Super Bowl commercials: poignant, pointed and funny

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Last night’s Superbowl commercials were at their best when they were told simple stories which were well executed. These included serious pro-diversity messages from companies like AirBnB, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and Michelin and funny ads from It’s a 10 Haircare, Mr. Clean and Kia. My two favorites overall were from AirBnB, which just showed faces of people from all backgrounds with a positive message of inclusion, and It’s a 10 Haircare, which used the new administration as a warning for Americans to do their part to have good hair. Other standouts included Mr. Clean as a sexy male maid, Melissa McCarthy for Kia (she really won this weekend) and Honda’s cute yearbook ad featuring actual school photos of celebrities giving advice. The worst commercials were from the mobile phone companies. T-Mobile had several very cringe-inducing ads encouraging us to dance with Bieber and riffing on 50 Shades. Sprint had a dad faking his own death, which – how does that get greenlighted by teams of people? It makes me think that a bunch of yes-people are in charge at Sprint. Here are some of my favorites and the list at the end has most of the others.

AirBnB: We Accept

I had to google to figure out which company this was so the branding could have been stronger, but this ad for AirBnB is powerful, simple and moving. This is part of their campaign to house 10,000 people in need. AirBnB has been vocal in their support of refugees. You can learn more here.

84 Lumber: The Journey Begins

84 Lumber also comes out on the right side of history with this moving ad featuring a mom and her daughter traveling to America. Apparently the original version of this ad was rejected as it showed a border wall. You can watch the rest of the story here.

Budweiser: Born The Hard Way

This incredibly powerful ad tells the story of Adolphus Busch, who emigrated to the US from Germany at the age of 18 to cofound the Anheuser Busch company. Many outlets are making a big deal out of how it is a pro-immigration story, but it’s also the American dream and Budweiser knows this. I love this so much.

It’s a 10 Haircare: Four years of bad hair

How long until Mr. Bigly talks in circles about how terrible this haircare line is? This is brilliant.

Mr. Clean is a sex object finally

This is the first Superbowl ad for Mr. Clean and it begs the question: what took so long for them to realize this is all we wanted from Mr. Clean? Sexy and doing all the work for us.

Kia featuring Melissa McCarthy: Hero’s Journey

Kia’s hybrid station wagon/SUV ferries Melissa McCarthy around the world to save the whales, trees, polar ice caps and rhinos. She gets into crazy mishaps at each location which made me laugh out loud several times. Excellent ad.

Ford: Go Further

Ford opens with all sorts of people in recognizable Murphy’s Law situations like not being able to zip up a dress, getting stuck with a shirt over your head and having a boat starter fail. Everyone’s problems are solved as we’re introduced to Ford’s new ventures like ride sharing, bike sharing and self driving vehicles, except for the guy in the boat. What happened to the guy in the boat?! Hecate is worried about the guy in the dog door.

Skittles: Romance

This ad features a teenage suitor throwing Skittles at a girl named Katie’s window as he says her name over and over and various family members and guests catch the Skittles. That’s my name, so I probably was more amused by this silly little commercial than most.

GoDaddy: The Internet Wants You

A heavily hashtag-tattooed guy lives for the Internet with blue and gold dresses in his closet, cats on roombas in his house and he even does the ice bucket challenge instead of showering. It’s not bad and I wanted to rewatch it to catch all the references.

Buick: If that’s a Buick my kid’s Cam Newton

This was a good idea, executed well because cute little kids were involved. It really didn’t need Miranda Kerr at the end as the coach, that seemed like overkill.

Honda: yearbooks

Celebrities including Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Amy Adams and Viola Davis speak from their yearbook photos. I’ve checked a few and they’re genuine, but some of the surrounding photos are fakes, which is to be expected.

Tide: Terry Bradshaw rushes to get a clean shirt

Terry Bradshaw goes on an epic journey to get his shirt clean, ending up at Jeffrey Tambor’s house and watching a documentary during the big game.

