The big game – and what a game it was – may be over, but the Best Ad competition is just getting started. Companies like Skittles, Audi, Frito-Lay, and Budweiser shelled out a record-setting $5.02 million just to secure a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl, nearly double the price tag from 2010. Think about that for a minute. The cost for 30 seconds of advertising actually exceeded the yearly salary for most players in the game, as only 14 players crossed the $5 million salary mark in 2016 (per Spotrac).
As viewers know, car and beer companies weren’t the only ones snatching up air time this year; we were also treated to several fantastic trailers and sneak peaks from big names like Stranger Things, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Transformers, The Walking Dead, and many more. These first looks, coupled with loads of clever commercials, made for quite the distraction from the game itself. That’s probably a good thing, as we’re betting the residents of Georgia might need a few distractions in the days to come.
Outside of all the trailers, however, we were gifted with a solid crop of memorable advertisements from outside the film and TV industry. With honorable mentions going out to Tide for Gronk’s Cleaner, Skittles for their Romance ad, and Febreeze’s Bathroom Break, here are The Best Super Bowl Commercials Of 2017.
Dishonorable Mention: Wonderful Pistachios – Treadmill
We get it — slapstick humor tends to do pretty well with sports fans. We’re just a bunch of beer-swilling cavemen, right? Wrong. Sort of. While most of us enjoy Charlie Chaplin-esque humor from time to time, we take our Super Bowl ads quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the Pistachios commercial feels like an insult to our intelligence. That’s saying a lot, by the way; we eat, sleep, and breathe pop-culture, and not all of what we write about is terribly high-brow.
But a talking elephant, on a treadmill? He’s not even running on all four legs like a real elephant. Why would this elephant need to lose weight? His only job is to be gigantic and use that strangely-dexterous, clearly sentient trunk of his to perform amazing feats. ALSO, elephants eat peanuts, not pistachios. Leap in logic notwithstanding, Wonderful just spent $166,666 per second for this awful spot. Nice work, lads.
Dishonorable Mention: Sprint – Daddy’s Dead
Imagine the pitch meeting for this commercial. Creative lead walks in, draws a family watching as a car falls off a cliff and bursts into fiery flames. Creative lead turns to the client, smiling. Big important client person says, “Nope. All wrong.” Creative lead looks to the drawing, back to the client, again to the drawing. He nods. “You’re absolutely right,” he says. “The flames are too much.”
Sprint’s commercial, which makes light of the drastic measures customers take to leave their Verizon contract behind, inexplicably aired multiple times during the big game. The slightly extended version of the ad that was released after the game isn’t a whole lot better. Dark humor is great — and the fact that Verizon’s Can You Hear Me Now guy works for Sprint these days is even greater – but the whole “Daddy’s dead” thing is too try-hard for our liking. Cell company ads were definitely not a strength of this year’s Super Bowl.
13. Squarespace – Who is John Malkovich
The legendary John Malkovich is comically perplexed in Squarespace’s 2017 Super Bowl spot, “Who is John Malkovich?” The 60-second ad makes all the right moves as it lands squarely at the intersection of comedy and reality, and John is his absolutely terrific best all the way through. Squarespace — an all-in-one publishing tools company — is urging viewers to get their own web domain and avoid the fate of poor Mr. Malkovich.
Hunched over his laptop, he wonders aloud, “How is it that John Malkovich.com is taken?” John is trying to buy a domain for his new clothing line (this is a real thing, by the way; he’s designing clothes now), and it seems like someone has beaten him to the punch. “But I’m him,” he utters in frustration. “There’s a film about me being me.” While some Super Bowl Sunday ads aim for belly laughs, Squarespace’s witty, dry entry goes entirely deadpan to get its point across while cleverly working in a Being John Malkovich reference that Spike Jonze fans are sure to love. Watching Malkovich quickly descend into burning rage is priceless.
12. Devour Frozen Meals – The Audition
Devour, the creator of obscenely tasty frozen meals, got all our motors running with their saucy 30-second ad, titled “The Audition.” Like a train wreck, we can’t seem to look away from Devour’s commercial; after just one bite of Devour Mac ‘n Cheese, Regular Joe transforms into a love machine. He drives all the casting agents wild, and Devour hits us with the least subtle motto of the century: Food You Want to Fork.
