The Super Bowl is an event that's all about size: Two big teams face off in a big stadium in a big city as a big pop act performs at a big halftime show. To cut through all the spectacle surrounding the football game and leave an impression, advertisers have to think big, too -- which often results in Super Bowl ads stuffed with celebrities, gimmicks, special effects, and expensive stunts.
Just like last year, we ran down every Super Bowl commercial and ranked them all, from the inspirational duds to the actually funny ones you might even remember next year. (Note: We left out movie trailers and the local advertisements that pop up during the broadcast.) So grab your favorite Super-Bowl-approved beverage (Dilly... Dilly...) and read on -- we'll be updating throughout the night.
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 5 Primer
41. Dodge Ram
At a Super Bowl where so many brands touted themselves as socially-conscious, it was inevitable that some company would overstep and embarrass itself. Dodge Ram made almost every other cynical ad look noble in comparison by using audio of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to tout its "Built to Serve" slogan -- and, you know, sell cars during a football game. Yikes.
This might've been the bleakest ad of the night. While trying to be cheery and fun-loving, this E-Trade spot highlighted how older Americans have less and less retirement savings. So, they're out in the world working, taking on thankless jobs to pay the bills, which E-Trade mocks by showing them bumbling around and looking silly. If you don't want to feel like you're living in a dystopian novel, maybe skip this one.
The use of a xylophone cover of Nirvana's "All Apologies" in this ad probably made you really uncomfortable.
There's nothing necessarily "bad" about this ad for Wix.com, the web development platform, but compared to the company's ad last year, which featured Jason Statham and Gal Gadot in an action movie parody, this is pretty stale, familiar stuff. It's just two YouTube guys talking about creating websites. It feels like an ad you'd hear on a podcast. This is the Super Bowl, Wix.com -- step it up.
37. Mountain Dew vs. Doritos
I don't really get this one: Mountain Dew faces off against Doritos in a rap battle between celebrities lip-syncing famous Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot verses. Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman take on the vocals, respectively. This is standard brand nonsense and the cutaways to the rappers are fun, but it's not exactly "funny." It's just a big-budget, lip-sync battle.
WeatherTech is a company that makes vehicle accessories -- and they're also a company that buys a Super Bowl ad every year. This one is pretty by the numbers: Watch workers build a factory and celebrate America. Patriotism is an ancient Super Bowl commercial theme, but it's hard not to feel like this type of rah-rah rhetoric now plays like a dog whistle to Trump voters watching the big game. But it's also so benign that it feels weird to get too worked up over it.
"The road always ends" is a downbeat slogan for your Super Bowl ad. I'm sure this car commercial has some pseudo-serious point to make about transportation, narratives, and America. But it mostly felt ponderous.
What's actually going on in this ad? The message seems to be, "Buy a Hyundai or… we won't be able to give to cancer research." OK!
Another entry in the sentimental do-gooder genre, this ad shows you how a brewery in Cartersville, Georgia turned its facilities into a water-canning plant for victims of Hurricane Maria. There's probably a joke to be made here about how Budweiser already tastes like water, but I'll leave that to the "funny" beer snob from your Super Bowl viewing party.
32. Quicken Loans
Key and Peele's Keegan-Michael Key is a reliably charming screen presence, but even he can't save this lifeless Quicken Loans ad. Why cast a very funny comedian as an irritating know-it-all? And why is Big Sean along for the ride? This whole thing is too busy.
"It's like first class for your feet," says Howie Long in this commercial for the brightly colored shoe brand. Maybe that's true -- they look pretty comfy. But this didn't exactly feel like a first-class Super Bowl commercial.
In this ad for the Kia Stinger, aging Aerosmith rock god Steven Tyler gets on the race track and takes the car for a spin… backwards. And somehow he manages to reverse time back to when he didn't quite look like a wax figure. This is a car commercial with a concept out of a Christopher Nolan film -- or the 1978 Superman movie -- but the company made an odd choice to build it around Tyler, one of the goofier musicians out there. He just doesn't really sell the gravitas of the time travel angle. Was Bruce Springsteen busy?
Monster Cable Products/YouTube
Sorry, that slimy monster is too creepy. No thank you, TurboTax!