Sprint: Guy fakes his own death to get out of Verizon contract

This doesn’t seem funny to me and is more creepy. There are kids watching their dad send a car off a cliff with a mannequin and it opens with “Daddy’s dead kids.” Not a good idea.

Turbotax: Humpty Fall

Turbotax features a broken and recovering Humpty Dumpry in the hospital telling off the kingsmen and writing off his medical expenses (which have to be extremely high to be deductible). The commercial I first saw online, with Humpty falling off the wall, was so much more effective.

Wendy’s: Cold Storage

I don’t know why this very simple commercial works, maybe it’s the pink hairdryer and the guy’s expression, but it does and it had me laughing. I’m also extremely biased because I eat at Wendy’s at least once a week.

Audi’s pay equity spot

This makes me want to buy an Audi honestly. Excellent spot with a kick ass little girl and a great message.

Evony game starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Fan BingBing and Aaron Eckhart

There’s not much to say except that this looks like a movie ad instead of a mobile game.

Snickers’ Live Ad with Adam Driver

This was a “blink and you’ll miss it” ad for me. It was shot and aired live with deliberate picture and set issues including actors being “shot” before they were ready and the entire set collapsing. Given what Woody Harrelson just achieved with a live film, this was underwhelming for me.

Wix.com featuring Jason Statham & Gal Gadot

Jason Statham and Gal Gadot kick ass in a restaurant while the chef, oblivious, creates his website with Wix in the kitchen. When the restaurant is totaled it’s no biggie to the chef, who starts a food truck thanks to Wix. This needs more shots of Statham and Gadot serving customers.

King’s Hawaiian Rolls

I’m adding this one because the ending made me laugh. They need to use more kids in commercials.

Bud Light: Ghost Spuds McKenzie

The floating ghost of Spuds McKenzie, an English bull terrier who represented the brand in the 90s, shows “Brian” what he’s missing by not hanging out with his friends. It’s absurd and that’s why it works.

Additional Ads:
Michelin: I Need You
Intel: Brady Everyday
Avocados from Mexico: Secret Society
Arnold Schwarzenegger for Mobile Strike
Superbowl Busch guy
Pepsi LIFEWTR
World of Tanks: Real Awful Moms
T-Mobile Unlimited featuring Justin Bieber, Rob Gronkowski and Terrell Owens
Bai antioxidant drink featuring Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake
Febreeze: Halftime bathroom break
Michelob Ultra: Our Bar
Squarespace: Calling John Malkovich?
Lexus: Man and Machine featuring Lil Buck
Nintendo Switch
NFL: Superbowl baby legends
T-Mobile #BagofUnlimited with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg
Persil Proclean featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy
T-Mobile #Punished with Kristen Schaal
Amazon Echo: Buster
Amazon Echo: My Girl
Turkish Airlines featuring Morgan Freeman
T-Mobile #NSFWireles featuring Kristen Schaal
Mercedes Benz: Easy Driver featuring Peter Fonda and directed by the Coen brothers

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49 Responses to “Super Bowl commercials: poignant, pointed and funny”

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  1. Senaber says:

    The ending of the 84 Lumber commercial is very good.

    • KB says:

      The owner of the company has since said that she supports building a wall and that she voted for Trump. Bizarre woman.

  2. SusanneToo says:

    Annnddd… there are calls to boycott Budweiser. And I’ve seen tweets to boycott 84 Lumber. Because, well, of course….
    http://fortune.com/2017/02/05/budweiser-super-bowl-commercial-immigration-boycott/

    • Sasha says:

      Didn’t hit your link yet but I do know that Budweiser is high on the list of using the most GMOs.

      • SusanneToo says:

        They’re not calling boycott because of GMOs. It’s sympathy for immigrants that have trumpees’ knickers in a knot.

