The Denver Broncos' 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 wasn't very easy to watch. Von Miller and the Denver defense kept doing what they had done all season--harass the quarterback and stymie the opposing offense into oblivion. Tom Brady and Cam Newton couldn't even get close to the numbers that Teddy Bridgewater put up against Denver's defense this year. (C'mon, this is a Vikings site. Like I wasn't going to throw that in.)
The Broncos' performance was impressive but it wasn't exactly aesthetically pleasing. The two teams combined to go 4/29 on third down. There were six turnovers, twelve sacks, 15 punts, and 18 penalties. Denver had 194 total yards, gained 3.5 yards per play, had the ball for just over 27 minutes, and won by two touchdowns. I'm sure Mike Zimmer appreciated the game but most casual fans that were watching to be entertained while they downed three pounds of bean dip probably left the game feeling a little disappointed.
Especially if the casual fans were "only watching for the commercials."
Judging from the batch of commercials we saw during Super Bowl 50, it seems to be more and more difficult to capture the zeitgeist of a country that has increasingly splintered into niches and special interests. There is no universal theme or joke that will tickle the fancy of most Americans anymore. So advertising agencies seem to be creating commercials that are extremely specific, extremely serious, or extremely weird. And if the commercials don't hit any of those beats, they're probably just extremely confusing.
The game last night wasn't pretty and most of the commercials followed suit. Here's a completely arbitrary ranking of the top 50 commercials* that aired during the Super Bowl Sunday broadcast. It's a good way to rehash what you saw last night and catch up on anything you missed while you had to pee.
(* = I didn't include local commercials (because not everyone saw them) and movie previews. Either you think the movie looks good or you don't--no need for me to explain those, right? Also, I'm sure I still missed a handful in this list but if you care that much about the commercials we're already getting way too close to Idiocracy coming true.)
1. Doritos: "Ultrasound"
This had to be last night's winner. It was the most memorable and funny ad of the bunch. The payoff was equal parts surprise, horror, and laughs. It was definitely an off year for commercials overall but Doritos got everything right in this one. Even if it made millions of women across the country wince.
2. Kia Optima: "Walken Closet"
It's impossible to put Christopher Walken in anything and have me dislike it. And Walken went Full Walken in this bad boy. In fact, come to think of it, Walken had a better Super Bowl performance than either quarterback.
3. Amazon Echo: Baldwin Bowl Party
This series of commercials was really solid. It featured Alec Baldwin and Dan Marino poking fun of each other (and themselves) while Baldwin hosted a lavish Super Bowl party. Jason Schwartzman basically playing every character he has ever done felt a little unnecessary but he didn't take away from anything. This ad did the actual advertising--showing what the Echo does and dropping Missy Elliott's new single--in a fun and entertaining way.
4. Pantene: "Dad-Do"
I probably have this ranked too high, but I feel like this commercial was made just for me. I'm a dad, I love football, and I really suck at doing my daughter's hair. Short and sweet. Good work Pantene.
5. Hyundai: Ryan Reynolds "Ryanville"
Hyundai went celebrity-heavy with their ads, and this one was pretty clever. My wife certainly perked up when she saw it, which is exactly what Hyundai was looking for with this one. Good cross-promotion for Reynolds too, who has Deadpool coming out this week.
6. T-Mobile: Steve Harvey "Drop the Balls"
It turns out that Steve Harvey screwing up that meaningless pageant was the best thing that ever happened to his career. Smart use of a recent viral moment by T-Mobile.
7. Toyota Prius: "The Longest Chase"
A little corny and unrealistic, but nicely done. It gets bonus points for setting the record for the most "hey I recognize that guy from that one show!" guys in one commercial.
8. Apartments.com "Movin' On Up"
The first half of this commercial was kind of lame and in the "weird for the sake of being weird" category. But for me, the "George and Weezy" bit saved it. (If you don't get the joke, we can't be friends.)
9. Avocados From Mexico: "Avocados in Space"
Hey look, some humor that actually worked! It wasn't especially sophisticated but it took some low-hanging fruit and executed it well. We humans are indeed an odd race.