Think you’ve got what it takes to outdo that guy? If so, Devour is holding an open casting call on January 10th for male actors, non-actors, and “oddballs” between the ages of 25 to 42 to star in their next commercial. The individual who lands the role will be compensated $100,000 to work on the new ad spot, which is set to shoot January 14th–18th. We’re expecting America Idol-esque lines for this one, as open casting calls tend to bring out the crazies. Imagine who’ll show up for their shot at $100 grand! *Abandons desk, drives to Glendale for audition*
11. Buick – Not So Pee Wee Football
Buick’s Super Bowl spot is an easy target for the haters (especially on Twitter). Set during a pee-wee football game, the ad has a little kid transforming into Cam Newton and then dominating the rest of the field. His performance in the spot is a vast improvement from last year’s Super Bowl, where Newton was absolutely trounced by Von Miller and the rest of the Denver Bronco’s D in the actual game. Buick’s ad is actually a bit ironic; last year, Newton and the Panthers offense looked like a Pop Warner team playing against a grown men. It looks like Newton learned his lesson – and how to pick his opponents more wisely.
Besides Cam, the commercial also stars the gorgeous Miranda Kerr and a few much less attractive Buicks. The 60-second spot ran during the first quarter of the big game, and marks the second consecutive Super Bowl ad for Buick. The internet has had an absolute field day with this one, but we love it all the same.
10. Wix – The Restaurant
Ever wonder what happens when you put Wonder Woman and the Transporter together in one Super Bowl spot? Wonder no more, friends, as the creative minds at Wix have finally answered that question with their 30-second ad. Wix has pulled out all the stops for their big game ads the last three years, and this one – starring Gal Gadot and Jason Statham and directed by Louis Leterrier (Brothers Grimsby, Now You See Me) – plays more like a shoot-em-up than a commercial intended to hype up a website building platform.
Getting to watch Gadot and Statham punch faces together is a dream come true for action fans. The duo makes beating up fifteen bad guys look easy (and sexy) and even helps Chef Felix renovate his restaurant space. There’s a two-minute directors cut available online, though viewers were only treated to the 30-second version during Sunday’s game. We can’t wait to see what Wix dreams up for next year’s Super Bowl.
9. Evony – The King’s Return
Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Aaron Eckhart star in the most epic ad of the century, Evony’s “The King’s Return”. The mobile game company promised a masterpiece and they did not disappoint. The jaw-dropping ad tells the story of monumental battles throughout history, jumping from King Arthur to George Washington to Chinese Empress Wu Zetian. While the company only secured a 30-second slot for the Super Bowl, the actual extended cut is a two-minute trailer for the most epic movie we could ever wish for. Honestly, we were kinda disappointed when we found out that this wasn’t a sneak peak of what’s to come on The Walking Dead. Can you imagine if Negan went all King Arthur on some walkers?
If you’ve never jumped into the mobile gaming world, now might be the time to start. Hopefully, Evony’s game is as entertaining as their Super Bowl spot. Maybe even half as entertaining. If the game doesn’t pan out, at least they can rest easy knowing their commercial was better than Damon’s The Great Wall.
8. Honda – Yearbook
We all had awkward teenage years. Maybe it was braces, maybe it was a wardrobe comprised entirely of velour jumpsuits. Either way, photographic evidence of these years generally tends to wind up buried in a box somewhere at mom’s house – unless you’re a super-duper famous person, that is. Then it gets broadcasted to the entire world. Honda’s charming and lighthearted spot brings yearbook photos to life, tabbing some very A-list celebrities for their cast.
Tina Fey thought bringing a red rose to picture day would be a nice touch. Amy Adams had a severe case of bangs-in-the-face. And Jimmy Kimmel, always the joker, laments his outfit while encouraging kids to follow their dreams. The rest of the cast includes big names like Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Missy Elliott, Magic Johnson, Stan Lee, and Robert Redford. The hilarious spot, part of Honda’s latest “Power of Dreams” campaign, plugs the CR-V’s 20th anniversary with a clever yearbook entry of its own.
7. Mr. Clean – Cleaner of Your Dreams
Proctor & Gamble’s iconic character just got his first-ever Super Bowl ad, and boy does he make cleaning look good. The 30-second ad features a slightly updated version of the beloved Mr. Clean. He’s still rocking the bald head and all, but he looks about ten years younger and ten hundred times sexier. Yes, it’s just as strange for us to call him sexy as it is for you to read it. Now we’ve seen everything.
Aptly named “Cleaner of Your Dreams,” the mostly dialogue-free commercial has Mr. Clean showing up for duty at Sarah’s house in his signature skin-tight white pants and T-shirt, swinging his hips and sashaying away as he cleans the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The musical score isn’t subtle, and we’re basically watching Mr. Clean transform into Mr. Steal Yo’ Girlfriend with every passing second. Hey, the creative minds at Proctor & Gamble aren’t wrong: “You gotta love a man who cleans.”
6. Snickers – Live with Kylo Ren
Snickers teamed up with Star Wars supervillain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to deliver a spectacular 30-second live commercial. The western-themed ad keeps with the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” message, with intentionally poor timing and an extremely flimsy set. The motto was replaced with “You ruin live Super Bowl commercials when you’re hungry” at the end of the spot.
