The 2017 Super Bowl commercials covered a wide range of topics and styles. We had cars advocating fair employment practices, an injured egg telling people about taxes, alcoholic ghost dogs, and more. Some were even pretty good, which has been a rarity in recent years, in large part because it’s hard to find something that will please everyone, and if you try too hard you end up pleasing no one. A bunch of commercials fell into that trap, too. Rather than take you through them all one-by-one, however, I think the best course of action is to stick to highlights and lowlights.
Presented below, the best and worst of the 2017 Super Bowl commercials.
BEST: Adolphus Busch is Fievel Mousekewitz now
There were a bunch of politically slanted ads this year, from 84 Lumber’s partially rejected immigration story to Audi’s discussion of the wage gap, but the most notable was this one from Budweiser. In 60 seconds, it tells the abbreviated origin story of Adolphus Busch, starting with him coming to America and ending with him meeting Eberhard Anheuser in a bar. People got mad about it because it comes off pro-immigration at a time when that is a red-hot issue, but I’d like to pull back from that for a second to point out something else: It’s kind of just the plot of An American Tail, right? Like right down to the ocean-based disaster?
Anyway, the point here is that I would probably watch a full-length movie about Adolphus Busch, and I would especially watch it if Anheuser and Busch sing a drunken duet of “Somewhere Out There.”
WORST: The cell phones wars are now totally out of hand
T-Mobile ran a bunch of ads this year, featuring everything from a dancing Justin Bieber to a horny Kristen Schaal to the ad I’ve posted above, featuring Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart continuing their push to become America’s greatest comedy team. (This is still weird. If I had a time machine, explaining this to people in 1995 would be one of my favorite things to do.) The whole thing was… fine, and it wouldn’t have been noteworthy at all if it didn’t lead to the official, verified Verizon account tweeting this during the Super Bowl, which I will present without context.
What the hell are any of us doing?
BEST: Walken > Fatone
Until last night, I had never really considered the possibility of a spoken-word NSYNC greatest hits album by Christopher Walken. This morning, it is all I can think about. Actually, that’s not true. I am also thinking about an NSYNC reunion tour where Walken replaces Joey Fatone. And the ending of the game. And sexy Mr. Clean, which we’ll get to in a bit. I am thinking about a lot of things, to be honest.
WORST: Ghost Dog
Let’s take a second to dig into what’s happening here: There’s a dead party animal dog from the 1980s whose soul can’t rest unless people are drinking Bud Light, so he shows up and retroactively peer pressures some guy into drinking more. Like, I get it, yay Spuds, but that’s… that’s kinda dark, right? You probably thought Spuds was in party dog heaven, but instead he’s damned to an eternity of convincing strangers to drink more. Poor guy.
BEST: Rad Kangaroo
I know I just put Bud Light in the Worst category for arguably the same thing, but I don’t care. This is my list. Party Kangaroo goes in the Best. In all honesty, I was on the fence until he started DJing a rooftop party, but that swayed me because of this: Really think long and hard about how you would react if you showed up at a rooftop wine party and found out a rad kangaroo was responsible for the music. What would you do?
Great art makes you think.
WORST: Big gross eggs
I have been thinking about this a lot and I have decided that I do not want to think about an injured egg oozing yolk in a hospital while I am doing my taxes this year. I would like to think about, well, almost anything else, really. They should not have done this. It was gross and bad.
BEST: Buick has low self-esteem but a decent ad
Buick continued its “Can you even believe our cars aren’t crappy old boxes for your grandparents anymore?” campaign with this ad, featuring Cam Newton trucking kids in a youth football league. It’s a little bit of a rip-off of the Peyton Manning SNL sketch, but apparently I am a big old sucker for NFL players wrecking children, because I laughed harder at this than any other ad from the game.
WORST: This is not the real issue here, Febreze
My take: If your digestive system is such a mess that you find yourself repeatedly going number two during halftime of football games, maybe you should be investing in some Metamucil instead of Febreze. Get your life together, man. Eat some roughage. You’re not in college anymore.
Between this ad and the trailer for the new Fast and Furious movie, there was what can only be described as a dramatic uptick in Statham-related advertisements in this year’s event. This is not a complaint. Far from it, in fact. My hope is that next year — two years from now, max — he’ll just star in every Super Bowl ad. Every break, wall-to-wall Statham. Car ads, beer ads, maybe one in which he and Mr. Clean engage in hand-to-hand combat, etc. This is not an unreasonable request.
WORST: But why… why is Mr. Clean sexy?
[Mr. Clean Super Bowl commercial strategy session]
“So, what do we got?”
“Okay, what if Mr. Clean is sexy now?”
“I dunno. Just a thought.”
“Come on, Carl.”
[Two weeks later]
“Okay, we’re cutting it close here. We need an idea.”
“Did we rule out Sexy Mr. Clean?”
“Kk, just checking.”
[Last night before idea is due]
“Oh God, we’re gonna get fired. This is bad. Oh God. We have nothing.”
“Sexy Mr. Clean is still on the table.”
“Dammit, Carl… fine. Wait. How sexy are we talking here?”
“He shakes his bum around. Pretty sexy.”
“Ugh. Okay. Jesus Christ.”
This will haunt me.