If we were supposed to take away anything from the crop of largely underwhelming 2016 Super Bowl commercials, I suppose it would be the following items: One, people really love talking animals, and animals doing people things in general. And two, football fans around the world are suffering from violent digestive issues, with no ability to start or stop bowel movements in anything resembling a healthy timeframe. Good to know. Thanks, marketing.
Below, please find the ads from this years Super Bowl, grouped into three categories: Good, Meh, and Nope. As you can imagine, “Meh” is the largest category, as I really had to grade on a curve to get more than one or two into “Good.” It was not a great year for Super Bowl commercials. Let’s dig in.
Heinz: Wiener stampede
Best commercial. Not even close.
Budweiser: “Give a Damn,” starring Helen Mirren
Let’s be clear here: Helen Mirren has never had a Budweiser. Not once. Not a chance. She didn’t even take a sip from that open bottle next to her. Not even out of curiosity. This entire premise sleeps on a bed of lies.
But if Helen Mirren calling people mean names gets them to stop driving drunk (and it should!), we can overlook small details like this.
Prius: “The Longest Chase”
The better of the two Prius commercials, by far, was #TheLongestChase, because it implied that you should steal a Prius and run from the cops in it if you want the best chance of evading police during a high-speed chase. I can get behind this marketing strategy. Now I just need Black & Decker to show me which power drill would be best for pulling priceless works of art off the wall, and I’m set.
Oh, and if you’d like to a peek behind the scenes into how Toyota made their Super Bowl spots, here’s a great one right here…
Shock Top: “Unfiltered Talk,” featuring T.J. Miller
A talking beer tap being mean to T.J. Miller? Sure, I can dig that.
Kia: “Walken Closet”
I don’t care. I love this commercial. It’s entirely based on Christopher Walken’s line reading of “They have piz-AZZ.” Disagree if you must.
Doritos: Dogs in trench coats
Serious question: Why even spend the money on a Super Bowl ad if you’re not planning to pile up three dogs inside a trenchcoat and have them pretend to be a human?
NoMore.org: Domestic violence PSA
This is year two of the NFL working with NoMore.org to raise awareness about domestic violence. Given the past year or two of headlines the NFL has been dealing with, it seems like the least they could do.
Pantene: “Strong Is Beautiful”
This is goddamn adorable.
Beyoncé: Formation World Tour Announcement
You could do a lot worse than 30 seconds of Beyonce and explosions. Not just for Super Bowl commercials, either. Just, like, in general.
T-Mobile: Drop the Balls
This commercial gets points for T-Mobile taking blatant shots at a competitor. More commercials should be about massive telecommunications companies calling each other liars. Keep things testy.
This is weird, obviously. But picture this…
AGENT: Trevor, baby. Good news and bad news. Mostly good. You’re up for a Super Bowl commercial!
TREVOR: Wow, for what?
AGENT: Ahhh, we’ll get to that in a bit. This is a time for celebrating!
TREVOR: God, 100 million people looking at this face. And Mrs. Plemons said I’d never amount to anything!
AGENT: You did it, baby!
TREVOR: I did it!
AGENT: Hey, real quick, you went to drama school, right?
TREVOR: Yup. Why?
AGENT: You think you can pull off “sad Oxycontin addict who hasn’t had a bowel movement in over a week?”
TREVOR: Wait a second…
Acura NSX: “What He Said”
This commercial is, like, fine, but it’s way funnier if you pretend this guy is masturbating to the car and these are the noises he makes when he has an orgasm.
Adobe: “The Gambler”
Given what a crap show — quite literally! — this year’s crop of ads were, Adobe almost looked clairvoyant with this spot. Based on nothing but the audio, the fake reggae cream cheese commercial would been in the top ten percent of ads this year.
Advil: Distant Memory
Feels like, in hindsight, Advil could have gotten more traction with, “Our pain medicine won’t make you constipated and sad.” Live and learn.
