It’s time for the Super Bowl again, this time with the Denver Broncos going against the Carolina Panthers in the first ever Super Bowl without a Roman numeral. Thank goodness for logic prevailing on Super Bowl 50 instead of Super Bowl L.
Of course, with every Super Bowl comes a plethora of new ads, this year coming in at $5 million per 30-second spot on CBS. Last year on NBC, the ads ran $4.5 million for 30 seconds.
There have been plenty of teasers leading up to the big game, and many ads have already been released. We’ve got more than 40 here that are teasers and/or the actual SB ads themselves, so you can judge how clever they are for yourself. A few more won’t be revealed until the actual game to avoid spoilers (What is the new product Taco Bell is unveiling???) and we will update with the new commercials once we get them.
A few regular Super Bowl advertisers, such as GoDaddy and Nationwide, will not have ads this year. Nationwide, which had the most controversial ad last year showing the death of a young boy, probably is not running an ad more because spokesman Peyton Manning is in the big game rather than backlash from the poorly received ad.
So on with the show in no particular order, beginning with our usual favorite, Doritos.
For the last 10 years, Doritos has given $1 million to the winner of its “Crash the Super Bowl” Contest, allowing aspiring film makers to create ads for its product. There have been some memorable ones in years past, and this year’s three finalists are all pretty good. I’m kind of partial to the Ultrasound one as it seems to fit with previous years, although give the Swipe for Doritos one credit for a little star power with Doris Roberts owning the Doritos. The actual winner will be shown during the Super Bowl.
Swipe for Doritos
The teaser alone is a classic. Casting Willem Dafoe as Marilyn Monroe without her Snickers is a stroke of genius. The teaser was an excellent start, but then to go to the filming of the classic “wind up the skirt” shot showing Dafoe’s legs in the main ad … stuff of nightmares. This is another excellent example of old footage used, similar to what was done with last’s year’s Brady Bunch Snickers ad with Danny Trejo.
Happy Birthday Teaser
Kia – Walken Closet
Christopher Walken has a very unique delivery style and any ad with his presence is usually a win. Add in the play on words with his last name and him talking about socks and sock puppets before getting to the final (and actually more boring) part of the car ad was pretty well done. Overall a win for Kia here.
Coca-Cola – Coke Mini
Coke decided to star Ant-Man with the Coke Mini (see what they did there?) with an appearance by Bruce Banner’s Hulk who gets upset when he loses the last Coke to the minuscule marvel. It was kind of a clever ad, especially when Hulk can’t open the small can. Definitely a departure from Coke’s previous feel-good ads and sharing their beverage with everyone. Good, but not great.
PayPal – There’s A New Money in Town
With the changing face of the economy, PayPal makes a good point on old money versus new money and the 24-hour nature of the global financial exchange. It is the first time PayPal has chosen to advertise in the big game, and the ad was subtle yet effective.
There has been a void since September with the loss of Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele on Comedy Central. But they bring their trademark wit to “Real Talk” commentary on the Super Bowl as broadcasters Lee and Morris. However, they can’t actually say “Super Bowl” so it be interesting to see what actual commentary comes from this. Oh, and the ad comes to us from SquareSpace, which creates websites … although you wouldn’t know it from the ad.
Real Talk Teaser
Bud Light – The Bud Light Party
With politics and primaries and caucuses at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year, it seems only fitting that comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan should be the ones pushing the Bud Light Party. And leave it to Rogan to drop a little off-color humor with the word “caucus.” A nice timely ad with a few spots worthy of a smile.
Budweiser usually runs several ads during the big game and this year is no different. What has changed however is that there are no cute dogs or American veterans this year.
Helen Mirren talks for a minute on drunk driving idiots. Hearing her go on in that delightful British accent about how useless and moronic drunk drivers are is a joy, especially when she punctuates it with the word “pillock” (look it up). Be responsible, don’t drink and drive after the Big Game. You don’t want Dame Helen berating you.
