Super Bowl LVII delivered and so did the commercials. Here’s a list of the 10 best:
1. The Farmer’s Dog: “Forever”
Dogs make everything better, and America is a pooch-loving country. There’s a reason why we have a Puppy Bowl and Jimmy Fallon uses puppies to predict the Super Bowl winner every year. The Farmer’s Dog, a premium dog food company, warmed our hearts with an ad that takes us through major life milestones. We see a puppy and a young girl together from the start and watch them grow up together. It’s undeniably sweet and accompanied by the soulful sound of “Forever” by Lee Fields. This is everything that a great commercial should be because it’s selling the emotion of what it feels like to have a companion who stands by you every step of the way.
2. Busch Beer: “The Busch Guide/ Shelter”
Credit Sarah McLachlan for making fun of herself. The Grammy-award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter became a superstar in the 1990s. She was also well-known for those depressing American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals public service announcement ads which ran in the 2000s with her hit song “Angel” playing the background. Those commercials were sad but highly effective, raising $30 million. According to the ASPCA, it was the non-profit’s most successful fundraising effort. So, why not spoof those ads by making them the punchline of a joke in a beer commercial? Plus, in the spirit of McLachlan, the Busch announced that it will donate $25,000 to the reforestation charity One Tree Planted. Well played, Busch. Well played.
3. Booking.com: “Somewhere, Anywhere”
It’s February, and we’re all ready for winter to be over and are already dreaming about summer vacations. After watching this, someone needs to create a Melissa McCarthy musical now because this is great. A commercial that doesn’t feel like a commercial. Instead, it gives off movie trailer vibes for a film you can’t wait to see. The bright colors and music capture the joy of being on vacation, and McCarthy seems like she’s having a blast. The landscape architect joke is pretty good and goes by so fast, you might miss it. It also makes use of McCarthy’s gift for physical comedy as she bounces off the bed in a hotel room. We need more McCarthy in our lives.
4. Google: “Fixed On Pixel”
Here’s an excellent example of how to use celebrities. It’s hard to imagine Amy Schumer, Doja Cat, and Giannis Antetokounmpo appearing at the same party, let alone in the same ad. However, they got together to inform you that Google Pixel 7 phones can solve one of your biggest nuisances: photo bombers. Everyone has had an experience of taking a great pic only to have it ruined by a jackwagon in the background. If cropping the pic doesn’t solve the issue, Google can erase someone from the shot. Antetokounmpo enjoys the funniest moment when he immediately removes himself from a photo of being dunked on by Jaylen Brown. The rare Super Bowl commercial that appeals to everyone.
5. General Motors: “Why Not an EV?”
The General Motors-Netflix partnership seems like the most unexpected we’ve seen. For GM, the benefits are obvious in terms of getting more exposure to sell their cars. However, what does Netflix get out of it? I guess access to more vehicles for their shows, which in turn cuts down on production costs. In any case, GM enlisted the help of Will Ferrell, and he provides some hilarious scenes by appearing in some of Netflix’s signature shows like Stranger Things, Squid Game, and Bridgerton. The sight of Ferrell dressed as Dustin from Stranger Things and arguing with Erica is fabulous.
6. Pepsi: “Great Acting or Great Taste? Ben Stiller”
Full disclosure: We loved this as soon as we saw Derek Zoolander (“The real is real!”). We would have been totally on board with making the ad nothing but Zoolander references. But even without that, this is a glorious meta take on the self-seriousness of acting. Comedians are never fully appreciated for their acting chops, which is why the Academy Awards rarely recognize comedies. There are two versions of the Pepsi Zero Sugar ad, one with Steve Martin and the other with Ben Stiller. The Stiller one is better primarily because he delivers funnier lines, poking fun at romcoms, sci-fi, and (possibly) The Revenant.
7. Pop Corners: “Breaking Bad”
Using characters from a beloved TV show to shill snacks? We’ll allow it. The final episode of Breaking Bad aired in 2013. Still, this was probably the most anticipated Super Bowl ad. Ever since it was announced that Walt and Jesse would reunite for this spot, many people couldn’t wait to see it. The ad delivers fan service with some of the show’s most memorable quotes worked into the dialogue. Walt delivering the line “Say. Their. Name.” is amusing. The tagline “Break into Something Good” feels forced. But overall, it’s a cool trip down memory lane as diehards reminisce about a drama that continues to have a cultural impact.
8. Bud Light: “Hold”
One of the better ways to sell a product or service is to tap into a common pain point. Being on hold for customer service has always been a drag, Since the start of the pandemic, wait times have increased, leading to annoyance and dissatisfaction. But what if we could turn the frustration into an opportunity for jubilation? Actors Miles Teller, his wife Keleigh Sperry, and their dog Bugsy star in this simple yet creative commercial as they pass the time by dancing and enjoying a Bud Light. Moonwalk your way to happiness. Heck, this idea might become a trend in more households. Groove on.
9. Peacock: “Poker Face”
Peacock came up with something original in a crowded field. Meet the Super Bowl ad that pokes fun at Super Bowl ads. Natasha Lyonne is in her cynical element. She plugs her new streaming mystery-drama Poker Face, created by Rian Johnson. In the show, her character can tell if someone is lying. The ad does a great job of telling you what you need to know. Lyonne’s character Charlie Cale solves crimes with her unusual skill. But in the commercial, she uses her talent to expose the untruths we see in Super Bowl ads. Clever. Bravo.
10. Downy Unstopables: “Call Me Downy McBride”
Admittedly, this is kind of dumb. But we here at Awful Announcing will always have a soft spot for Danny McBride, who can make almost anything funny. The only major criticism is that the attempt to hide his identity in earlier spots leading up to this was a miss due to McBride’s immediately recognizable voice. As far as the Super Bowl commercial goes, it’s an enjoyable romp of McBride’s speeding through the neighborhood on a pimped-out golf cart spreading the joy of Downy Unstopables by using a t-shirt gun launcher. It’s not groundbreaking stuff. But it’s simple and silly. Sometimes that’s the best way to go.
Squarespace: “The Singularity”
In fairness to Squarespace, there were no terrible national commercials this year. However, you kind of expected more for a spot with Adam Driver. It’s not particularly memorable or interesting, and it leaves the viewers feeling cold. There’s no payoff other than the obvious: Driver looks fantastic in a suit. That’s probably enough for the likes of some, like John Oliver.
[Photo Credit: The Farmer’s Dog]