The Best, Worst, and Weirdest Ads from This Year's Super Bowl
Look, it's a famous person!
Another year, another crop of Super Bowl ads vying for brief fleeting moments of your attention in an overloaded media environment.
This year’s ads had a common theme: “You like famous people don’t ya?! Here they are! A ton of famous people! Are you not entertained??”
I know that at the end of the day we are talking about commercials that are trying to get you to buy light beer, but one reason I talk about the ads each year is because I believe in the artistry commercials can have (many beloved film directors of today got their start directing commercials and some still do). Given this, there’s something fairly depressing to me about Super Bowl ads that feel like all they need to do is shove a famous person on screen to get the audience to clap. In other words, imagine me, a grumpy old man, reading this paragraph saying “It used to be about the stories man!”
Last night, in lieu of live-tweeting my reactions, I decided to use Substack’s Chat feature to share my reactions in real time. Thanks to everyone who joined! If you want to join, just check out the “Chat” section in the Substack app. The below post compiles some of my reactions and adds a few more. Here are the best, worst, and weirdest ads from this year’s Super Bowl. And of course, let me know what you thought in the comments.
NOTE: I don’t include movie trailers in my rundowns since I generally don’t watch them nor do I consider them to be truly Super Bowl specific, but shout out to the new trailer for The Flash, which was much buzzed about last night (and seems to drop some major reveals from the film).
Amazon + Farmer’s Dog - Two of the best ads of the evening probably faked you out into thinking you were about to watch a dog die or get mistreated. Instead, they are both beautiful testaments to (wo)man’s best friend and the role they have in our lives. And the way they integrate their products are subtle but meaningful.
Uber One - I know I just gave a speech about how these ads had too many celebrities and not enough creativity but I enjoyed how Uber One integrated beloved pop stars into this ad with each one actually making weird, Uber-centric musical contributions. Or maybe I just miss hearing Donna Summer’s voice on the radio everyday.
Doritos + Jack Harlow - Some striking visuals in this ad which took Jack Harlow down a notch, spoke to one of Doritos’ enduring appeals, and featured a $1 million cameo from Elton John. Who could ask for more? (Also, it had some real Being John Malkovich vibes for me.)
Poker Face - This was a fun meta ad commenting on the other ads that we just saw during the Super Bowl. Poker Face is a great show and this captures the appealing dynamic of it.
Tubi Interface Interruption - I’m a sucker for a good ad that plays around with the format of ads themselves. This Tubi ad definitely made me do a double take. Great sound design too.
Workday - Putting this here solely because I also hate the use of the term “rock star” in corporate environments and sometimes an ad speaks directly to one of your pet peeves and you must pay it homage.
Bud Light - At last, the hold music that slaps finally gets the tribute it deserves. This ad was fun, delightful, and actually showed a plausible use of the product. One of my favorite Bud Light ads in awhile.
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He Gets Us - A mysterious organization named He Gets Us funded a pair of striking ads attempting to rebrand Jesus. The problem? It’s funded in part by people from Hobby Lobby and other wealthy evangelicals, who’ve advocated for some pretty un-Jesus-like things.
Look, I’m not saying Jesus wouldn’t spend $20 million on advertising during the Super Bowl. But I am saying if he did, he probably wouldn’t have some of the worst people imaginable going in with him on it.
Fanduel - Bizarre decision after bizarre decision in this ad. Gronkowki’s in the middle of the desert? Kicking a field goal? But he misses it? But his family’s happy about it? But it’s okay because you, the audience, still win? Just awful.
Squarespace’s Singularity - Adam Driver looks great and there’s some striking imagery here, but otherwise this ad doesn’t really make me want to pay for a monthly subscription to make myself a website.
M&M’s - I have no idea what’s going on here and I don’t care to find out. Maya Rudolph is a beloved figure (and I think it’s earned!) but this jokey rebrand of M&M’s as Ma and Ya’s followed by a reveal that they are now clam bites just left me feeling total confusion at what the objective was here.
Tubi Rabbit Hole - You know what makes me want to subscribe to a new streaming service? The idea of large people dressed in rabbit costumes picking me up and chucking me down holes! Not really, though.
What were your favorite and least favorite ads from last night?