Not Backing Down
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Super Bowl without Budweiser’s trademark Clydesdales and the emphasis on how the company makes it beer. It is unapologetic in that fact, making sure to stress that the beer is not for everyone. It’s a straightforward ad and fits right in with the other commercials from the company.
Skittles – Portrait
Aerosmith front man Steve Tyler commissions a portrait made out of Skittles that can sing. Definitely wacky and worth a laugh, especially as Tyler encourages his portrait to keep raising the octaves of “Dream On” through the roof. Definitely much better than last year’s arm-wrestling.
Acura – What He Said
This is a car ad, pure and simple. No feel-good imagery, unless the look and sound of a cool sports car gets you going. Of course, having Van Halen’s “Runnin’ With the Devil” playing in the background gives this ad for the Acura NSX some bonus points. No pretense that lets you know what the ad is selling. Solid overall.
NFL – Super Choir Babies
This is actually a pretty cool ad where the NFL found that 9 months after a Super Bowl, fans of the winning team usually had a baby. Go figure. They gathered up kids from these families, dressed them in the winning NFL team’s gear and let them sing about the birds and the bees and their team’s victories. Props to the NFL for a bit of creativity.
Amazon is pushing Echo and Alexa, and they have Alec Baldwin doing it this year. The theme is that he is having a Super Bowl Party and he is going all out to make it a good one. In one ad, he gets a bit too clever with soft cheese, playing of the New England Patriots and Deflategate for a joke that falls as flat as the cheese.
In a couple of teasers to set up the party, Baldwin teams with former NFL great Dan Marino to help plan his party. Overall, decent spots, but nothing overly spectacular.
Pepsi – Joy of Pepsi
If you like musical spots through the years, then you will enjoy seeing Janelle Monae pop in and out of various musical numbers of the time. The theme is that through it all, Pepsi has been there. Being a Pepsi drinker, I can appreciate that, but the comercial itself was meh. Pepsi sponsored the Super Bowl half-time show again this year.
eSurance – Pass It On
eSurance offers people who retweet their ads during Super Bowl commercial breaks a chance to win $1 million. The scenes while people are “passing on” the football are pretty good. Interesting and slightly humorous, but not stellar – unless you are lucky enough to win the $1 million. Still not as good as last year’s “Sorta” ads with Bryan Cranston and Lindsay Lohan.
George Washington and Lil Wayne show up as George and Weezy is some early teasers for Apartments.com, with no real clue as to what is going on. It all gets tied together, however, in the big game ad that has Jeff Goldblum, with choir accompaniment, sings Movin’ On Up, the theme song from The Jeffersons. ah, yes, George and Louise (aka Weezy) Jefferson. Now it all makes sense. Funny stuff, but did anyone else keep thinking “Don’t look down, Jeff”? (yes, I know he wasn’t really up that high, but still …)
The Arrival Teaser
With tax season upon us, it makes sense that TurboTax would again have an ad in the big game. Sir Anthony Hopkins was excellent as a “no sellout” spokesman for the tax preparer, offering a humourous commercial that only he and maybe one or two other actors could pull off. While we didn’t know before the game that he was to be in the spot, we did know it wouldn’t be James Lipton, despite all his lobbying for it. The teaser itself is quite funny, and if the main ad was just as entertaining as last year.
Someone Else Teaser
Never a Sellout
Audi – The Commander
Nostalgic spot of a former astronaut who has lost the zest for life until he gets behind the wheel of an Audi R8. Coupled with the moving Starman from the dearly departed David Bowie, the ad could not be more perfect. As one who is getting older and looks back at past glories a bit, I can relate to the ad that is both touching and exhilarating at the same time. Sadly, I doubt I will be able to afford an R8 any time soon.
Schick Hydro – Robot Razors
This is a rather clever spot having a Transformers-Decepticon vibe to it as razors do battle for supremacy in the bathroom. Of course the Schick transformer wins, with his opponent collapsing into a heap of useless blades in the sink. A nice first ad for Schick.