10. Mountain Dew Kickstart: "Puppymonkeybaby"
This commercial was pure nightmare fuel, but you have to give it credit for being incredibly memorable. Chances are at least a half dozen of your friends that don't really like football were posting about it on Facebook last night.
11. Heinz: "Wiener Stampede"
In this age of making super-weird commercials with digital animals doing unnatural things (much more on that later), it was nice to see Heinz sticking to real, cute animals for their ad.
12. Esurance: "Pass It On"
When everyone else was getting preachy or weird last night, Esurance stuck with the time honored tradition of slapstick humor. It worked pretty well.
13. Intuit QuickBooks: "Death Wish Coffee"
A nice, inventive quirk to give a small company a glimpse of the big stage, and they did so in an entertaining manner. New and creative is always a good formula.
14. NFL: "Super Bowl Babies"
Nothing better to promote the game of football than kids singing about their parents doin' it to the tune of a Seal song! I appreciate the creativity and execution but can't completely get over the creepiness.
15. Taco Bell: "Bigger Than..."
If you're going to do topical internet humor in a Super Bowl commercial, you might as well do a whole slew of it just to make sure everyone will get at least part of the joke. So that's what Taco Bell did.
16. Mini: "Defy Labels"
Celebrities acting like bad asses to sell your product with a slight twist. Simple, straight to the point, and effective work from Mini.
17. Bud Light: "The Bud Light Party"
A good idea that could have been better executed on a different platform. Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer are smart choices as relevant comedians in Bud Light's target market, but both of their performances seemed muted compared to what we're used to hearing them say.
18. Buick: "She Odell'd That!"
Odell Beckham Jr. is certainly cashing in on that catch. Adding Emily Ratajkowski can never hurt either.
19. Acura: "What He Said"
Simple, clever, and it looked cool. Good ingredients for a Super Bowl commercial.
20. Hyundai: Kevin Hart "First Date"
A decent start for one of the first commercials of the night, which also fulfilled the apparent law that Kevin Hart must be in every major form of media at all times. It was a cute way to show off a new car feature, even if the "overbearing dad" bit has been done plenty of times.
21. Axe: "Find Your Magic"
Kudos to Axe for finding a creative way to finally do the "everyone is beautiful in their own way" message for guys. But negative points for still being the company that became popular on the "use our products to get chicks" message in the first place.
22. LG: "Man from the Future"
If you can't get Christopher Walken to go Full Walken for your Super Bowl commercial, having Liam Neesen go Full Neesen isn't a bad consolation. Unfortunately for LG, I assumed this was a preview for some weird Tron and Taken mashup movie until the very end.
23. Wix.com: "Kung Fu Panda"
I'm not sure why Kung Fu Panda is still a thing, but it was a nice touch to include references to other classic Super Bowl commercials.
24. Audi R8: "Commander"
An old spaceship commander has lost his zeal for life. But his son makes him drive his new Audi, which is just like the ol' spaceship he used to fly around back in the 60's! ZEAL FOR LIFE: RESTORED.
25. TurboTax: "Never a Sellout"
I didn't realize there was such a market for beloved aging actors to shill products to us until compiling this list. This one with Anthony Hopkins was cute even if it stole its beats from Wayne's World.
26. Shocktop: "Unfiltered Talk"
I love T.J. Miller but I think his comedic talents could have been used better than talking sh*t to a draft tap.
27. Michelob Ultra: "Breathe"
"For the alcoholic that also likes to work out!" I feel like this ad spoke directly to me! That said, Michelob Ultra still isn't good.
28. Budweiser: Helen Mirren "Give A Damn"
"If you're an alcoholic that likes to work out, that's fine. But you sure as hell better not drive drunk or this British lady is going to say some pretty mean shit about you!" It's a good message. That said, it still feels like McDonald's telling you to eat their food all the time but don't get fat.
29. Butterfinger: "Bolder Than Bold"
Much like the candy bars itself, this commercial seemed like a good idea at first but ended up making a mess.
30. T-Mobile: "Restricted Bling"
This was a solid idea that was poorly timed and executed. "Hotline Bling" and Drake's corresponding dance in the video was all over the internet a few months ago but felt like old hat last night. Plus the jokes weren't especially funny. This idea felt like it was cultivated in October but already expired by February.
