The Commercials of Super Bowl 51

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.

Getting Political:

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.

(Here’s the Complete the Journey ending they didn’t air.  And here’s The Entire Journey.)


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.


Movie Trailers:

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.


(Here are all the other trailers they showed.)

Stray Observations:

1.  The preview for Stranger Things 2 was great to see.

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.

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