Honestly, it's amazing that Iggy Azalea was in a Super Bowl commercial in 2018.
Coke returns to the Super Bowl with an ad that delivers a message about inclusion, using a poem by copywriters at Wieden + Kennedy to show off how many different people love carbonated beverages. Sadly, no polar bears are featured.
26. Turkish Airlines
Dr. Oz really wants you to fly on Turkish Airlines.
Was this the opposite of Netflix's Cloverfield reveal? For the last few weeks, there's been hints online that Vice Principals star Danny McBride was working on a secret remake of Crocodile Dundee. It was actually a marketing hook: He's been filming an ad for Australian tourism with actual Australian Chris Hemsworth. It didn't exactly look like a good movie, so I guess this is for the best.
24. Stella Artois
Everybody loves water, right? This ad splices together two ubiquitous commercial genres -- the celebrity spokesperson and the philanthropy approach -- for a well-meaning spot that promotes Water.com. Odd that both Stella Artois and Budweiser used their time during the broadcast to promote their own water-related charity initiatives. In 2018, beer ads are woke.
Everyone loves football in this Toyota ad that feels like the set-up for an awkward priest-and-a-rabbi joke. Instead, it's just one of those commercials that wants you to feel warm and fuzzy about how football brings everyone together.
22. Bud Light
The "Dilly Dilly" trilogy comes to an end with this big-budget, Game of Thrones inspired spectacle from the beer giant. By this point, you're either all in on this silly series of ads or you find them incredibly annoying. The latest entry in the saga is mostly just preaching to the converted at this point.
21. Diet Coke
This colorful spot was directed by Bridesmaids filmmaker Paul Feig, who brings his light, improvisational touch to a Diet Coke commercial. Australian actress Hayley Magnus dances and mugs it up for the whole runtime. It's fine, like the blooper reel to a move about Diet Coke.
Universal Orlando Resort/YouTube
As part of their "All our Thanks" campaign, Verizon took the high road with this ad, celebrating first responders and all the important work they do.
19. Universal Parks & Resorts
Peyton Manning might be retired from playing professional football, but he's not retired from showing up in Super Bowl commercials. This ad for Universal Studios makes good use of his aw-shucks persona. It's some solid Dad Humor.
18. Persil ProClean
This was a weird one: A man in a white tuxedo comes through your TV and tell you how to clean your shirts. Sure. Why not?
You get some creepy Westworld vibes from this cheeky Sprint commercial, which once again takes aim at their competitor Verizon. The robots are clever enough, but the ad ends up feeling a little… mean, right? Artificial intelligence doesn't have to be so cruel.
This is the Pepsi ad for people who remember old Pepsi ads. There's a tendency for legacy brands to go the self-referential route on the Super Bowl: It gives you a nostalgic appeal and it means you don't have to come up with a new concept. Instead, you just remind people of your past successes and call it a day. This ad features glimpses of Pepsi luminaries like Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Jeff Gordon, Kyrie Irving, and Cindy Crawford -- but, uh, where is Kendall Jenner? Apparently, Pepsi's institutional memory has some convenient blind spots.
This commercial for Blacture, a new media brand from rapper, actor, and Fugees member Pras, didn't exactly give you a clear idea of what Blacture will actually be. But it grabbed your attention late in the game. That's more than we can say about most of these ads!
This 30-second spot is one of a handful of Toyota ads that aired during the game that all used the Olympics as a jumping off point. Of the three, this spot directed by filmmaker John Hillcoat (The Road) is probably the most generic one, skipping between a bunch of stories instead of focussing on a single narrative. But it's still more interesting than some of the less inspired wannabe tear-jerkers on this list.
Marvel's Black Panther drives around in a fancy new Lexus in this movie tie-in that doesn't really have much going on, but it gets by on mood. The actors look cool and relaxed. Plus, adding Run the Jewels to your soundtrack is a smart choice.
12. Michelob ULTRA
We're now a few years into Chris Pratt looking super swole all the time -- he got ripped for Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2013 -- so it's not surprising to see for the formerly schlubby actor make an ad where he goes overboard "prepping" for a role as the Michelob spokesperson. We get it: he's jacked. But isn't this a little late? The whole self-deprecating in-shape action hero schtick is beginning to feel a little stale, no?
