Ratings fell for a third straight Super Bowl, after a wholly disappointing season for the NFL. Competition was scarce, especially on the season’s nationally televised schedule. A rash of injuries took down a large number of the league’s most marketable players.
And, most notably, the issue of institutionalized racial injustice found a voice in demonstrating NFL players. All the wrong people chimed in, turning a respectful protest into a highly politicised and public war fought on airwaves and in opinion columns rather than on the field.
These aspects, in addition to the expected vanilla halftime show, an injured MVP quarterback, and omnipresent MVP quarterback opposing him, all made for a less-than-titillating run up to the big game. Of course, as most Super Bowl predictions go, these were mostly wrong—except for the halftime show. It was predictably bad.
One aspect of the spectacle that remained consistent was the constant commercial sideshow. Super Bowl ads tend to run in a few distinct veins, often peddling emotional, humorous, or patriotic sentiments. The 52nd batch delivered more of the same, with appearances by Cardi B, Morgan Freeman, Bill Hader, and many more.
Best Super Bowl Commercials
We’ve seen, in the last ten years or so, a new category of ad evolve—weird and random. Old Spice is the brand that comes to mind as a pioneer, but nearly everyone has dabbled in the genre since then, with varying degrees of success. This Diet Coke ad is quirky, fresh, and entertaining. And, it’s just a girl dancing poorly. Sometimes simple is best.
There were a number of celeb-heavy spots, Amazon‘s Alexa commercial being one of them. The premise is fantastic, as we are forced to wonder, “What if Alexa lost her voice?”.
Jeep delivered what was easily my favorite commercial of the night—Jeff Goldblum reprises his role in the legendary Tyrannosaurus Rex chase from Jurassic Park. The CGI dino is great, no doubt, but pales in comparison to the animals rendered for the 1993 blockbuster—the greatest movie beasts of all time.
In one of the most clever series of ads, Tide lightheartedly mocked each and every category of Super Bowl spot. Did they miss a huge opportunity to reference the historically stupid Tide Pod Challenge? Yes. And no. It was probably better to try and let that one die on the internet.
As I mentioned, it was a tough year for the NFL. This light spot featuring NY duo Manning and Beckham provided a humorous segway into an offseason the league hopes will bring less negativity.
The best joke of the night was well executed and got more funny with each delivery. Props to Febreeze for knowing their product and its main use.
Doritos & Mountain Dew
The big game brought more star power in this collaborative junk food spot. Morgan Freeman is great miming Missy Elliot for Mountain Dew, as would be expected, but Peter Dinklage as Busta Rhymes, for Doritos, steals the show.
Worst Super Bowl Commercials
Yes, donating all that water to last year’s hurricane victims was a great gesture. Spending five million dollars to show everyone the nice thing you did is nauseating. Which, at least, displays a level of consistency for Budweiser.
This seems like not a great time to use a powerful Martin Luther King Jr speech to sell trucks. The theme is this year’s duds is the painfull tone deafness of their producers.
The charitable note was one many brands tried to hit. Stella’s came out flat, asking patrons to buy a glass with their name on as a mechanism to raise money for those who need it. Not to mention, this confusing message was relayed by everyone’s favorite complicit white guy, Matt Damon.
Coke a Cola
I feel somewhat bad for making this spot as being bad. There’s not much inherently bad about it, I just feel as though messages of inclusivity and love are past the colorful sing song images and deserve more serious coverage and discussion.
The Cloverfield Paradox
Although I give props to the use of dramatic “Right now” dialogue in the trailer to mean the movie was available to stream at that moment, this one falls into the category of duds because the movie itself was so disappointing.
JJ Abrams gives viewers no reason to care about characters introduced in emotional fashion within the film’s first twenty minutes. Now we know how the Cloverfield timeline starts, though, which is a small victory.