Amazon Echo: “Baldwin Bowl Party”
Alec Baldwin has basically become Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock. Not necessarily a complaint.
Audi R8: “Commander”
“Is your grandpa a depressed former astronaut? Boy, do we have good news for you…”
Avocados: Avocados in Space
AVOCADO MARKETING GUY: Okay, what do we got?
SECOND AVOCADO MARKETING GUY: … Alien space museum?
AVOCADO MARKETING GUY: Baio in there?
SECOND AVOCADO MARKETING GUY: Oh, definitely.
AVOCADO MARKETING GUY: Terrific.
Axe: “Find Your Magic”
Axe! Not just for douchebags anymore! Still for douchebags, though! Just not douchebags, exclusively!
Bud Light: Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen for Bud Light Party
To be fair, everyone does love Paul Rudd.
Budweiser: “Not Backing Down”
Incoming history joke…
Buick: The Big Day
Best part of this commercial is picturing a single bridesmaid at this wedding who watched internationally famous model Emily Ratajkowski make a diving, one-handed bouquet catch and is now stewing about it, mumbling, “She didn’t need that bouquet to find a husband! She’s Emily Ratajkowski!”
Butterfinger: “Bolder Than Bold”
We’re supposed to be impressed by a guy jumping out of a plane on a bull almost a full year after Dominic Toretto and his crew of street racers turned high level government agents skydived in souped-up muscle cars in Furious 7. Pfft.
Coca-Cola: Hulk vs. Ant-Man
The problem here is that a mini-Coke isn’t nearly enough soda for Hulk and it’s way too much soda for Ant-Man. No one’s satisfied here! And Ant-Man might be in a diabetic coma!
Colgate: Every drop counts
It’s always weird to see serious ads about water shortages in between others about sad astronauts and bowel problems. It’s good, and true, and a nice reminder about how lucky we all are, so thanks, Colgate. But it is weird.
If there’s one thing scientists can agree on, universally, it’s that fetuses love Doritos.
Esurance: Pass It On Sweepstakes
Bring back Erin Esurance.
The woman in the fancy dress who is also a martial arts expert? Let’s all go ahead and agree that she’s a spy.
Hyundai: “The Chase”
Starting your car by talking into your watch seems very helpful if you’re running from a bear, but picture yourself using it in real life. Who do you think you are? Knight Rider?
Hyundai: “First Date”
Nice to see Kevin Hart getting work. Good for him.
So, the premise here is that the driver is distracted because everyone in this town looks like Ryan Reynolds and she’s overwhelmed by the handsomeness, but it seems like the more distracting thing should be that everyone in this town looks like Ryan Reynolds. What kind of X-Files alien hellscape is this? What do the Reynolds want from us? What is their objective?
Intuit: Death Wish Coffee
Swallowing a ship filled with Vikings actually seems like a decent analogy for what drinking two cups of hyper-caffeinated coffee would do to your insides.
Jack in the Box: Declaration of Delicious
Imagine how confused you’d be if you were out for a run and a giant puppet dressed like George Washington showed up on a boat loaded with thousands of hamburgers. Really think about it a bit.
Jeep: “4x4ever” and “Portraits”
“We don’t make Jeeps. You do.” Jeep! This is a terrible business plan. You guys have so much experience making Jeeps. I’ll just screw it all up!
LG: “The Man From the Future,” featuring Liam Neeson
It took about 15 seconds for me to confirm that this was a commercial for a television and not a trailer for a Tron like movie about Liam Neeson recruiting a rebellious motorcycle dude to overthrow a corrupt organization. Interesting strategy.
Marmot: Love the Outside
I liked when the guy got slapped.
Michelob Ultra: “Breathe”
God bless Michelob Ultra for sticking with their “It’s practically Gatorade!” marketing strategy.
Mini: “Defy Labels” with Serena Williams
Correct me if I’m wrong, but that little girl seems way too young to be driving this car. I don’t care if she is a single, young professional at age 12. Laws are laws, Missy.