This morning, Snickers kept the ball rolling with a somber statement: “Hunger was the root cause of an off the field fumble during the Snickers live Super Bowl LI commercial last night as Adam Driver missed his mark to begin the spot. The mishap demonstrated once more the effects of what can happen when you’re hungry and off your game.” Driver, playing a gunslinger by the name of Jeremiah, clearly didn’t have his morning Snickers before heading to set. The same could be said about the Atlanta Falcons at halftime, but that’s neither here nor there.
5. Hyundai – Live with U.S. Troops
Here’s a first: Hyundai selected director Peter Berg (Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon) to shoot its Super Bowl ad during the game. The emotional spot opens with a helicopter buzzing over a US military outpost in Poland, stating that Americans wouldn’t be free to watch and enjoy the game without its troops serving around the world. Soldiers are shown watching the game on base, and several are selected from the group and taken back to a smaller, more private room.
These soldiers are given the gift of a lifetime: thanks to cutting-edge 360-degree cameras placed inside NRG stadium in Houston, they get to “attend” the game with their loved ones from thousands of miles away. Hyundai really nailed it with this one. They didn’t show a single car throughout the entire ad, they gave back to our troops, and they reminded viewers of what should really matter to each and every one of us: family, friends, and loved ones.
4. Kia – Hero’s Journey
Kia went all in with their epic Super Bowl ad for the new Kia Niro hybrid, which pays tribute to environmentalism and eco-activists. Award-winning actress Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids) plays a never-say-no eco-warrior attempting to save the planet, one cause at a time. McCarthy battles illegal whalers, the evil corporations behind deforestation, and polar ice caps, basically dying a million deaths along the way (not really, but a normal human would be super dead). McCarthy is indefatigable, even going to bat for the nearly extinct rhinos of our planet.
Kia was the first automaker of 2017 to announce their plans for a Super Bowl commercial, buying a full 60-second spot for just a shade over $5 million. Kia’s decision to lean on McCarthy’s star power was a good one, as this spot still has us laughing a full day after the game. She’s white-hot right now; if you somehow missed it, you need to see her Sean Spicer bit on SNL. It’s magic.
3. Audi – Daughter
Audi’s full 60-second spot is the commercial we need for 2017. Ditching the whole “fast car, tight turns” narrative that luxury/performance car companies beat to death every year, the creative minds at Audi have thrown themselves into the political fray with their spot about gender equality. The score is fantastic, the voiceover is perfect, and watching that adorable little girl dominate the field in her soapbox racer has us feeling all the feels.
Republican, Democrat, Tea Party – it doesn’t matter. While our country clashes over political and religious ideals, commercials like Audi’s “Daughter” serve as a reminder that at the end of the day, we are all still human. If our math is correct, the company spent $10.04 million to secure a full 60-second spot in the third quarter. We feel like this ad was actually worth the investment, as it sends a powerful and relevant message to the citizens of the world: gender bias is officially a thing of the past.
2. Avocados from Mexico – #AvoSecrets
Holy Guacamole! Avocados From Mexico just changed the game with their revelationary Super Bowl commercial, which marks the brand’s third consecutive year of big game advertising. Some of the best snippets from the full 100-second spot (which has been pared down to 30 seconds for the game) include: Big Foot isn’t real (or is he, Scott?), there are actually only 49 shades of grey, and Area 51 (and 52-54) are still safe from the public.
The ad’s initially-masked secret society can’t seem to keep its secrets a secret; we’re guessing that has to do with Kyle live-streaming the meeting. The 100-second version also includes a quick shot from the recently released John Lovitz teaser, teaching the society just how effective subliminal messaging can really be. According to Advertising Age, the idea of “good” fat in avocados is a message that the brand will pushing hard in the coming months, as the FDA plans to reevaluate its stance on healthy fats vs total fat consumption.
1. Budweiser – Born the Hard Way
The perennial Best Ad contender and beer giant has tapped into the recent immigration debate with “Born the Hard Way,” or as we like to call it, “The Commercial That Could Actually Start a Fight at Your Super Bowl Party.” Looks like they don’t need cuddly puppies, throaty bullfrogs, or majestic Clydesdales to create memorable ads anymore. Budweiser’s departure from familiar territory is refreshing, and the ad itself – which challenges the current stance of certain White House figureheads – is a stiff shot of patriotism when we need it most.
Available online well before Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast, “Born the Hard Way” is less a 60-second spot and more of a 60-second story. It showcases the plight of Adolphus Busch, a brewmaster from Germany who discards his former life and journeys to America in the mid-1800s. Treated with contempt and ridiculed from day one, Busch overcomes tremendous adversity as he makes his way to St. Louis, where he meets Eberhard Anheuser, another immigrant, and changes the global beer landscape forever.
What was your favorite ad from Super Bowl Sunday? Let us know in the comments.