Over a hundred million Americans tuned in on Sunday to watch Super Bowl LVI. While many viewers were watching to see the Los Angeles Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals, others were watching to take part in the unique tradition of enjoying the commercials aired during the game.
From electric cars to non-food delivery, here is a rundown of what the best and the worst Super Bowl commercials had to offer.
With a cast consisting of both unknown actors as well as known names, such as Jennifer Coolidge and Gwenyth Paltrow, Uber Eats users discover the hard way that Uber Eats also delivers “Uber Don’t Eats.” Diapers are devoured, dish soap is slurped and Paltrow eats a candle from her lifestyle brand, Goop. She remarks that the candle tastes “not bad, but funny,” while a warning at the bottom of the screen tells viewers to not “eat anatomy candles.”
Like many others, Uber Eats takes the traditional Super Bowl commercial route by using humor and recognizable names to advertise. In doing so, their message comes across clearly. Additionally, the humor is sharp and clever.
General Motors used another common tactic for Super Bowl commercials: throwbacks to beloved movies. For this year’s commercial, they reunited the original members of Dr. Evil’s cabinet from the Austin Powers movies to take over General Motors’ headquarters. This included the original cast members, such as Mike Myers and Seth Green.
Dr. Evil, once again trying to take over the world, learns from the others that he is no longer the number one threat to the world; climate change is. Refusing to be in second place, Dr. Evil supports the new electric vehicles produced by General Motors to help reduce carbon emissions.
Electric car commercials dominated the Super Bowl commercial this year, but this one stood out to me the most. In addition to the all-star cast from a beloved classic film series, the commercial also finds a unique way to present its product in a saturated market. It brings up the benefits of an electric car for the environment without being overly preachy, and throws in a few jokes that land well. I’m definitely alright with considering it a part of the Austin Powers canon.
Like the previous entries, this Toyota commercial relies on its celebrity power. In it, actor Tommy Lee Jones races with comedians Leslie Jones and Rashida Jones in their Toyota trucks to discover who is the number one Jones. The race culminates at the top of a snowy hill, where Nick Jonas arrives in his own Toyota truck, declaring, “It’s keeping up with the Jonases now.”
This commercial, while simple, is a lot of fun. There’s no constant dialogue like the General Motors commercial or silly gags like the Uber Eats commercial, but it stands out with its humorous concept and interesting visuals. It manages both to deliver a joke, but also show off the capability of Toyota trucks in various terrains.
In yet another celebrity-centered commercial, real life couple Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost imagine what it would be like if their Amazon Alexa had psychic abilities.
This is another humorous commercial that does well, largely based on the performances of Johansson and Jost, who present themselves as an ordinary, yet goofy couple. The imaginary psychic Alexa reveals that Johansson wakes up with severe morning breath and that Jost would rather fake his own death than attend a quirky play Johansson is in.
In the end, the two realize it’s better that Alexa doesn’t read their minds. Not only is this a well-delivered joke, but it also dismisses the common fear that an Alexa device knows too much of the people that own it. I am still terrified that an Alexa will listen in to my every conversation, but at least with this commercial, I can have a good laugh about it.
Alright, I may be a little biased by my love for Doja Cat in this decision, but I believe the Taco Bell commercial is the best one aired during the Super Bowl this year.
The commercial starts with Doja Cat attending a clown college. All attendees of the college appear exhausted and burnt out from their studies, so they decide to take a wild trip to Taco Bell–something I’m sure all Albion College students can relate to.
This commercial stands out to me, not just because of its unique blend of subtle humor with wonderful practical effects, costuming and makeup, but because of the music featured. For this promotion, Doja Cat recorded and released a cover of Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.” The song is a distinct turn from the rest of Doja Cat’s discography and was a pleasant surprise to receive.
Bud Light NEXT
For a regular commercial, this ad for Bud Light NEXT is far from bad. It features a wonderful track by Barbara Streisand and some interesting visuals. However, when lined up and compared with some of the other commercials presented at the Super Bowl this year, it falls flat. The only thing worse than a jarringly bad commercial is one that is forgettable, and this one will probably be gone from your mind after the first watch.
When using celebrity power for your commercial, it’s best to feature the celebrity in such a way that you could not replace the celebrity with a random person and the message would stay the same. While the Manning family is featured in this Caesars Sportsbooks ad, they do little but add some recognizable faces to the screen. That doesn’t go very far, especially when Peyton Manning is a frequent commercial guest to multiple companies.
Meta Quest 2
In an obvious reference to the animatronic pizza restaurants of yore, this commercial features an animatronic dog (that is much less creepy than the real animatronics featured in pizza restaurants) switches hands with many owners after his restaurant closes permanently.
The dog finds a new life, however, in the virtual reality (VR) experience of Meta Quest 2. With this new chance at life and the endless possibilities of VR, however, he simply returns to the way life was before.
The virtual social world from Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is already a hard sell on a person like me, who lives in fear of technology taking over our lives. When you market your product as a place to replicate already existing or formerly existing real life spaces, I can’t say I’m too persuaded.
I’ll say it if no one else will: I do not like the E*TRADE baby. I believe the initial commercial campaign featuring the E*TRADE baby in 2008 was humorous at first, but it has been 14 years. I think it is time to let the E*TRADE baby enjoy his retirement and look towards other cute things we can animate in CGI.
Google Pixel 6
This commercial starts off with some facts about camera technology that are actually true: camera technology has historically failed in accurately representing dark skin tones. This is especially true in situations with dim or dark lighting, as demonstrated with the photos featured at the beginning of the ad.
Where this ad fails, however, is the lack of examples of where this problem is fixed by the Google Pixel 6. It shows people of all skin colors, in addition to those with dark skin, photographed in bright settings with good lighting.
This commercial would be fantastic if it truly presented a fix to presenting dark skin tones in low light or backlit situations. However, it fails to do so and instead reads like a company using real issues of inequity to sell a product.