Super Bowl Commercials: Tide and David Harbour owned the night

Last night the underdogs I rooted for because they were not Tom Brady’s team actually won the Super Bowl (spoiler). It was tight at the end, and I assumed that the Patriots would take it home, because that would be typical of 2018. Like the last election I was pleasantly surprised, and the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl. We’re here to talk about the commercials though, (Kaiser has separate coverage of Justin Timberlake’s underwhelming halftime performance, which was peak 2018).

Tide made everyone forget that idiots are eating their detergents pods as a social media dare by using Stranger Things’s David Harbour to mimic and subvert just about every genre of ad. They started with this ad, below, which was a clever mash of multiple ad archetypes. This was a brilliant preview of their ads to come, as we’ll discuss in a moment.

Tide: It’s a Tide Ad

At the end of that ad Harbour asked “so, does this make every ad a Tide ad?” and I was like “whatever, overreaching” but they had me wondering that several times. They snuck Tide ads in throughout the night looking like other ads, like Old Spice, Mr. Clean and Budweiser. They so expertly mimicked typical ad styles that it was just as surprising when some ads weren’t for Tide. For instance there was a T-Mobile ad featuring babies with a vanilla diversity narration by Kerry Washington. It seemed so hackneyed that I thought for sure it was from Tide. Other ads, particularly from car companies, had me questioning their origins too.

Tide: It’s Another featuring Isaiah Mustafa

This one made me go “oh sh-t” when they did the reveal. How do these spokespeople basically mock the gigs that made them famous? I’m also thinking of the Verizon guy, who now works for Sprint.

Tide: It’s Yet Another

I exclaimed out loud when this wasn’t a sexy Mr. Clean ad. They also mock the countrified beer ads. Genius.

Tide: It’s Yet Another

This is a riff on prescription drug ads and while it’s the weakest of the Tide ads it was still more entertaining than most of the ads last night.

E-Trade: This is Getting Old

A lot of people loved these E-Trade ads, which show elderly people working when they should be retired with significant savings. The jobs look kind of awesome, as do the seniors. I wouldn’t mind working as a DJ in my 80s. E-Trade is pretty decent at having memorable Big Game ads.

Avocados from Mexico: GuacWorld

People get stuck in a biodome full of avocados without any chips and start rioting. The leader explains that avocados taste great on other things and they calm down, until the wifi goes down. This made me laugh out loud.

Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice featuring Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman

My kid really liked this ad for Doritos Blaze vs Mountain Dew Ice featuring a lip sync battle between Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman. That’s high praise coming from a 13 year-old. I think Freeman’s Dew Ice won this one, if only because Missy Elliot trumps Busta Rhymes.

Tourism Australia Dundee featuring Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride

I vaguely remember hearing that a Crocodile Dundee sequel was being made with multiple big names, but it turns out that it was all a preview for this Tourism Australia ad that just looks like a movie trailer. This was a really great idea that had me fooled until the part about the wineries. It may have won the night if it wasn’t for Tide.

Rocket Mortgage featuring Keegan-Michael Key

Key explains complicated jargon to people, including a woman getting a haircut, a guy eating at a hipster restaurant, and a dad trying to understand rap lyrics. When he breaks it down for a couple trying to get a mortgage, we get to the point of the commercial and we’re already hooked. Come explain football to me, Key.

Pringles featuring Bill Hadler

Apparently this is Pringles first ever Super Bowl ad, which makes me wonder if they’re doing ok. Are people eating less Pringles? Should I do my part and consume them? Bill and a couple of other guys on a fake movie set have their mind blown by the concept that you can combine Pringles to make different flavors. They say “wow,” it starts getting old, and then they yell at a guy suspended in a harness for trying to chime in. It does make me want Pringles, but I’m hungry.

Febreeze: The only man whose bleep don’t stink

I hate all air fresheners, including Febreeze, because they usually make me dizzy. I wish that air fresheners would be heavily regulated and that all hotels would be required to have windows that opened. Why is putting perfume over a bad smell now more common than opening a window? Still, this is a cute quirky ad featuring a guy whose s-t doesn’t stink, reminding us that ours really does stink and that other people are embarassed of theirs too.

