Remember when Super Bowl ads were funny?
Clever commercials and an afternoon of snacks and beer were some of the only draws for people who didn’t care about the game itself.
These extra eyeballs helped inflate the Super Bowl’s viewership well beyond what it would have been as just another championship game, which in turn led to even more expensive ad spots.
The cycle should have been vicious. Instead, it’s become boring and stale.
Watching Super Bowl commercials used to be a lot of fun. Sometimes, the commercials were better than the game itself. But these days, the expensive ad budgets must have led to cuts in the creativity department.
The thrill is gone. Or the comedy, at any rate.
Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots was a great game—but its array of commercials were among the worst I’ve ever been unlucky enough to sit through.
There used to be some competition between advertisers. Yes, you’d get your fair share of slick car commercials and TV programming, but you’d also get a few good ones from Budweiser, Doritos, and the like. It was enough to keep you watching during the breaks, anyways.
Those days are gone. The usually funny Doritos commercials were nowhere to be seen. Instead, Doritos spent $4.5 million dollars on a 30-second spot just to make an extended ”when pigs fly” joke. Boy, nobody saw that coming. Next time you borrow humor from second-graders, at least include some potty jokes.
Lame attempts at humor weren’t even the worst of the bunch.
Bright idea of the century: Make Super Bowl ads dark and gloomy.
Nationwide’s childhood death ad was not only depressing, it was exploitative and insulting, playing on our fears in an age where parents already freak out way too much about their kids’ safety.
Actually, a lot of the ads this year were somber, including a spot for Nissan that should have been far more exciting given its race-car theme.
Victoria Secret managed to be boring in spite of its array of hot models.
Kim Kardashian was…well, look, I’m still not sure who Kim Kardashian is or why she would inspire anyone to go with T-Mobile. The ad was neither funny nor informative. It was just…Kim Kardashian.
Meanwhile, Budweiser is so far past its marketing heyday, it would probably have better luck just bringing back the “Bud—Weis—Er” frog commercials. Though maybe I’m wrong about that. Cute puppies are hard to beat. And a live-action PacMan maze is a neat idea. Okay, so Budweiser is a shadow of its former marketing self, but they’re not the worst of the bunch.
Carl’s Jr. had their trashy fast-food ad, and Jeff Bridges hummed people to sleep for SquareSpace. And the collective yawn continued.
A few rays of sunshine amid the darkness.
There were brief moments of respite at least.
Parks & Rec actor Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) touted NASCAR after the game with a mildly funny ode. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a good ad or if I’m just a Ron Swanson fanboy. Personally, I prefer Offerman’s ode to whiskey.
TurboTax’s Boston Tea Party spot was entertaining enough—a nice alt-history look at how colonial rebels might have reacted if the British had offered them free tax returns:
I enjoyed the Minions, of course. And it was kinda funny to see Walter White again in an Esurance commercial—though perhaps the ad comes too far after Breaking Bad’send.
And the blue ribbon goes to…
My favorite spot of the entire evening—outside of a handful of decent movie trailers (Jurassic World!)—was Snickers.
The candy bar stole the show with perhaps the best ad of thegame—a clever Brady Bunch spot starring Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi. It’s not the best Super Bowl ad I’ve ever seen, but it was funny and clever enough to rise above the rest of the pack.
So here it is, folks, the best Super Bowl ad of 2015. Feast your eyes:
For a brief moment, it was as if I were watching a Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez collaborative take on the Brady Bunch. And that made the whole thing worth it.
For 2016, I have a challenge and a plea to advertisers and the corporations who hire them: Get your game on. I dare you to just try to be funny. If you can’t, businesses should look to YouTube, crowd-sourcing and other avenues.
There are plenty of funny people out there who can sell you a pen.