize . . . we could probably watch a LOT more ofCHRISTOPHER WALKEN playing with sock puppets.
And it made fun of how celebrity cameos are ridiculous, since Walken addressed the awkward segue between the setup, and selling cars. Very meta.
13. Drake for T-Mobile. They made fun of DRAKE’S horrible dance moves in the “Hotline Bling” video, and he was a good sport. And when the T-Mobile suits give him notes on what to do, his reaction was unexpected.
14. Helen Mirren vs driving drunk. HELEN MIRREN is one of those celebrities everyone loves, and Budweiser addressed a serious topic and had a little fun at the same time. Very difficult to pull off, and it got a huge reaction on the Ad Meter.
15. As far as missed opportunities and misfires, the very first ad for Michelob Ultra blew the big ‘first commercial during the game’ opportunity, since it wasn’t funny OR sentimental.
Especially when you consider the next commercial was that same old Snickers shtick with celebrities swapping personalities. It’s probably time to retire that one.
The Apartments.com ad with JEFF GOLDBLUM was a good example of two problems to avoid: Misusing a famously weird celebrity, AND cramming too many ideas into one commercial. Taco Bell did the same thing with their ‘Quesalupa’ spot.
And finally, LG failed with their spot for OLED TV’s with LIAM NEESON. He was in arguably the best commercial last year, because he got all threatening with gamers online. So if you have a SERIOUS celebrity on your hands, have fun with it.
Here are USA Today’s picks for the five best commercials, which we don’t necessarily agree with. And here are their fiveWORST . . . which we definitely DO agree with. No one wants to hear about constipation or toenail fungus.
Some of the local commercials in different markets made waves too. One on the east coast got people pretty worked up. It was a tourism spot for Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, and aired right after halftime in New York, Philly, and D.C.
But along with a bunch of patriotic images from American history, they included tragic stuff . . . including the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Some people thought that was tasteless, since the Super Bowl isn’t really when you want to dwell on that kind of thing. But it’s probably more about HOW you deliver the message. You can’t sneak up on people with 9/11.
There was another one in the D.C. area for a local plumbing company called Michael & Son, that even got MIKE TYSON to show up and knock a guy out. Remember, it was a LOCAL commercial. Not bad.
Other than Ronald McDonald, there’s no McDonald’s character more famous than the Hamburglar. Well, maybe Grimace. Mayor McCheese? Please.
But the Hamburglar’s been in exile for a while now . . . they haven’t used him in an ad since 2002.
Except yesterday they announced he’s making a comeback. And he looks . . . um . . . different.
The Hamburglar you remember was cartoonish . . . he had a giant round head, one tooth, and a goofy smile. The new Hamburglar? He’s a middle-aged HIPSTER.
The guy playing the character in commercials isn’t wearing a big funny mascot head anymore . . . it’s just a regular dude with stubble. He’s still got the black mask over his eyes, a hat, and a striped shirt . . . but also has skinny jeans and red leather high tops.
Oh . . . and he’s a dad now. (???)
He’s about to start appearing in commercials for a new McDonald’s product, the Sirloin Third Pound Burger.
The Super Bowl commercials yesterday were probably overshadowed by the game, since it went down to the last few plays . . . and since most ads were released online last week. It’s gotten bad, and it REALLY lessens their impact.
But some stood out. Here are 20 of the commercials and trends we noticed, roughly in the order they appeared.
1. Chevy freaked everyone out right away by making people think their reception was messed up. But it was just about how the Chevy Colorado comes with built-in WiFi. It annoyed a lot of people on social media, but you have to admit it got your attention.
2. Snickers was hard to top, as we predicted. That’s the one where they made it look like DANNY TREJO from “Machete” andSTEVE BUSCEMI were two of the daughters on “The Brady Bunch” . . . and acting out because they needed a Snickers.
It also made us think . . . THAT’S how you use a celebrity. There were a ton of celebrity cameos in ads this year, but not all of them worked. It worked here because they used unexpected faces in unexpected ways.
3. It sounds weird to say, but Carnival Cruise lines had a pretty effective ad early on. It was voiceover from an old speech by JFK, about how there’s salt in our blood and technically human beings come from the sea. But it was actually pretty powerful.
