Despite the frenzy that led up to Super Bowl 50, it was a bit of a dud on the field. The game was a sloppy slugfest that Denver eventually took control of (more specifically Von Miller), which allowed Peyton Manning to ride off into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion one more time. Whatever.
That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to talk about the commercials (which weren’t a whole lot better). Although most of the Super Bowl commercials were released online prior to the game, I made a point of not watching any. I wanted to experience them for the first during the game with the rest of America. I'm a man of the people.
There were two big-time winners last night (aside from the Broncos). The first was Lady Gaga who crushed the national anthem despite looking like she was set to host The Hunger Games after her performance. The second was CBS, which was able to charge advertisers $5 million for a 30 second commercial (which is only like $166,666 per second) – an 11 percent increase from last year.
And since this is Super Bowl 50, I’ll give you a historical perspective on that outrageous cost. In Super Bowl I, which was the only Super Bowl that was simulcast in the United States by two networks, NBC and CBS, a 30 second commercial cost approximately $42,000.
While watching the game last night, I graded each commercial in real time (holy crap there were a lot) and noted which ones stood out to me. From these commercials, I worked my way down to my 10 favorites to end up with the list you’re about to read.
Was this a scientific process? Ha! Good one. Is my list rife with personal bias? You bet! Did I get sleepy and pay less attention in the fourth quarter after I took a melatonin and sipped some chamomile tea? ...Were you at my house last night?
Anyway, here are my 10 favorite Super Bowl commercials in no particular order.
Avocados from Mexico, B+
Apparently the avocado industry is doing quite well. Who knew? In this 60 second spot, aliens of the future tour a museum displaying “the bounty of Earth.” The commercial moves fast, but the jokes are funny. Two things we learn – nobody wants to feed Scott Baio and Quadmoggers don’t regenerate.
Alright, ladies. This one's for you. What's better than one Ryan Reynolds? How about like an entire village of Ryan Reynolds-es? In this spot from Hyundai, Ryan Reynolds is, well, distracting. He's a former Sexiest Man Alive and apparently a man of many talents. Keep your eye on the road.
Was anyone else a little thrown off by the N.F.L.’s first two Super Bowl baby teasers? I certainly was, but then again, it had the ultimate secret weapon, Seal. And yes, this commercial likely led to some very awkward conversations between parents and kids, but the N.F.L. would rather have you talking about that instead of concussions. Nice diversion, Goddell.
Mountain Dew, B+
I said these were my favorite. A commercial’s job is to get noticed, and this one certainly did. In perhaps the strangest ad of night, Mountain Dew showed us that “three awesome things combined” is recipe for a monster. PuppyMonkeyBaby got people talking, but you have to seriously wonder why they went with a baby’s legs though. Toddlers stumble around like little drunk people.
Drake was funny. He demonstrated that he isn’t above poking fun at himself, which resulted in a homerun spot for T-Mobile. I don’t actually know anybody who is a T-Mobile customer, but maybe people will switch, because Drake.
Who knew the Toyota Prius was a pretty good getaway car? With this ad, Toyota proves they get it. The Prius isn’t without its criticisms, but Toyota uses them to carve a smart, tongue-in-cheek spot that was surprising to many. Also, it scored huge points with fans of The Wire, by featuring three members of the Sobotka family. And true story, I was pulled over for speeding while driving a Prius, so I’m proof that “it’s actually pretty fast.”
Did anyone else think there were a lot of celebrities in this year’s ads? Not to be outdone, Amazon rolled out Jason Schwartzman, Alec Baldwin, Missy Elliot and Dan Marino to advertise the Amazon Echo. And in case you were keeping score at home, Dan Marino has the same number of Super Bowl rings as Alec Baldwin does Oscars. Zero.
Too bad Pepsi couldn’t negotiate a contract with Honda’s singing sheep. They would have dusted the Lisa Frank inspired Coldplay performance with their rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Oh well, maybe next year. Either way, this light-hearted ad for the Honda Ridgeline’s outdoor speaker made me feel good.
Sometimes the lowest hanging fruit is the best one to go after. Heinz has probably been sitting on this idea, for 20+ years, but still, it delivered the “awwwwww” moment of the night. Dachshunds dressed up as little hot dogs? I can’t wait to see the Halloween costumes.
Bud Light, A
It’s election year, so why not vote for the Bud Light party? Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen star in one of the few funny beer commercials this year. Okay, so the “caucus” joke sort of wrote itself, but Bud Light does accurately point out that we all love Paul Rudd. I also give it an extra bump because of the “Independence Day” inspired speech.