Victoria’s Secret – Score More
While last year’s ad was about lingerie, this year, the Victoria’s Secret models keep it professional and stay in football gear. The Angels and Devils square off in a … aw who am I kidding. It’s good looking girls in football uniforms – form-fitting uniforms. Not quite the Lingerie Football League, but it is purely a chance for Victoria’s Secret to get their name out there during a prime time sporting event.
Avocados from Mexico – Avocados in Space
Avocados from Mexico ads tend to be a bit off-the-wall and this one is no different. Here, aliens tour an Earth Museum to discover the goodness of avocados and guacamole. There is a guest appearance by Scott Baio as his own exhibit, and an alien murder. It’s a quirky little ad and definitely a step up from last year’s “First Draft Ever” ad.
Axe – Find Your Magic
Embrace what is unique in yourself is the theme of this year’s ad. The company has rightly gotten away from the cornier ads of the past, which is a good thing. But this is not as good as last year’s “Make Love, Not War” ad that offered a ironic twist as it was concluding.
Colgate – Save Water
Water conservation is the topic of this simple ad from Colgate. which given the hot-button issue of the water problems in Flint, Michigan, makes this all the more on point. Save you water people, and a good message without hitting us over the head with toothpaste.
Death Wish Coffee – Storm’s a-Brewin’
Winner of Intuit’s “Small Business, Big Game” contest, this ad hails the “death as glory” Vikings rowing to their destiny in Valhalla. Pretty good, and even better when you throw in the ending. This ad should stay in the forefront of the minds of those battling Super Bowl hangovers the next day.
Heinz – Wiener Stampede
It’s a bunch of dachshunds wearing hotdog costumes making a run at people dressed as Heinz condiments. I can see the attempt at cute, but it comes across as more silly than clever.
Honda – A New Truck to Love
Featuring the new Honda’s new Ridgeline truck, a sheep choir and a talking dog show off the vehicle and its new audio system in the bed of the truck. OK. The choir angle was fun, but otherwise … no.
Hyundai shelled out quite a bit for three separate Super Bowl ads this year. All were quite well done.
The spot starts out as and adventurous race for survival. Thank goodness for the Elantra’s remote start system. It concludes with a rather humorous twist of talking bears. Good banter at the end, and a nice way to emphasize the feature.
In this spot, the 2017 Elantra is upstaged by Ryan Reynolds everywhere. It’s a darn good thing for the female occupants that the car has Pedestrian Detection and an Automatic Emergency Braking system. Again, another effective and funny way to advertise a feature of the car.
Perhaps the best of the bunch, Kevin Hart is a dad preoccupied with his daughter’s first date. Hyping the Car Finder feature on the 2016 Genesis, the ad plays on the emotions of every dad who has to see his daughter go out for the first time, hopefully without the extra obsession.
LG – The Man From the Future
Liam Neeson is back, this time for LG G6 OLED TV. Instead of being angry, he is a man from the future talking about the latest advancement in super flat screen televisions. It was a bit confusing and off the wall, and not really that great of an ad. A waste of Neeson’s star power.
Michelob Ultra – Breathe
Directed by Antoine Fuqua of Training Day fame, the ad says it is for those that go the extra mile. The ad has already gotten a plenty of exposure before the Super Bowl as a pre-roll running before many of the YouTube videos. Lots of play, little to argue with, but just average.
Mini USA – Defy Labels
Serena Williams, Abby Wambach, T-Pain, Randy Johnson, Tony Hawk, and Harvey Keitel, among others show up in this spot for the Mini, telling everyone to defy labels. It is a fairly effective ad given the popularity of a somewhat unconventional brand. Compared to the other car ads, this one was pretty good.
Mountain Dew – PuppyMonkeyBaby
Puppies, monkeys and babies. Three awesome things combined into a weird abomination to advertise the new line of Kickstart drinks from Mountain Dew. What makes this ad effective is the visual combined with the constant hilarious repetition of PuppyMonkeyBaby by the … thing. I can see this ad sticking around for awhile, or at least Mountain Dew keeps the mascot.
