Super Bowl XLVIII: Battle of the Epic Commercials

These ads made us laugh, tugged at our heartstrings, or just wasted our time.

The Super Bowl is often the highest-rated event on television, and part of the reason why so many tune in to see it is the new commercials. Advertisers spent an estimated $4.5 Million for their thirty seconds of airtime, and many of them tried to surprise us, be inspiring, or just make us laugh.

While it was far from being the best Super Bowl ever, this year’s crop of ads can best be divided into certain themes. Here is PopMatters’ guide to great moments, big laughs, and some completely overblown time-wasters.


Best in Show

Radio Shack gets a surprising phone call in this salute to the 1980’s that features Alf, Hulk Hogan, the California Raisins, Chucky, Dee Synder, and “Working for the Weekend”. The next time you see this commercial, it’ll be during The Goldbergs.

Volkswagen’s German engineers with “wingy thingys” technically debuted during a CBS special about the best Super Bowl ads, but it was still funny. It might be too silly for some, but I think it was cute.

One of the most surprisingly funny spots of the night goes to this look at the life of a fan whose team didn’t make it to the big game. Sean does seem awesome, but what this has to TurboTax is beyond me.

Everyone loves puppies, and Clydesdales. So when we see this sweet story of friendship between a little lab and a big horse, we really aren’t thinking about football or major advertisers anymore. Hopefully, we instead find ourselves thinking about the special animals we’ve befriended.



Many movie spots made their debut last night, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Noah, Need For Speed, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Transformers: Age Of Extinction. In today’s YouTube era, these television trailers don’t pack as much punch as they used to.


I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Into Here

Everybody loves the Muppets. Even Terry Crews after they highjack his Toyota. Or was that a dream sequence?

Stephen Colbert shelled out two ads for Wonderful Pistachios. The eagle in a suit was adorable, but it would have been cooler if he had something to do.

It isn’t true that most supervillains are British, and they don’t exclusively drive Jaguars, but Sir Ben Kingsley and Tom Hiddleston certainly seem to think so.

Jason Stratham likes to fight. He mostly likes to watch videos using Xfinity on his tablet, but he also fights a lot.

Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt spokesman John Stamos was joined by former Full House castmates Bob Saget and Dave Coulier, but the result wasn’t very funny or interesting.

Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Wayne Knight, and Jason Alexander reunite in this recap of all the Seinfeld episodes that don’t exist. Unless you were a big fan of the show, this Crackle.com ad was about nothing.

SodaStream’s heavily-hyped ad starring Scarlett Johansson was rather dull. The original ad was supposedly banned because Coke and Pepsi were mentioned by name, so we got this lame footage of Scarlett sipping through a straw to sultry music.

Extended Cut

Many commercials had sequels, returning during the same break to further prove their point. Bud Light spent a lot of time on the “crazy” adventures of a guy “who doesn’t know he’s in an ad”. After meeting a llama, identical twins, Don Cheadle, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and OneRepublic: we were left wondering: who cares?

T-Mobile wants you to know what Tim Tebow has been up to this football season. While he was delivering babies, rescuing puppies, rocking out, and floating in space in two separate commercials, they were trying to sell cell phones.

Ford Fusion wants us to know that no Super Bowl advertiser has ever done two commercials in a row before. The result featured Rob Riggle, James Franco, a tiger, doves, and jet planes, but it was a big blah.

Maserati had a little girl narrate vaguely inspiring words over footage of tornadoes and ballerinas, but it didn’t really go anywhere.


Proud to Be an American

MetLife brought the Peanuts gang together with Schroder’s sweet rendition of “America”. It was patriotic and adorable.

Coca-Cola sang “America The Beautiful” in different languages. It comes off as a little disingenuous instead of being as inspiring as “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” was.

Bob Dylan narrated this tribute to American ideas, celebrities, and Chrysler automobiles.


Make ‘Em Laugh

Audi’s “Doberhuahua” was one of the best commercials of the night. It was easy to remember what the advertiser’s point was, featured a celebrity cameo, and was actually funny. Not to mention, Doberhuahuas look adorable.

Doritos’ contest winners were this bit about a “time machine” and a little girl saddling up a large dog to rope up some snacks. These are okay, but they aren’t as funny as the ostrich spot that didn’t make it to air.

Rock ‘N’ Bowl

We’ve all seen these kind of truck commercials before, where a cowboy drives along a dusty road. But wait a minute, isn’t that Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” playing in the background? It is! And this is a commercial about cow dating!

H&M’s annual David Beckham ad may have been a little sexist and exploitative, but The Human Beinz’s “Nobody But Me” is always awesome.

Johnny Galecki is either trying to flirt with a woman or complement her Hyundai. We’re too busy listening to ELO’s “Evil Woman” to care.

Ellen DeGeneres stars as a Beats Music searching goldilocks in this nod to fairy tales. Wouldn’t “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)?” been the obvious song choice here?


More Than Just a Game

The most refreshing trend of Super Bowl XLVIII was the commercials who reminded us of worthy causes. Bank Of America wants you to know that they will donate one dollar to the RED AIDS charity for every free iTunes download of U2’s “Invisible”. Let’s make this a No.1 song right now.

Budweiser’s famous Clydesdales help welcome home 1st Lt. Chuck Nadd of the US Army. The best part of this ad was seeing him sitting in the stands immediately after the commercial break was over.

Steve Gleason narrated Microsoft’s inspiring look at how technology can change our lives for the better. It’s nice to know that there is much more to electronics than smaller phones and faster videos.

Chevy’s long drive reminds us of their #PurpleYourProfile foundation for cancer patients and survivors.

Bruce Willis’ Honda commercial reminds us what’s really important in life and asks us to hug our loved ones. I didn’t really notice what Fred Armissen had to do with anything, because I was too busy hugging my family.


Funny Ha Ha, or Funny Strange?

What is terrifying these shoppers at a convenience store? It was a bear who just wanted some Chobani yogurt. Were you expecting something else, too?

Laurence Fishburne sings opera in this Matrix-inspired Kia spot. Big budget, low payoff.

GoDaddy mostly steered clear of their annual obnoxious Danica Patrick ads, in favor of highlighting a new small business. Gwen seems to make high-quality puppets.

We’ve seen the yellow M&M get kidnapped all week long, so that built up to nothing. It turned out that a nefarious-looking rich guy wanted to put him in ice cream. Surprisingly, this was not a commercial for M&M’s ice cream.

Axe is more of a lover than a fighter. Is this really something you want to hear from a deodorant company?