Mobile Strike: Arnold’s Fight
NFL: “Super Bowl Baby Choir,” featuring Seal
Here’s the full-length commercial for those Super Bowl baby choir spots that ran throughout the night. I enjoy the premise: Your parents got super horny because of football so now you’re all singing “Kiss From a Rose” from the Batman Forever soundtrack. Seems reasonable.
PayPal: There’s a New Money in Town
I have yet to figure out what PayPal has to do with kickboxing in a dingy gym, but I’ve never been much of a “techie,” so…
Pepsi: Joy of Pepsi, featuring Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe travels through time drinking Pepsi. Sure.
Persil: America’s #1 Rated
How much money do you think Montell Jordan has made from royalties on commercials using “This Is How We Do It” in the past 18 months? Gotta be eight-figures, minimum.
Pokémon: 20th anniversary
Pokémon is turning 20, which is weird, because it means the 5-year-old you used to babysit for in 1996 is now 25. He probably has a job and everything. He might even make more money than you do.
This is unsettling.
Schick: Robot Razors
Thanks, but I’ll just stick with a razor that doesn’t turn into a violent death-obsessed robot every time I leave the bathroom.
SoFi: Great Loans for Great People
It’s… fine. It’s fine. It just doesn’t really feel like a Super Bowl commercial, does it? It feels like it could be an ad that runs during literally and golf tournament.
Squarespace: Real talk with Key and Peele
I feel like if you already liked Key and Peele, you liked this ad, and if you didn’t know who they were, you were totally lost. Maybe not ideal!
SunTrust: “Hold Your Breath”
Could have really benefited from a talking animal.
T-Mobile: “Restricted Bling”
You know what? This commercial had no right to be any good, but then Drake went ahead and sold the hell out of it. Good on you, Drake.
Taco Bell: Bigger Than…
Taco Bell will kill us all one day and we will love it.
TurboTax: Never a Sellout
Never thought I’d say this, but Anthony Hopkins totally ripped off Wayne’s World.
Victoria’s Secret: “Score More”
Legit feel like the red team in the underpants game could have moved the ball better than either team in the real game.
See, you thought they weren’t gonna sneak a dog into this one, then bam, dog in the trunk. I knew you wouldn’t let me down, WeatherTech, whatever you are.
Wix.com: Kung Fu Panda
“Hey, let’s have that topically relevant cartoon advertise our website.”
“That was easy.”
“Yeah, let’s just look busy for the rest of the week so no one gives us new work.”
Mountain Dew Kickstart: “Puppymonkeybaby”
No! No, Mountain Dew! Stop it right now!
Jublia: Secret Football Lounge
The year is 2016 and Deion Sanders is making commercials for toenail fungus medicine.
Skittles: “The Portrait,” featuring Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler commissioned a talking portrait of himself made out of Skittles and then he hated it so much he made it destroy himself with a note he hasn’t been able to hit in 10+ years. That’s what happened here.
Snickers: Willem Dafoe as Marilyn Monroe
One day these Snickers ads are going to go too far. You wait.
Quicken Rocket Loans: “What Were We Thinking?”
“Hey, remember how the economy went to hell because everyone was getting mortgages too easy?
“Let’s make it faster.”
Apartments.com: “Movin’ On Up”
The only thing that could have saved this is a dancing Sherman Hemsley hologram.
Dollar Shave Club: Zeke
$5 million for this.
Honda Ridgeline: The one with the singing sheep
The rare situation where not even a talking dog can save a commercial.
Xifaxan: Gut Guy
No one hallucinated this. There was a commercial featuring an anthropomorphic pink digestive system that had to leave a football in a rush because he had diarrhea. The rest of the stands were filled with humans. None of whom batted a confused eyelash at the pink bowels hopping nervously toward the bathroom. Do… do they know him? Is he famous? I either must know much more or much, much less about this, as soon as possible.