Everything about this year’s Super Bowl was subdued. The game was subdued. The announcers were subdued. If you had ears, you know even the sound technician for the halftime show was subdued, and then replaced with somebody who’d never seen a sound board before. I never thought I’d miss dancing sharks so god damn much.
The Super Bowl commercials were surprisingly subdued, too. Although there were a few talking animals, the name of the game this year was celebrity endorsements. So let’s look at the best and worst Super Bowl commercials that aired this year.
Advertisers have realized more and more that different types of people buy things. Sounds obvious, right? Yet no longer are car commercials or men’s deodorant commercials playing only to one audience. Now, they’re playing to an audience that’s becoming increasingly accepting. “Breathe” may not call out its diversity as a feature of the ad the way Mini Cooper’s ad did, but the implicit recognition that we’re all connected in our drive to be better is a strong concept.
Minute-long Super Bowl commercials are rare. They’re expensive and they’re more demanding of the audience’s attention. So if you’re going to do one, you’d better bring something special. Christopher Walken with a sock puppet talking about the cons of beige socks? That’ll capture an audience’s attention. This was easily the best celebrity spot of the Super Bowl.
Sometimes the simplest message is the most effective. NO MORE’s public awareness campaign against domestic violence made viewers fill in the gaps of what they were missing. Sometimes the imagination can come up with the most horrifying conclusions, especially when the topic is one we so often avoid discussing in our everyday lives.
It’s a big gear shift to go to the Super Bowl’s funniest commercial now. Avocados From Mexico’s spot put the most jokes into the quickest amount of time. From hilarious make-up to topical humor and a Scott Baio joke, this was the most endearing commercial of the night. The minute-long version above is even funnier (a shortened, 30-second spot ran during the Super Bowl). Plus, avocados are the most delicious things on the planet, so it’s not as if there’s any risk of false advertisement.
A good Super Bowl commercial tells you everything you need to know about a product. It delivers several reasons to buy it. This is one reason Advil may’ve had the most effective Super Bowl commercial, but when we talk about the best, effective has to be combined with discussion-worthy. The ad discusses a range of the car’s features without even mentioning most of them: a sleek look, the dashboard display, its speed, rear-view camera, customer satisfaction and fandom, its range, automatic braking, and its quiet ride. Many of these are even turned into jokes so that viewers notice without feeling like they’re being sold to. It’s a masterclass on effective advertising.
Oh man, it takes a lot of effort to create a weirder mascot than this: a walking, smiling, friendly ball of intestines who goes to football games and gets diarrhea. The health situations people suffer are serious, but you really have to wonder what was being thought about here. Luckily for Xifaxan, this year’s Super Bowl hosted the worst mascot that may have ever been invented. More on that later.
OK, featuring comedians riffing on the “Independence Day” speech is cute. And certainly, Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer hit a solid cross-section of viewers. Even if you don’t like one, you probably like the other. But ending a commercial with a parody of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial (especially when there’s no Black speaking roles) is massively tone deaf and insulting. Also: Bud Light? There can’t be anything on the planet that tastes worse than that, can there:
Xifaxan’s GutGuy is thanking his lucky stars right now. The message is supposed to be that combining three awesome things (puppies, monkeys, and babies) into one is what Mountain Dew is doing with their new drink. Wait, does that mean the drink is made from puppies, monkeys, and babies? Whatever, as long as it’s fizzy.
The resultant horror show really only conveys disgust. Which, if it’s supposed to be a representation of how Mountain Dew tastes, is surprisingly honest advertising. Who did this? What were they thinking? What were they on? Is what they were on in the drink? Or are you advertising Mountain Dew as the perfect chaser to hallucinatory drugs? The people who made this commercial are going to the very special hell a certain Shepherd Book once mentioned.