    • Sasha says:

      @SusanneToo
      I didn’t think they were, however, any use of airtime that stimulates anxiety in Trumpers works for me. How easily ‘they’ forget how their ancestors ended up here.
      The 84 Lumber commercial, including the link, made me tear up. *sniff*

      • SusanneToo says:

        Yeah, I don’t drink and I don’t build, but I feel the urge to run out and buy both their products today.😊😊

    • lizzie says:

      they might as well stop drinking beer b/c every big beer company was started by german or belgian immigrants. beer wasn’t invented here. Bud, Miller, Coors – they were all started by German immigrants and own 99% of the smaller breweries that distribute nationally. molson and labatt are canadian. People are idiots.

    • Anilehcim says:

      I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with the Budweiser commercial. That really boggles my mind. There is so much ugliness and hatefulness out there right now, though. I’ve seen a lot of hateful and disgusting tweets to Lumber 84 as well. The Lumber 84 commercial was very touching, and although I’m liberal, I can see why it was controversial. I 100% support a path to citizenship and believe we have a serious problem in regard to WHY people have to flee their countries to come to the U.S., but I have to admit, I don’t support illegal immigration. I don’t want to see anyone deported and I do not believe that we will, but the idea that the United States owes the world open borders is ridiculous, in my opinion. We have laws and a process… a broke one, yes, and it needs to be fixed. I say this as a person whose relatives have come here illegally. I was really shocked to see that a construction company made that commercial because construction companies notoriously hire illegal workers, and often treat them absolutely terribly, specifically because they don’t want to pay them well.

      • SusanneToo says:

        Last week there was a leaked EO(not yet signed)that would deport legal immigrants who use assistance funds-SNAP, Section 8, etc. so, it’s on their(bannon’s)agenda.

      • Anilehcim says:

        Terrifying times. I do hold hope in the fact that EOs can be overridden by a 2/3 majority, and Trump doesn’t have the full support of quite a few Republicans and obviously any Democrats. The fact that the appeals court chose not to side with him on the Muslim ban is reassuring. Contrary to what Trump thinks, he doesn’t get the final say and he cannot just do whatever he wants.

      • Fiorella says:

        I agree with this comment. One thing to illustrate the struggle to battle people with hatred and no compassion. But welcoming people to work is a bit odd, since it’s an illegal practice from what I understand. I don’t have the solution but continuing to hire undocumented immigrants without reducing documented ones doesn’t seem sustainable, as I mentioned below.

      • Fiorella says:

        It would be very nice to help Mexico, I think that would be a better use of tax dollars than a wall of course. Obviously they need help eliminating the cartels

  3. boredblond says:

    I watched the puppy bowl, then fell asleep watching a movie. I’ll take the pups and kitties over the Patriots any day.

  4. Sasha says:

    Good morning! How nice of you to put them all together. Coffee watching material.

  5. astrid says:

    I was so looking forward to the Budweiser commercial and was then disappointed. I read an opinion piece earlier this morning that calls out Bud for this commercial. Busch was from a wealthy family and wouldn’t have travelled in steerage. Busch came to America 30 years before immigration laws so he wouldn’t have had papers. Why not show the diversity of current Bud employees and how they got to America?

    • original kay says:

      Just proves it can never be good enough, eh?

    • TotallyBiased says:

      Given that Ellis Island opened up to process immigrants in 1892 because of overwhelming need, immigration had obviously been an issue for years. The US’ first laws affecting immigrants were established in 1798, so I don’t know why they think he wouldn’t have needed papers.

    • swak says:

      Just because he was from a wealthy family does not mean he was supported by them. They may have given him nothing for his passage to America.

      • Anilehcim says:

        Good point. The first person from my family to come to America was a great Uncle in the early 1900′s, and his family was very wealthy. He still came here flat broke because no one supported him leaving Italy.