At the same time, it seems like way too many companies went for the ‘serious’ angle this year. You know it’s gotten bad when Carnival Cruise lines is using dead presidents. (More on that here.)
4. Skittles got some laughs early on with a town where people “settle it the usual way” when there’s only one Skittle left . . . by ARM wrestling. So everyone had huge right arms . . . even little kids and dogs.
5. KIM KARDASHIAN did a fake, sentimental PSA for T-Mobile about saving your unused data . . . the one she teased on“Conan” last week. Even if you’re sick of her, at least she can make fun of herself.
6. The Budweiser “Lost Puppy” commercial won “USA Today’s” ad meter results. Probably because it was shamelessly manipulative. Not only did the puppy get lost, he almost got attacked by a WOLF . . . until his Clydesdale friends saved him.
7. MINDY KALING did a funny ad for Nationwide Insurance where she thought she was invisible, and tried to kiss MATT DAMON.
8. Coke scored with a message about making modern technology less about bullying, hating, and negativity . . . all because a guy spilled a Coke on a server somewhere. Kind of ironic, since last year everyone online HATED their multi-ethnic commercial.
9. Doritos proved again that they’re reliable for ads that actually make you laugh. There was the guy who made sure no one wanted to sit next to him in the MIDDLE SEAT on a plane, unless it was a hot woman . . . but it turned out she had a baby.
10. Esurance had a couple funny commercials about how it’s the right product for you . . . not someone SORTA like you. So they had BRYAN CRANSTON as Walter White from “Breaking Bad” playing your pharmacist.
And if you missed it, they ran an ad right BEFORE the game with the same idea . . . where LINDSAY LOHAN played a lousy mom.
11. Fiat did the ad where the old Italian guy wants to take a Viagra, but drops it out the window, where it eventually ends up in a car and makes it . . . you know . . . bigger.
12. At halftime, Always became the first-ever feminine care product to do a Super Bowl ad, and they scored pretty big with their ‘Like a Girl‘ commercial. They asked guys and women to do things “like a girl,” and showed how it had become an INSULT.
But YOUNG girls don’t feel that way. It was actually a shorter version of a three-minute viral video they made last June.
13. Then Skechers snuck in an amusing PETE ROSE joke, where he wasn’t allowed “in the hall” . . . even in his own home. But that one’s been around for months.
14. LIAM NEESON was in one of the funnier commercials, for the game Clash of Clans. He made fun of all the clichéd tough guy characters he plays now . . . but he was just in line to buy a scone.
15. Dodge did the ad where people 100 years or older talked about how you can learn a lot in 100 years. As far as serious or emotionally manipulative commercials go, it just worked . . . because they had fun with it.
16. A company called Mophie did an intense, big-budget ad where earth was hit by the apocalypse . . . all because God was preoccupied when his CELL phone battery died. There was some controversy over the subject, but it ended on an amusing note.
17. One of the last commercials was for Wix.com, where BRETT FAVRE was trying to start a website. We just thought it was interesting that it featured has-been NFL players dealing with retirement. A somewhat bold move on the NFL’s biggest night.
18. As far as ads we DIDN’T like, Nationwide Insurance had that funny commercial where Mindy Kaling thought she was invisible . . . but also threw out one of the DARKEST ads we’ve ever seen during a Super Bowl. It’s the one where a kid DIED from a preventable accident. NOT a cool twist ending . . . and people went off on social media.
19. And some people were confused by the Jeep ad that used “This Land is Your Land” . . . probably one of the most famous songs about America. But it doesn’t make as much sense when you’re showing China, Brazil, and Australia.
20. There were also TWO commercials featuring screaming goats, from Sprint and Discover. Which feels a LITTLE dated in 2015. But hey, if it makes YOU laugh . . .
If you’re like the stereotypical guy in sitcoms and commercials, you haven’t bought any Christmas presents yet. But that might actually be a good thing . . . at least you can hear THIS before you buy anything.
A new study had women name the worst gifts their husband or boyfriend could buy them. Here are the top 11 . . .
Bath salts . . . the stuff you get at Bath and Body Works for the bathtub, NOT the drug that makes you eat people’s faces.
Perfume . . . because you’ll never pick the right one.