The brands are at it again. In the world of fast food internet, Wendy's has made a name for itself with a cheeky social media presence, so it's not surprising to see the company turn up the heat on its biggest rival McDonalds. They don't exactly draw blood, but I suppose it's entertaining to see Wendy's take a swing.
Really, we should all use this perfectly fine ad as an opportunity to direct people to Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, where she told a story about taking Will and Jada Pinkett Smith on a GroupOn swamp tour. It's a classic.
Jeff Goldblum returns to the Super Bowl with this ad that uses footage from Jurassic Park to sell you a Jeep. We see Young Goldblum saying "Must go faster!" and then suddenly Old Goldblum is in the driver seat, looking gray and dapper as he runs down a hungry T-Rex. It's like a more endearing version of that Kia commercial where Steven Tyler de-ages himself. Clearly, Goldblum isn't afraid of the passage of time. He is still afraid of dinosaurs.
Amazon's Alexa, the favorite device of people who like to yell their grocery list at a robot, gets its own Super Bowl spot this year, and it's a star-studded affair. In addition to featuring a cameo from the company's head honcho Jeff Bezos, the clip also boasts appearances from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, comedian Rebel Wilson, rapper Cardi B, and actor Anthony Hopkins. It's exactly the type of commercial you'd expect from a company that can spend $10 million per episode on a Billy Bob Thornton legal drama! Look at all that money!
SNL alum Bill Hader plays an actor who takes a break from mugging it up in some historical epic to chomp down on some snacks. The whole multi-flavor Pringles stacking strategy seems like an unwise move from a dietary perspective, but don't hold that against this otherwise pleasant commercial.
Avocados From Mexico/YouTube
The brand name odor repellent had a pretty funny commercial in 2017 and they're back with another clever spot about a guy whose "bleep" doesn't stink. It's one of the few "humorous" commercials that doesn't rely on a celebrity cameo to sell the joke this year, which almost feels like an accomplishment. Hats off to to you, popular toilet spray.
5. Avocados From Mexico
Over the last few years, Avocados From Mexico has taken over the same quirky lane that a brand like Quiznos used to occupy, putting together Super Bowl ads that feel more like Adult Swim bumpers than conventional, somber spots. This one is a goofy Bio-Dome riff that starts with a simple idea and gets more and more absurd over its quick runtime. (Also, Chris Elliott is in it giving out autographs because why not?)
Of the many "inspirational" ads this year, this well-edited spot is the most legitimately moving one. It features Lauren Woolstencroft, an eight-time gold medalist Paralympic alpine skier, and tells her story from birth to Olympic glory. For such a quick commercial, it doesn't skip the combination of anger and determination that can drive a world-class athlete. It doesn't exactly make you want to buy a car, but it does make you want to see a movie about Lauren's incredible journey.
"Just your typical Super Bowl car ad..." So begins this winking spot from Tide, which parodies a wide range of Super Bowl commercial tropes with often winning results. We get the guy in the suit driving the car, the friends hanging out at a bar, the spokesperson floating in a surreal dreamscape, the men in cowboy hats bid for authenticity, and even more of your groan-worthy favorites. What ties it all together? Stranger Things star David Harbour, who really should just be in all the commercials.
This feels like a variation on the famous Jean Claude Van-Damme splits commercial for Volvo from a few years ago: Action hero commits impressive physical act in calming, quasi-Zen atmosphere. In this clip, it's Keanu Reeves and he's riding a motorcycle that eventually takes off into the sky. Like Reeves himself, it's odd and charming. It's also one of the only ads I'd gladly re-watch.
Let me get my bias out of the way here: Danny DeVito rules. Besides being one of America's most under-appreciated comedic actors and a gifted director, he's also responsible for one of the greatest Tweets of all time. He's a legend. So, when the little red M&M transformed into him, I was on board with this commercial, even though in the past I've been resistant to some of the candy company's other ads. (I don't like the one where everyone wants to have sex with the lady chocolate.) When he got hit by the bus? I laughed again. That's two solid laughs. Anyway, Danny DeVito is cool and this commercial was good.
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