      • yep says:

        The reason why german descended americans live largely in the mid-west is that unlike thi Italians, the Polish or the Irish, they were relatively well-off enough to buy land quickly, because of family support.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      I don’t think you have to be against the Budweiser ad intentions, to point out that it isn’t a truthful representation of Adolphus Busch’s immigration story. I’m not saying that the ad theme isn’t timely or important, because it is. But in these times of people fudging facts, it would have been more meaningful for them to have an Irish, Chinese or other immigrant featured, who would indeed have been being discriminated against heartily in the mid-19th century. And it would have been more fun for history-geeks like me! :)

      Like most Germans who came in the 1850s (as well as Swiss, like my family in 1863), Busch had family and community connections to ease his way (no shame in that). After starting and running a soap company, he married Eberhard Anheuser’s daughter Lilly and entered into her family’s brewery business.

      http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/02/02/budweiser_s_super_bowl_ad_casts_adolphus_busch_as_an_immigrant_success_story.html

  6. Runcmc says:

    The Bai commercial was hands down my favorite. Still have a soft spot for *NSYNC! (Bummer the other guys weren’t in the ad, I bet they would have liked the work!)

  7. Melly says:

    The Audi ad made me get emotional.

  8. SilverUnicorn says:

    The German guy in the Budweiser ad, in 1926, gets told ‘go back home’.

    2017, UK, Italian, I’ve been told that so many times by now…….

    Mankind has not progressed much in 100 years.

  9. KJA says:

    Can we get to the most important part of this post please-Celebitchy’s name is Katie? I obviously knew the writers had actual names, but this still blows my mind…

  10. Shambles says:

    I’m glad so many advertisers were so pointed. I’m glad they didn’t back away.

  11. Nina says:

    I love how pissed off Trump supporters got on Twitter about the Coke and AirBnB commercials. I mean, if you ever find yourself in the position where you interpret a commercial’s call for inclusion and peace as some personal attack on you, then I think that something has gone seriously wrong in your life.

  12. Adele Dazeem says:

    Loved the Audi commercial. all the feels.

    Don’t hate me but I secretly cackled at the fifty shades mobile phone joke(s). Maybe it’s because I find that actress quite funny in her awkwardness too.

  13. Ramona says:

    The AirBnB ad exists within the context that they have an ongoing race related image crisis. People with black or asian sounding names were rejected from listings and even hosts with high ratings were rejecting black guests. Black hosts in particular now put generic photos of pets instead of their faces because they get no offers otherwise. There was a hashtag awhile ago that captured how bad it is #airbnbwhileblack. Good for them, if they are working with refugees but even that is probably a PR strategy to confront their internal problem.

    • Slowsnow says:

      This is where we are now: forgiving huge, malevolous choices from certain brands in favor of a message of acceptance. Under autoritarian governments everything is diminished, not only our liberties but also our battles. In return we get a bigger sence of community.

  14. Sarah B says:

    Wendy’s salads are great.

  15. Chingona says:

    Omg, I am crying right now after watching the 84 lumber commercial. I have never heard of this company before but will now go out of my way to look it up. My husband came to the USA twelve years ago at 17 illegally. He was from a very small town in Mexico. He grew up in house with no running water( you had to carry water more than a mile from a small stream) dirt floors, and a roof made up of scraps of metal that leaked all the time. My husband was very smart and after he finished what is considered middle school he wanted to go to their equivalent of high school. So his father who was a farmer started selling tacos nights and weekends in the bigger city’s arround their village in order for them to pay for his high school since that is not free in Mexico. Well after about two months the cartel called “La Familia” told my husband’s father that he needed to start paying them a certain amount each week( which was more than he made). He could not and so he went missing. A week later he was found hanging from a tree in front my husbands house. My husband still hears the screams from his mother when she found her husband in his dreams. My husband being the oldest tried his hardest to help his mother after this to support his brothers and sisters. He decided to come to the USA illegally after being denyed a visa. He came to this country with nothing and now has buildt a company with 58 employees by working his butt off. So I wish that every single person who wants to critize Mexican’s would realize that the USA is very much responsible for the drug wars that are terrorizing Mexico right now. The USA is the number one consumer of the cartels products. I also wish that more Americans would realize how bad it is getting in some parts of Mexico and have compassion for their fellow human beings just trying to flee these horrible situations. Sorry about the essay.

