From silly to sappy to serious, here are the commercials that everyone was talking about after the game ended.
Thanks to some digital trickery, we go back to the suburban home of “The Brady Bunch,” where Marcia is upset that a football has ruined her nose for the big dance. Except Marcia is played by “Sons of Anarchy” actor Danny Trejo, who growls, “An eye for an eye,” and hits the coffee table with an axe.
But when Mrs. Brady hands him a Snickers bar, he’s transformed back into the sweet-talking, silken-haired Marcia, because “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Tell that to Steve Buscemi, er, Jan, who reenacts that famous “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” meltdown.
Clash of Clans
Liam Neeson takes his mobile gaming VERY seriously in this commercial for this multiplayer fantasy game. He revisits his “Taken” character, vowing revenge on BigBuffetBoy85: “If you think you can humiliate me and take my gold, think again. I’m coming for you with lots of barbarians and dragons.” In both star power and concept, it’s a step up from most game commercials, which rely only on imagery from the game to sell itself. And it gets another laugh out of the barista who mispronounces Neeson’s name when he comes to pick up his scone.
In this chilling PSA, we see a household with broken items and hear a woman’s voice calling 911 to order a pizza — and covertly report her partner’s abuse. It’s taken almost word-for-word from a Reddit thread about 911 operators that went viral earlier this year.
Watching this commercial slowly unfold — the subtle clues scattered in the house, the woman’s calm and steady voice, the sudden realization of the operator — is utterly heartbreaking. It’s also a masterpiece of a PSA, impactful without being over the top (you never hear violence or see bruises) and smart enough to let viewers fill in the blanks for themselves.
Though there’s no NFL branding, NoMore.org is the NFL’s organization to combat domestic violence — a much-needed image booster after a year of criticism for the league’s handling of high-profile cases, most notably that of Ray Rice.
Newcastle + others
To save money on a pricey ad, Newcastle has split the cost of a commercial with 37 other companies — all of which must be mentioned or displayed by a frantic-looking duo of actors who quickly realize that their time is running out. They struggle so mightily to fit in all of their product placements that the commercial becomes a spastic grab at airtime as they talk over one another and stumble around the house amid their Quilted Northern toilet paper and Rosarita beans.
Making fun of the hype over Super Bowl ads is a niche that Newcastle carved out for itself last year, with its “If We Made It” non-ad starring Anna Kendrick. What this year’s effort lacks in star power it makes up in wit, as a clever sendup of the marketing orgy surrounding the big game. The ad only aired in select markets, but was popular online.
It’s the same formula as last year: puppies + horses + folksy, sentimental music = CUE THE WATERWORKS. This time, our little yellow lab friend and his horse pal get separated when the scared pup runs away during a car accident. An epic journey back to the barn ensues. The horses sense trouble, and they come to his rescue. And, like clockwork, Americans everywhere began to wonder if someone is chopping onions somewhere, because anyone who isn’t ugly-crying by the end of this commercial is probably a robot. Do these tortilla chips have extra seasoning? They’re salted with your tears.
Honestly, Budweiser: At this point, you are the cruel arbiters of flat-out emotional manipulation. But the thing is, it totally works — even when we know what’s about to happen, because this is basically the same commercial as last year. It’s that little puppy whimper, right? Oh my God, it gets me every time.
We open on chaos: The end is nigh. There are hurricanes in Nebraska, fish raining from the sky, and the laws of gravity have ceased to exist. Dogs are walking their owners! Because, ugh, it’s so annoying when our heavenly father’s iPhone runs out of juice. It’s probably the best tagline of the entire Super Bowl: “When your phone dies, God knows what can happen.”
An unexpected triumph, this is one of those ads that is singularly clever enough to put a less-known company on the map. This perfectly captures the emotional tailspin and subsequent despair many Millennials are thrown into when they realize their phone has died before they had a chance to Instagram that perfect latte art.
No one notices what Mindy Kaling does, so she’s convinced that she is invisible and thus, freed of all social conventions: she can eat ice cream out of the carton in the store and sunbathe naked and take a super-weird shower by walking through the car wash. But when she sneaks up on Matt Damon and smells his neck, he recoils. “You can see me?” she asks. “You don’t want to kiss just to make sure?” It works on two levels — as a subtle feminist statement about women of color struggling to be noticed, and simply as a cheeky, clever commercial with great celebrity cameos.
Kim Kardashian, the queen of First World Problems, talks about one of them: the tragedy of unused cellphone data that doesn’t roll over to the following month. All of that lost data is depriving customers of chances to see Kim’s makeup, her outfits, her vacations and once more — for emphasis, this time — her outfits, all of which accentuate her #breaktheinternet assets.
This may give some Kardashian-haters whiplash. Does her ability to make fun of herself make her more likable? Whether you love her or hate her, this commercial caters to you. (Well, unless you think the Kardashians are overexposed and grimace every time you see one of their faces on TV. If so, this commercial is your nightmare.)
The insurance company perfects the art of the celebrity cameo in its two spots, built around the tagline, “Sorta you isn’t you.” Lindsay Lohan spoofs her history of car accidents and DUIs and “Breaking Bad” fans get a Bryan-Cranston-as-Walter-White bit when he stands in for a pharmacist. (“We both have a lot of experience with drugs — sorry, pharmaceuticals.”)
America’s favorite lumbersexual, Nick Offerman, makes the pitch for NASCAR, which is a genius casting move: His red-meat-eating, wilderness-loving ways are in lockstep with NASCAR’s typical audience, but he’s beloved by millennial urbanites, who are less likely to be interested in watching cars zoom around a track, unless they’re doing it ironically.
He kicks it off by imploring Americans to do a gut-check: “When our idea of danger is eating gluten, there’s trouble afoot.” Then, Offerman teaches us how to be a True American Patriot in a series of vignettes that would make our Founding Fathers proud: barbecue, keg-erators, hot tubs, double-necked guitars and, most of all, NASCAR.
“Welcome to the place where we speed all day, where we bump and grind in a nonsexual way,” he chants. “Welcome to the place where your beast is free, like the rubber hooves of a tire stampede.” It’s enough to make you want a “Talladega Nights” sequel, starring Offerman.