Every year, as reliable as the turning of the leaves, or the sun rising in the morning, is the time-honoured tradition of major corporations spending millions of dollars to convey 30-second messages to fans who are heavily inebriated, in chicken wing-induced comas or both.
According to the Associated Press, this year the price tag is $5 million per half minute, but despite the steep price tag these companies have taken the plunge. They’ve done so for your entertainment and in an arguably-vain attempt to convince you to spend your hard-earned dollars on whatever it is they’re peddling.
Let’s take a look at what some of the world’s top advertising agencies convinced their clients was worth your attention:
Company: Mountain Dew
Analysis: The idea of putting something so profoundly bizarre on screen that it burns its way into the brains of the audience is a tried-and-true strategy. As a result, it would be fair to call this effort by Mountain Dew derivative, but the execution is beyond reproach. You won't forget Puppymonkeybaby.
Analysis: Considering Doritos is one of the greatest beneficiaries of Super Bowl-related gluttony it's only fair they should pony up for a commercial or two. In this case we have a father taunting his unborn child with Doritos that ultimately results in a projectile birth. This is not a high-minded commercial. However, it does have enough of a "oooooooo" moment in it to get the job done.
Title: Moving Day
Analysis: This is the classic "let's put ourselves on the map" Super Bowl ad. How you feel about it likely depends on how charming you find Jeff Goldblum, but his performance works for most. Lil Wayne is also a quality supporting actor who forms a nice odd couple with Goldblum. The "no pie included" disclaimer at the very end is a solid finishing touch that shows attention to detail.
Title: Restricted Bling
Analysis: Quite a clever effort by T-Mobile as they show how bowing to corporate overlords can wreak havoc with the creative process. However, it lacks the sizzle of some of its competitors and is unlikely to be remembered in the days to come. Drake's plastered-on smile and willingness to take direction is befitting of a former Degrassi cast member.
Title: Weiner Stampede
Analysis: The title itself stands out and the dual-weiner imagery is undoubtedly powerful. If the Internet has proven anything it's that people like to observe cute animals, making this a by-the-book offering. Elegant in its simplicity.
Company: Shock Top
Title: Unfiltered Talk
Analysis: Definitely one of the best of the day. Shock Top differentiates itself from the typical beer ad here by not plastering scantily-clad women all over the screen and promising the best time of one's life or some kind of exclusive beer camp/mansion/ski report/shuffleboard emporium.
Instead what we get is a good-natured ribbing session between T.J. Miller and citrus-faced beer tap that has come to life. The conversation is natural and the otherworldly scenario is depicted with surprising realism.
Analysis: Hellen Mirren is unmitigatedly fantastic. She says about everything you can say about drunk driving in sixty seconds with diction far smoother than the beer she's representing. Pillock is definitely an underrated insult.
Unfortunately the suspension of disbelief is downright impossible when the audience is presented with a scenario where Mirren is having a burger and drinking a Budweiser. As good as this commercial is, it would be better if she was eating fettuccine alfredo and drinking Kronenbourg Blanc.
Analysis: There's nothing more relatable about the story of a man who builds a powerful friendship with a marmot only to realize his feelings go a bit further than bromance. When he finds the courage to make a move, his marmot buddy just doesn't feel the same way.
Say what you want about this story idea, but the narrative arc is tight and it's nothing if not memorable. It is pretty hard to see how this compels anyone to by buy any outdoor wear, but it should have people thinking about marmots; perhaps in an entirely different way.
Title: The Portrait
Analysis: If you ever felt the only thing your life is missing is the opportunity to see Steven Tyler force a portrait of himself made of Skittles to sing a note high enough to bring about its own destruction then this is the commercial for you. Otherwise this is the kind of effort that looks as if an advertising executive spun a celebrity cameo wheel and went from there.
Company: Death Wish Coffee
Title: Storm's a-Brewin
Analysis: This commercial starts off strong. There's no two ways about it: Vikings are hot right now. Even Josh Donaldson is in on Vikings and as someone born in Florida in 1985, he's about as far from a Dark Ages Nordic warrior as you can imagine.
However, when it comes to the ad itself, the idea of drinking a longboat full of sea-faring warriors is kind of disturbing, as is the name "Death Wish" for a product meant to be consumed daily. Nothing here seems to make much sense. On the plus side, these guys won some kind of award to get this into the Super Bowl commercial rotation so good on 'em.
Title: The Chase
Analysis: This ad got over 17 million views before the Super Bowl even kicked off, but it's hard to imagine why. Hyundai shows off a voice-activation car-starting feature, then some bears express differing views regarding their intentions vis-a-vis snacking on humans. There's a bit of a surprise element there, but you really shouldn't shocked by animals speaking during a Super Bowl ad at this point.
Title: Super Bowl Babies
Analysis: In this self-indulgent three-plus minute spot, the NFL tells us that winning a Super Bowl results in an uptick in reproductive activities in that team's city on that Sunday. Then it proceeds to show us the children that resulted from this phenomenon and interjects scenes of Super Bowl watchers making eyes at each other on the couch implying what is to come.
The takeaway from all of this is supposed to be "Football is Family." It's all slightly disturbing. Seal also does some singing which is nice, but it's not enough to save the day.
Company: Avocados from Mexico
Analysis: This tour of a museum exhibit on the human race is full of fantastic little details. The fish man dry heaving when he sees humans subjected themselves to the conditions of an airplane, the comment on the deterioration of language in favour of emojis and Scott Baio's inexplicable presence all add a great deal to the production.
The idea that avocados would be the only worthwhile contribution humanity would have to offer to the intergalactic community is depressing, but perhaps not entirely inaccurate.
Title: Drop the Balls
Analysis: T-Mobile takes aim at its competitor Verizon's recent ad campaign and Steve Harvey wears his Miss Universe blunder like a champion. That's some pretty smooth synergy.
Referential and memorable, it's hard to complain about this effort.
Analysis: Not only is this boring to watch, the core idea is pretty offensive. We are meant to believe women are so enthralled by the animal magnetism of Ryan Reynolds that they are rendered incapable of performing basic tasks like not committing vehicular manslaughter when they see him. As a result, they need Hyundai's new auto-emergency braking.
Reynolds is a handsome gentleman, but he doesn't cause society to grind to a halt in his presence.