31. Snickers: "Marilyn"
I liked Willem Dafoe dressing up in drag a lot better when he did it in Boondock Saints.
32. PayPal: "There's a New Money in Town"
In a night full of generic faceless ads, this was the most generic and faceless. How about less time making boring commercials and more time making sure our accounts don't get hacked every few months?
I wonder if they PayPal'd CBS for their fee.
33. Pokemon: "Train On"
I didn't really get it but I bet little brothers all across the country loved this one.
34. SunTrust: "Hold Your Breath"
This commercial was Big Advertising 101. Have a celebrity voiceover (Gary Sinise--check). Stand out among the noise (ticking clock and subdued audio--check). Create audience engagement (hold your breath--check). Use stock footage of life events that are easily relatable to mass audiences (check and check). But was it entertaining or memorable? Not really.
35. Quicken Loans: "What We Were Thinking"
Interesting commercial and novel idea, but I'm still not going to be comfortable with making a life-changing purchase like buying a freaking house by clicking a single button on my phone for a while.
36. KFC: "Dream"
A while back I had heard that KFC is just going to keep rotating the actors that play the colonel in their commercials. It had already changed from Darrell Hammond to Norm MacDonald a few months ago. I guess they chose the Super Bowl to pass the torch again from MacDonald to Jim Gaffigan.
Yeah, I don't get it either.
37. Colgate: "Every Drop Counts"
"I've been swilling beer and consuming food that's terrible for me at an alarming rate while watching 250 pound men compete in gladiator-like battle for my entertainment for nearly four hours. You know what I'd really like? A commercial that scolds me like my mom used to do when I was five years old!"
Yes, water preservation is super important, but it's such a downer on Super Sunday.
38. Shick Hydro: "Robot Razors"
Way to capitalize on all that brand-new Transformers hype, Shick! Super timely.
39. Doritos: Dogs
The "dressing in a trench coat to look like a human" gag is incredibly played out and only funny if it's in BoJack Horseman.
40. Xifaxan: "Gut Guy"
I would HATE to work at the Xifaxan headquarters. I bet that place is lousy with posters, figurines, and post-its plastered with that weird pink stomach guy. It's hard to argue that Xifaxan could have chose a better time to spend ad dollars with all the terrible food people were consuming yesterday. Although I'm sure lots of their potential best customers missed it while they were in the bathroom.
41. Hyundai: "The Chase"
Hyundai's worst contribution to the show last night. Mostly because I'm really sick of talking digital animals. It was cute and revolutionary in 1992 but it is soooooo played out in 2016.
42. Coca-Cola: "Coke Mini"
I don't even want to know how much Coke shelled out for the rights to both Super Bowl airtime and Marvel to make this 100% forgettable ad.
43. SoFi: "Great Loans for Great People"
"Jill is great."
"This commercial couldn't be further from great."
44. Victoria's Secret: "Score More"
Oof. It's like someone on the VS marketing team said "I want all of the cheesiness and condescending sexism of the 80's Super Bowl ads, but WITHOUT the gratuitous T&A!" I hope Erin Andrews only took this gig because she's friends with a few of the models or something.
45. Skittles: "The Portrait"
I know Skittles is notorious for weird commercials, but at least their previous work was weird in a fun way. This was just bad.
46. Marmot: "Love The Outside"
Again, I am sooooooooooo done with digital anthropomorphic animals in Super Bowl commercials. Especially when they're inexplicably on a homoerotic camping trip.
47. Honda Ridgelline: "A New Truck to Love"
KNOCK IT OFF! NO MORE DIGITAL ANIMALS!! AND WHY THE F*CK WOULD I EVER NEED A TRUCK BED AUDIO SYSTEM?! THAT'S WHAT REGULAR SPEAKERS ARE FOR!!!
48. OICisDifferent.com: "Envy"
An avant garde art film about not being able to poop.
49. Dollar Shave Club: "Zeke"
You know what's worse than thinking about constipation or diarrhea? Thinking about what's on that razor.
50. Campbell's Chunky Soup: "This One's for Mom"
Aww, what a sweet commercial. A mom that was there for every step of her son's career.
Wait, WHAT?! He signed with the PACKERS?! This commercial is dead to me.