The Longest Chase
Toyota is apparently trying to work against the existing image of the Prius by making it a totally badass getaway vehicle after bank robbers get their car towed. This actually works quite well and even chuckle-worthy in a few spots. Definitely the best of the two Prius ads.
Heck on Wheels
Rockin’ out for the new Prius with some good music and some funny visuals, this ad is a bit of a sleeper. I didn;t want to like it, but I still came away with a smile on my face. I’ll never own a Prius, but the ad was good.
FitBit – Dualities
This ad for the FitBit Blaze was rather clever using the juxtaposition of every day activities with work out regimens and staying in shape. Again, it doesn’t hit you over the head with the product, but still gets it point across in a subtle yet effective way.
Pokemon – Train On (Extended Cut)
We already discussed this ad when it was first released. It starts like a Nike ad, but ends as a real-life Pokemon battle. Not bad.
Quicken Loans – What We’re Thinking
Quicken Loans wants to talk about its Rocket Mortgage program by explaining “What if we did for home loans what the Internet did for buying music, plane tickets and shoes?” Eh, ok. If you’re in the mood for a mortgage, you’ll pay attention, I guess. I went to the kitchen.
Shock Top – Unfiltered Talk (Extended Cut)
Comedian T.J. Miller goes toe-to-peel with the Shock Top mascot trading insults. Forced, contrived and even a bit irritating. I found the other Shock Top ads a bit more entertaining than this one.
SoFi – Great Loans for Great People
Do you have greatness in you? While I understand the premise of this – picking out the great from the ordinary – it struck me as a bit insulting using money or your credit score for that matter to determine your worth. Probably overthinking it a bit, as the commentary was quick and clever, but I was turned off by it.
SunTrust – Hold Your Breath
SunTrust wants to relieve your financial stress and give you financial freedom. Of course, I don’t have to hold my breath to feel what financial stress is like. No discussion at all of how SunTrust will accomplish this other than the required action of going to onup.com. I wasn’t motivated to do so.
Drops The Balls
This one is good. Steve Harvey continues to let ads poke fun at his Miss Universe gaff, but this time T-Mobile lets him exalt that Verizon got the ad that the commercial is based on wrong. Poor Steve. He’s so happy that this one isn’t his fault. Nice job by T-Mobile and Harvey.
Drake is doing a video called “Hotline Bling” but he is interrupted by his wireless execs wanting to change everything. Obviously you don’t get what you ask for, and Drake is fairly funny is letting it happen. This ad is OK, but I actually enjoyed the T-Mobile ads from last year more. As an aside, you might recognize actor Jerry Lambert (aka Sony’s Kevin Butler) as one of the execs
Wix.com – Start Stunning
This Kung Fu Panda 3-themed ad is clever, spoofing classic Super Bowl commercials of the past, including the Bud Frogs and the Old Spice guy. Two ads in one really and quite effective. Wix has a good ad agency, as last year’s ad was fairly good as well.
Mobile Strike – Arnold’s Fight
Another teaser for the as yet unrevealed Super Bowl ad, this own featuring Arnold getting into a brawl, which keeps with the them of the mobile video game. Arnold has been the main spokesman for Mobile Strike the way Kate Upton was for game of War last year. These ads are OK, but very low on the smile meter.
WeatherTech – Resources
The ad plays off the desire for American companies to use American workers, something that has been a hot topic in many of the presidential debates and discussions. WeatherTech plays off that an ad about the workforce that builds its products. Not spectacular, but it gets the message across for a company not that well known to the average consumer.
Jack in the Box – Declaration of Delicious
Eh, it’s Jack as George Washington crossing the Delaware to bring burgers to waiting Americans. Not sure if it is clever or not, but it is definitely not one of the better ads in this group … unless you are hungry.
And of course, what would a Super Bowl be without movie trailers, including Deadpool, which is out next week. Most of these are teasers, with the real ad debuting during the game. There are also rumors of ads coming for Zootopia, Zoolander 2, Bourne 5, X-Men: Apocalype, Independence Day: Resurgence and The BFG.