A polarized America can’t even agree on which commercials were the best and worst. There are, undoubtedly, just as many people who would like to see the pro-immigrant Budweiser and 84 Lumber ads on this list as there are people who would say they’re the best of the night. But putting the deliberately provocative ads aside, there was a lot of mediocrity during this Super Bowl — bland ads that made us feel meh.
These ads aren’t as bad as some of the worst ads from previous years — let us not forget the gross GoDaddy commercials, or the Nationwide “Dead Kid” commercial of Super Bowls past — but they’re definitely the cringeworthiest of an already forgettable crop.
It’s not just that this ad that perpetuates the tired, sex-starved, desperate housewife stereotype, as well as the notion that bumbling husbands can’t possibly be good at cleaning. It’s that Mr. Clean’s pants are so, so tight, and his gyrations so realistic. Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley? It’s the concept that people like animated characters to have some humanlike characteristics, but if they look too realistic, they become physically repulsive. That’s the scientific explanation for the yucked-out feeling you got when Mr. Clean was grinding up on that mop.
“Wanna pet my roo?”
No, thanks, I’m good.
This local commercial enlisted a third-rate Donald Trump impersonator to sell gas fireplaces, with some tired jokes: “Washington is so cold. I thought Russia was cold!” says the president, who notes that this sale is yuuuge. A fake CNN chyron changes the network’s logo to “Live FIRE,” which seems like a telling reference. But having a Trump impersonator so close on the heels of yet another Alec Baldwin performance as the president on SNL is a risk that doesn’t quite pay off.
That tapping noise you heard during the fourth quarter was the sound of millennials across America Googling: “Who is Spuds MacKenzie?” The famous canine pitchman might be nostalgic for some, but other people were sad to be reminded that the dog was, in fact, dead. And, reincarnated as a drunken ghost dog-bro, Spuds is actually kind of creepy. Maybe we’ve taken nostalgia too far.
Just before she leapt into NRG Stadium to deliver a patriotic, high-energy halftime show, Lady Gaga appeared in a commercial for Tiffany’s. Ostensibly, the ad featured Lady Gaga talking about the luxury jewelry purveyor. But it felt more like Gaga talking about Gaga. At one point, it seemed as if the singer felt she needed to justify doing a Tiffany’s ad.
“I am a rebel, but I wouldn’t say that me transforming at 19 into the artist I became was purely just because of rebellion,” the singer told us. “It was more a sense of power that I felt. I always want to be challenging the status quo. I love to change; it makes me feel alive. I’m too strange. I’m too different. I’m too out there. I’m too artistic. Oh, it’s pretentious to talk about how creative you are. I don’t feel that way at all. I think it’s empowering and important.”
Oh, Gaga, who are you trying to convince?