This past Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, but the popularity of the Super Bowl ad — a memorable, attention-grabbing commercial that advertisers pay massive amounts of money for — is a relatively recent phenomenon.
You could easily say that this year’s offerings were among the worst yet, with too many ad-makers cobbling together the same cliches of past successes (celebrity cameos, major special effects, cute animals, etc.) in ways that felt unoriginal and boring.
Still there were some commercials that probably put a smile on your face, so here is PopMatters countdown of the five best in show.
5. Honda Ridgeline – “A New Truck to Love”
This clip features a flock of sheep singing Queen’s “Somebody to Love”. That’s really all you need to know.
4. Doritos – “Doritos Dogs”
Continuing the oft-used theme of cute animals doing funny things is a look at a pack of dogs who are willing to go through a lot for their favorite snack. This commercial gets bonus points for not being dreamed up by an ad executive, but by a contest winner instead.
3. Coca-Cola – “Coke Mini (Hulk Vs. Ant-Man)
If there is only one 2016 Super Bowl commercial that will be remembered years from now, it’s this one, which stars Marvel superheroes Ant-Man and the Hulk.
2. Subaru – “Subaru Dog Tested (Puppy)”
The car maker continued their popular “dog tested” series with this sweet spot, in which a doting golden retriever parent helps its puppy fall sleep.
1. Apartments.com “Moving Day #MovinOnUp”
Jeff Goldbloom stars in this Jeffersons-themed ad that also features Lil’ Wayne and a fake seagull. It’s over-the-top and completely ridiculous, with a little hint of nostalgia, like most Super Bowl commercials should be.
Even in a crowd of a lot of mediocre time-wasters and a few winners, there were these head-scratchers that left us shaking our heads or especially underwhelmed.
5. Budweiser – “#NotBackingDown”
Everybody loves the Clydesdales. So why did Budweiser hide them in this completely average collage of images?
4. CBS – “CBS All Access Super Bowl 50 Commercial”
There is a right way to advertise the network that airs the big game (like the brief Elementary “waiting” spot), and there is a wrong way. This extremely corny, one-joke premise for CBS’ online service was just a waste of Marvin Gaye.
3. Butterfinger – “Butterfinger’s Bolder Than Bold Jump”
The candy company tossed a CGI bull and its rider out of an airplane for no apparent reason.
2. Bud Light – “The Bud Light Party”
Chances are, if you’ve watched any prime time TV over the past few days, you’ve seen the “teaser spot” for this, in which Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan squeezed themselves into girdles and control-top pantyhose. As disturbing as that commercial was, it had little to do with this boring clip, in which the two make a long-winded type of stump speech. Even the beer-maker’s closing slogan, “Raise One to Right Now” was ineffective.
1. Mountain Dew Kickstart – “Puppymonkeybaby”
What’s worse than sitting through Mountain Dew’s puppy-monkey-baby ad? Having to sit through it twice during the same game. The soda/energy drink-maker wants us to think of “awesome combinations”, but this weird-annoying-stupid spot is probably one of the worst Super Bowl commercials of all time.
Budweiser – “Give a Damn”
And finally, we came across a Super Bowl commercial that has boggled our minds so much that we can’t tell if it’s good or bad! Budweiser released an anti-drunk driving message starring Helen Mirren. On one hand, she makes a valid point, but isn’t some of this played for laughs? Do people actually remember and listen to the advice of commercials when they’re inebriated? If Budweiser really gave “a damn”, then why don’t they make non-alcoholic beer?