I usually live stream my impressions of superbowl ads on the Aunt Mary Facebook Page, but this year I decided to actually join the party I was at and jot down the commercials in my kid’s old English notebook. I enjoyed hearing fellow sportsball fans’ reactions to the different ads and I found the time to reflect on the offerings made the highs and lows between the ads stand out.
Bud Light: I’m probably alone in this, but I’m not a huge fan of the Bud Light Dilly Dilly ads. I respect they are going back to their roots of funny, quotable commercials (Bud-weis-er…Wassup!) But if find these ads to be a bit too contrived, like a former rock star trying to reignite the past…
The first of Bud’s two ads, called “Ye Olde Pep Talk” shows the Dilly Dilly king giving one of the worst inspirational speeches of all time at the beginning of a battle. He finally brings it back around by telling his subjects their opponents have Bud Light.
The 2nd ad features the Bud Light Knight, an affable guy who’s just down for a good time. The BLK was also seen cavorting in the stands with jolly sports fans during the game.
Michelob Ultra – Everyone has followed Chris Pratt’s transformation to an adorable goofball with the rock-hard bod, so who could be a better spokesperson for a brand geared towed the carb conscience set?
In ad 1 Chris trains hard for his part in a Mich Ultra ad, only to find out he has been cast as an extra.
Ad 2 shows hard body-gym rats working out while singing Tom T Hall’s classic “I Like Beer.” After a moment you realize Chris Pratt actually IS an extra in the ads, sort of like a boozy game of Where’s Waldo.
Ram 1500– Actual Vikings headed to super bowl via long ship while towing a Ram behind. They reach Minnesota only to have or turn around as they discover the Vikings aren’t playing. Visually compelling, great music, funny premise. I was both amused by the idea and a little sad at the Viking disappointment. The party I was at loved this commercial. Airing early in the game it set itself up as one to beat.
Tide. Nobody would have blamed Tide Detergent for using the largest TV platform to tell folks to just stop snacking on their pods. They shouldn’t have to make this announcement, but that’s 2018 for you. Instead, they upped their PR game with a series of three fun commercials featuring everyone’s favorite sheriff, David Harbour from Stranger Things.
1st ad – Do you remember that kid in school who would lick things to mark them as theirs? That’s sort of what Tide accomplished in the first of 3 ads to air. Tide declared any part of the Big Game that showed clean clothes was thanks to Tide. Every following commercial, every player, every spectator, every coach. If you saw clean clothes, that was a Tide commercial. This made it really awkward later when Persil’s ad aired. All I could think of was nice…but Tide got there first.
The 2nd ad for Tide – Can’t get enough of Harbour as he horns in on classic ads, this time on the loved “I’m on a horse” commercial from Old Spice. A complete turn from the first ad, fun!
3rd, reminded me of the old school Energizer Bunny ads where the bunny would drum his way through spoof commercials, but somehow Tide improved on the theme! Already made aware by the previous Old Spice spoof, this time Harbour nodded and winked at Clydesdale horses (who did not make a Budweiser ad appearance) and then LOOK, there they are again in a faux Mr. Clean spot.
E-Trade: I’ll admit to not being a fan of E-trades current campaign that hits a little too close to pre-Great Recession commercials. The entire campaign has a “get yours/easy money” vibe to it.
Even so, I really enjoyed their spot titled “This is Getting Old.” The ad shows a montage of should-be pensioners working a variety of jobs, including Life Guard, Window Washer, Tech Support and Club DJ to the tune of the Banana Boat Song, with the lyrics changed to “I’m 85 and I want to go home.” While the song and visuals are amusing, Etrade finally hard cuts to a card saying “Over 1/3 of Americans have no retirement savings. This is getting old.” Oh shit.
Verizon salutes first responders – I’m no fan of glurge, but I have to admit Verizon’s “Answering the Call” ad was incredibly moving. Showing images of natural disasters and emergency rescues, the voice over of the ad was of real people thanking the first responders who saved them. In the last seconds of this full minute spot we are shown the Verizon logo, and their tag of “America’s most reliable network.” Small, but hard-hitting hint that you need confidence in your network when stuff goes down.
Pringles – Bill Hader (Stefon from SNL) says “Wow”… a lot. He says it in multiple accents as he marvels at a guy making different flavor profiles by stacking Pringles. This commercial is fine…it’s fine! It shows folks a new way to use their product (we’re like those jelly beans!) which is solid marketing. The one thing that moves this past the forgettable is Bill screaming “Nobody asked you, Kevin!” at a stunt double dangling from the ceiling who also pipes in his appreciation of Pringles. It’s weird, but oddly funny. I can totally see people repeating this catch phrase for some time.
Fabreze – Bleep Don’t Stink. Pretty straightforward idea from air freshener Fabreze: Here is this one guy whose crap don’t stink, but you have a bunch of folks over eating garbage food and you will wish you had something to make your bathroom smell better. This ad ran on, but yeah, it sure made it’s point.
Sprint – A scientist is thoroughly mocked by his robot creations for still using Verizon. It’s a striking commercial and the robots are interesting, but what pushed this onto the list for me is the final robot. Unlike the others who are laughing at the scientist’s illogical use of an inferior product, Final robot, who has evidently reached singularity, rocks up to tell the scientist he has a stupid face in a bit that seemed straight out of South Park.
Diet Coke “Because I Can” – Maybe I’m just not cool enough for this ad, but the commercial of actress Hayley Magnus narrating her awkward dancing after drinking a Mango Diet Coke left we with my head tilted and my brow furrowed in question. What the hell was that? Evidently it is supposed to be a highly shareable clip, but I can’t see where it will compel anyone to buy a Coke.
Ram Truck – Who could have known that using an iconic speech from one of America’s heroes to sell cars could cause people to be upset? (Everyone. Everyone knew that.) Using a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a commercial for cars is crass, no matter how you hype it. Yes, I understand that Dr. King’s estate had some hand in developing this commercial, but it still fell flat and left a sour taste in the mouth.
WeatherTech – Twenty of the 30 seconds allotted to this commercial are focused on building a wall. We come to find out it’s the wall to their new building. Setting aside the potentially devise theme, this commercial is boring. I’m sure you are excited about your new building, but nobody else gives a hoot. While I truly appreciate their devotion to making their product in the US, I felt like they went to a place they didn’t need to be. They make car floormats, not exactly an ensign of national pride, though WeatherTech Head Cheese swears no political message was intended.
Amazon – “Alexa Loses Her Voice.” Amazon may be one of the last groups that needs to advertise, they just reported their best ever quarter profits. Still, I appreciate they decided to make a great ad, seemingly just for the fun of it.
In the spot, Alexa, the voice of the Amazon Echo’s digital assistant, loses her voice, compelling celebrities to fill in. I’m not ashamed to say I actually laughed out loud as Cardi B mocked a student for asking about Mars and Rebel Wilson made dinner party guests very uncomfortable.
Doritos Blaze vs. Mountin Dew Ice
What more can I say but Peter Dinklage is in a rap battle with Morgan Freeman.
Thanks for joining me in looking into the Superbowl of advertising!