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.