Michelob Ultra featuring Chris Pratt

This is funny because it’s probably more work than Chris Pratt does for any of his other roles, apart from working out. The follow up ad, where he’s in the background as other people star, was the real standout for Michelob.

M&M’s featuring Danny Devito

Try not to laugh at Danny Devito wandering around NY City asking people if they want to eat him. That’s just hilarious. I won’t ever look at red M&M’s the same. This is DeVito’s first Super Bowl ad. There’s actually a behind the scenes video for this and it’s worth watching if you have time. Plus this has a bookend commercial where Danny turns back into an M&M.

Ram Trucks: Icelandic vikings will rock you

This was a cool ad highlighting the manly ruggedness of Ram Trucks. I liked this one. Their second ad set a bunch of faux inspiring scenes to a voiceover by Martin Luther King, Jr. and it seemed so manipulative to me. Did MLK’s family get paid for that, or is the speech in the public domain? I tried googling this, it’s called The Drum Major Instinct sermon and is the last speech MLK gave before he was assassinated. That’s shameless, and Ram was rightfully dragged for this.

Hyundai Hope Detectors

This was the most absurdly contrived commercial I think I’ve ever seen. People go through a fake security checkpoint only to be pulled into another room where they’re told by cancer patients that they saved their lives by being Hyundai drivers. How did this get greenlit? How does it make any sense? It’s like when the cop pulls you over and gives you ice cream, then tells you that the route you took helped pay for a child’s prosthetic legs, then the child ambles over and you adopt him. Then, after you adopt him they make another f’ing commercial about it, like the one that aired before the Super Bowl by Mass Mutual.

Verizon – Answering the Call

My cousin loved that Mass Mutual “Stand By Me” commercial and she also named this Verizon first responders ad as one of her favorites. This was another one of those emotionally manipulative commercials that does appeal to people.

Squarespace featuring Keanu Reeves

Squarespace has smartly paired celebrity side projects with their easy-to-make website platform for excellent commercials. Squarespace’s 2015 big game ad featured Jeff Bridges’s meditation album and now Keanu is working with Squarespace to promote his custom motorcycle business, Arch Motorcycles. I like the simple concept of Keanu standing up riding and reciting self help mantras to a jazzy soundtrack. I’m going to watch this when I need motivation.

Lexus featuring Black Panther

This makes the car look extremely cool by association, so it works. It’s also highly entertaining and makes me want to see this movie as soon as possible.

Pepsi throwback ad

As a former Diet Pepsi drinker this ad pisses me off SO MUCH. Diet Pepsi of course changed their formula from aspartame to sucralose a couple of years ago with little-to-no warning to consumers. The new Diet Pepsi tastes too sweet to me, I switched to Diet Coke and never looked back. So here’s Pepsi reminding us of all their classic ads with Britney, Justin and Cindy, along with the fact that their regular formula is still the same. What about those of us who drink diet soda, you stupid Pepsi execs? We switched to Coke.

Budweiser: Stand By You

This ad is powerful because it leaves you with the question – how did I not know that Budweiser had special disaster relief water that they distributed in cans that looked like beer? It’s true and Anheuser Busch has done this type of relief work for 30 years, according to their website. Unfortunately this aired after a Tide commercial and I wondered for about ten seconds whether it was real or Tide.

Groupon featuring Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany makes anything funny, but the concept for this Groupon commercial is weak. It’s some kids in football uniforms kicking a football into a rich guy’s crotch. Groupon should have worked with Tiffany on ideas. She’s one of their best customers and she’s funnier than their ad writers.

Alexa lost her voice

A clever concept, well executed by celebrities stepping in for Alexa and screwing up the service. The best is Cardi B refusing to play country music but creepy Anthony Hopkins is pretty good too.

Universal Orlando: Peyton Manning: Vacation Quarterback

I wasn’t going to cover this, but it was so cute and it made me want to visit Universal Orlando with my kid. The concept, of kids schooling Peyton, was just so well done.

The Voice – wants to be Tide

I’m not covering the trailers or show promotions that aired last night, Kaiser will cover the standouts, but I wanted to talk about this commercial for The Voice. This was fun and also used the Tide tactic of mocking other commercials, only it was so over the top it went a little too far. The tone is off somehow compared to Tide. Again, Kudos to Tide.