    • CityGirl says:

      I am overwhelmed by your family’s story. God Bless

    • Slowsnow says:

      @Chingona, what a terrible life story. So glad he has you.

    • Ennie says:

      What chingona said is true, in some states some towns and villages became empty because of the cartel domination. they are so money hungry that they do not care for anything.
      Many of us still can lead normal lives, tho, but many others have had to emigrate, and many have gone all the way to other countries.

  16. DetRiotGirl says:

    In the Czech Republic, there’s a brewery in a city called Česke Budejovice. They make a beer there that has been known to Germans as Budweiser for many, many years before the American version ever came along (Czech name is Budvar). I used to live there, and the general feeling was that American Budweiser stole the name in order to leech off of the prestige and popularity of an already existing Czech brand, made an inferior product and then took legal steps to prevent the original Czech Brewery from ever selling their product with their own name outside of Europe. Because of this, I had a very hard time liking the Budweiser commercial. I’m fully supportive of their feel good message about immigrants, but I will never be supportive of the brand.

    • Madailein says:

      Yes, this is true: Ceske Budejovice (Budvar in Czech) brewery was the original home and origin of Budweiser beer. Almost all the beer fans I know prefer the Czech brand to the stolen, “inferior” American beer. I can’t support Budweiser, either, b/c of the way that the brand was taken from the Czechs. (I used to live in Czech, too!)

    • Arwen says:

      I agree. I wanted to like their ad but I despise their business practices and the cynical part of me was looking for the underlying intentions and twisted truths beneath the feel good message.

      On a lighter note, isn’t it funny that a lot of the people boycotting Bud used to love it because it’s an American company (now owned by an overseas corporation) while bashing craft breweries, (which the majority of are American small businesses), for being “hipster” and “pretentious?”

  17. Doodle says:

    I was totally into the Lumber commercial and posted about it on Facebook. Apparently the owner of the company is a huge trump supporter and donated a bunch of money to his campaign. The ad references the doors Trump mentioned during a campaign speech. I was sooooo disappointed since I loved this ad.

    • jmacky says:

      Yes, Refinery 29 just did a good article on this, the follow up to the ad shows a door, as if to say the wall is about facilitating “good, legal migration.” This ad is much sneakier than people might be seeing, the portrayal of a young mother and girl (who in reality face some of the worst violence in that walk north) and then accessing immigration through a Trump sanctioned plan/wall. The implication is a switch from the blunt force Trump policies, but same message. American access is based on selection and that same racist argument that there are “good” and “bad” immigrants. (Reasserting the whole faux morality in immigration, and the criminalization of immigrants to feed into the prison industrial complex/corporate prison industry). This is like Mad Men working for the bad guys…

      “Why I’m Not Celebrating 84 Lumber’s Viral Super Bowl Ad — & Neither Should You”
      http://www.refinery29.com/2017/02/139526/84-lumber-journey-super-bowl-immigration-ad?utm_source=email&utm_medium=editorial&utm_content=everywhere&utm_campaign=170206-divorce-rate-in-america-statistics

  18. Elizabeth says:

    some where good the switch was good… trash mobile no thanks the only movie add I want to see is guardians of the galaxy. the rest where bad lol no one is talking about the train wreck trailer of potc 5 lmao ugh

  19. Mia LeTendre says:

    Air bnb is WELL known for being racist. Quelle hypocrisy.

  20. maryquitecontrary says:

    There were LOTS of lovely message statements in the ads. Airbnb and Audi made me tear up.

    And Mr. Clean? Who knew he was sexy? I laughed and laughed! :)