Here are links to some of the other commercials which aired last night.
Bud Light – Ye Olde Pep Talk

Bud Light – The Bud Knight

Wix featuring Rhett and Link

Stella Artois featuring Matt Damon and

Sprint: Evelyn

Duracell Hoodie

Turbotax: The Noise in the Attic

Wendys continues trolling McDonalds expertly

Jack in the Box featuring Martha Stewart

Kia makes Steven Tyler a 20-something rock star again

Winter Olympics featuring Lindsey Vonn

Winter Olympics featuring Shaun White





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41 Responses to “Super Bowl Commercials: Tide and David Harbour owned the night”

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  1. Bridget says:

    Old Spice and Tide are owned by the same company, so Isaiah Mustafa wasn’t making fun of Old Spice, it was a planned corporate synergy.

    And really, the best commercial was Fire & Ice, followed by Eli & Odell’s dance.

  2. V4Real says:

    I love Isaiah on Shadowhunters and he wasn’t making fun of where he started.

    But the commercial for me was Eli Manning and Beckam Jr. Dirty dancing’s Time of my Life.
    Alexa loses her voice and Black Panther Lexus.

  3. Lucy2 says:

    That Tide marketing was GENIUS.
    I liked the Keegan Michael Key one because I just adore him, and the E*TRADE was amusing, but none of the others did much for me. Danny Devito as a human M&M seems about right though.

    • Esmom says:

      Agree with your choices! As a former advertising creative the I think Tide ones were interestingly both an easy and difficult concept to execute. I love KMK, too, and thought the ad was funny.

  4. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    I absolutely adore Keegan and thought his commercial was so cute. It actually was both funny and informative.

    My ageless King Keanu wins the night for me though. Mainly because I like looking at his face.

    I never would have thought Odell had a sense of humor but he and Peyton were also charming.

    That Ram commercial was unacceptable and I cannot believe MLK’s estate gave the rights to his speech for this commercial but not to the movie Selma. I wonder what their reasoning was behind this.

    • Cali says:

      Agreed on the MLK speech being used to sell freaking trucks. Totally gross.

      • lucy2 says:

        Me too. When it was done I thought “it’s just an f’ing truck”. The use of an MLK speech used to sell anything is bad enough, but that was just terrible.

      • nb says:

        My husband and I both looked at each other like “What??” when that truck commercial came on.

        What a disgusting use of a great man’s words.

    • Scal says:

      It wasn’t the foundation or the family that gave the okay (they both came out on Twitter)-but the company that they use to manage the licensing of the image and speeches. I get that for these large estates that families hire someone to manage that (e.g Hendrix, Monroe, Elvis etc) I’m just amazed that the family wouldn’t get final say and cede a lot of that control.

      Selma worked directly with the family and the King center.

      • the newest classic says:

        The article I read on another site had a good breakdown of the situation. Apparently, there’s a schism in the family. It’s the sister (who did not authorize this) versus the brothers, King III and…the other one whose name I forget. The brothers own the company that manages the intellectual property, and they signed off on Ram using the speech. The sister was allegedly against it.

        That was my understanding, though it could be wrong!

  5. Lindy79 says:

    Goddam I have such a soft spot for David Harbour. His Instagram and Twitter are how celebs should do social media.

  6. Merritt says:

    I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the taste of aspartame. So when i do drink a diet pop, it has to be Diet Coke with Splenda or the new Diet Pepsi.

  7. Surely Wolfbeak says:

    The smartest thing Tide did was put Dee Wallace in the tennis ad, guaranteeing I would rewind it sixteen times trying to figure out if that was Dee Wallace.

  8. bella says:

    After (or tied with) Odel and Eli’s commercial, the best hands down in outright laughing and screaming in fits of joy was the Cure Insurance commercial. Was it only regional?????

    there was another one that said -(paraphrasing) you know what the lizard and flo have in common with the outcome of the superbowl game – both teams suck.

    • justcrimmles says:

      I’m not sure why I was expecting an insurance commercial to star Robert Smith, but here I am, quite disappointed. 🤦🏻

  9. Jackson says:

    Eli/OBJ ad was tops by miles for me. I am only slightly embarrassed to say I’ve watched it about twelve times, it was just that funny.

  10. C-Shell says:

    My fave, and I’ve watched it so many times and still laugh out loud, is the NFL’s Eli Manning and Odell Beckham (and team) dancing the iconic Time of My Life dance from Dirty Dancing. Adorable.

    Followed by Doritos/Mountain Dew Ice because I adore Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman. The little flame that bursts out of Dinklage’s shoulder at the end is a HOOT (dragon breath?).

    Followed by Dodge Ram/Vikings!!! I didn’t mind the emotionally manipulative ad with the MLK Jr speech; I’m one who gets tears over the emotional manipulation in many ads (loved the Olympics stories), and MLK Jr has been much on my mind recently. What it had to do with Dodge Ram trucks is lost on me though, and that means that the ad was, ultimately, a failure.

  11. Lori says:

    Wow, Harbour is pretty adorable- and super cute.

  12. winosaurusrex says:

    My favorite was the Olympics commercial featuring “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. It caught my attention immediately and I usually don’t watch the Olympics, the commentary drives me bonkers, and I’m waaaaaaaaaay too lazy to go find different coverage. but I’m totally watching now.

    Also the Budweiser showing them doing cans of water. Ok I have weird favorites……

  13. KBeth says:

    I just love David Harbour.

  14. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    As a former student of advertising, marketing, sales, pr and communication, Tide ruled. Kudos to the team that put that together in the face of controversy…I almost want to shell out the high dollars. Can’t help but love the lipsync battle, and I lol’d for both Alexa and the dirty dancing. Keanu. 😍

  15. adastraperaspera says:

    Fun ads, and I very much appreciated the ones highlighting the positivity of our multi-cultural society. As a horse lover, though, sniffles for no Clydesdales.

  16. pix says:

    I loved the Tide ads – they were all hilarious. That Peter Dinklage Dorito ad was hilarious and awesome. He killed it. Morgan Freedman was so good too, but his lip-sync skills were not as great as Dinklage.

  17. Cate says:

    Eli Manning doing the Dirty Dancing remake was the best for me, I fell off the couch laughing.

  18. britneyx says:

    Can someone explain to me the fascination with adverts? We skip through ads here in Ireland!

    • the newest classic says:

      The advertisements during the Super Bowl are highly coveted ad spots, because so many people watch the Super Bowl. Corporations pay millions of dollars for these ad spots. Because of this, advertisers usually bring their A-game and craft “entertaining” advertisements full of big name celebrities and spectacle. It’s become…kind of a cultural thing…to watch and see the best advertisements.

      I think it’s boring, but some people get really into it.

    • Michelle says:

      The Super Bowl gets the highest amount of viewers of any sports event, show, etc., so companies pay a ton of money for the commercials (this year it was $5 million for 30 seconds). Because of the money and viewership, companies really bring their A game and make their best commercials, and they’re usually hysterical or tears-inducing. Some people don’t even care to watch the game, they just want to see the commercials. So yeah, normally we like to skip the commercials but never, ever during the Super Bowl.

      Yay, Eagles!

  19. Mel M says:

    Liked the tide ones and love Key. Wish that Groupon one was more clever because she is hilarious. A lot of them I rolled my eyes at and yeah that t Mobil one with the babies was super strange. I thought it was a joke at first and the way KW is talking is not natural it sounds stunted, just weird.

  20. Cookiejar says:

    I don’t get it. What is the point of watching something for commercials? Something that I ALWAYS want to skip? No matter how “good” a commercial is, it’s still a commercial (bottom of the barrel).

    Granted, I am the shittiest consumer ever, as a rule, any company that tries to advertise itself through facebook and appear on my feed as sponsored ads, I typically leave comments on their ads on how their lame tactics will only have them blacklisted by me. Plus I typically add how their products are utter shite.

  21. Amelie says:

    I don’t know if any of you recognized him but the bald guy in the Amazon Echo commercial is Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO.

  22. teacakes says:

    I don’t really get the Super Bowl thing but I love David Harbour so I’m 100 percent here for him.

  23. DesertReal says:

    Peter D and Morgan F lip sync battle and the Pringles ad made me crack up the most. I didn’t dig the Tide commercials mostly because I HATED this concept back when Energizer did it.

  24. KeepingItReal says:

    How is nobody mentioning Anthony ‘ cameo in the Alexa commercial? The man is an international treasure.