Super Bowl Ad Power Rankings: This May Be The Most Controversial Commercial Of All
Only two days left until Super Bowl LI, which means of course Super Bowl commercials ... can you smell the capitalism? Come with us now as we rank all ads released so far. Yes, ALL of them! Ah hahahaha! (If you don't mind spoilers, that is).
This is the year of the Super Bowl commercial trigger warning -- be prepared to talk politics at your Big Game party, folks. You've got your German immigrant coming to America in a Budweiser ad; you've got Melissa McCarthy saving the trees -- and the rhinos -- for Kia; Audi makes a big statement about women's rights ... as does Hulu, which is running an ad for its original series, The Handmaid's Tale, which is about a military dictatorship. And there's even Humpty Dumpty literally falling off of a wall.
And speaking of walls, 84 Lumber is rolling out possibly the most controversial ad off all. Last month you may recall that the Pennsylvania-based company had its Super Bowl ad rejected by Fox, which deemed the spot "too political." So 84 Lumber reworked it, and this is the result (below).
It depicts a woman and her daughter crossing the desert, apparently from Mexico, toward the United States. It's a poignant portrait of a search for a better life, which has already inflamed passions on both sides of the immigration issue, if the YouTube comments are any indication.
84 Lumber intends the 90-second spot as the first of two parts -- the second which will be released on YouTube the day of the game, and on its web site. Part II is no doubt a version of the ad that was rejected by Fox. (Update: 84 Lumber told AdWeek that Part II will indeed be about "immigration").
The ad is aimed toward young men (and women, I'd suppose) who are looking for work, as 84 Lumber is seeking to dramatically increase its labor force going into the new year. Well, this oughta do it. Let the controversy begin.
The Power Rankings
1. Mercedes-Benz: "Easy Driver"
With films such as Fargo, Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brothers are nearly as iconic as Peter Fonda and the 1969 classic Easy Rider. Now the three come together for a Super Bowl commercial. The Coens wrote and directed this one, for Mercedes-Benz, their first since making a Super Bowl ad for H&R Block in 2002.
2. Honda: "Yearbooks"
If my high school yearbook suddenly came to life, the discussions would be slightly different than these above. For one thing, there would be many reprisals ... bloody, terrible reprisals. But inspiring, heartfelt messages are OK too, such as Stan Lee's "If you want to make a universe, make a universe." That one actually gave me chills.
3. Turbo Tax: "Humpty Fall"
TurboTax is back for the fourth consecutive year with a 45-second spot, starring Humpty Dumpty.
4. Budweiser: "Born The Hard Way"
The political ad that isn't, Anheuser-Busch's ode to German immigrant founder Adolphus Busch is actually a one-minute biopic. It reportedly cost upwards of $15 million including production costs, and A-B is gambling that it will give faltering Budweiser a shot in the arm in its fight against craft beer.
5. Kia: "Hero's Journey"
The full ad was just released Wednesday, showing Melissa McCarthy working hard to save the planet. She is not the eco-warrior we deserve right now, but she's the one we need. Especially with Trump in charge.
6. 84 Lumber: "The Journey Begins"
See details above.
7. Skittles: "Romance"
America's most popular non-chocolate candy checks in with their new ad, and it's an upgrade from last year's bizarre Steven Tyler nightmare-inducing effort. "Katy! ..."
8. Bud Light: "Ghost Spuds"
Thirty years after his debut in Super Bowl XXI, Spuds MacKenzie is back ... in ghost form. The "original party animal" (voiced by Carl Weathers) is now a beer-stained Dickensian spirit who invades some dude's house to remind him that friends don't let friends not be buzzed. It's part of Bud Light's new friendship-focused campaign, and will air during the fourth quarter.
9. Mr. Clean: "Cleaner Of Your Dreams"
Believe it or not, Mr. Clean is coming up on his 60th anniversary next year. Making his debut in 1958, the Procter & Gamble cleaning product was invented by the owner of a shipping line who needed a non-toxic cleaning product that wouldn't make his workers sick.
When it was later released to the general public, Mr. Clean immediately became the top-selling household cleaner on the market. Its mascot, the smiling genie-in-a-cleaning-bottle, has changed little in 59 years -- in appearance, anyway. This year Procter & Gamble has introduced a new, sexy Mr. Clean, a detergent gigolo who just may seduce your wife if you're not vigilant. In its Super Bowl debut, Procter & Gamble gives us the new Mr. Clean. I feel a little dirty.
10. Go Daddy: "The Internet Wants You"
How many recent memes did you count in this commercial? I got 20 ... among them the Rick Roll sound track. That's the point of this spot, where the internet approves of what you're doing (sneezing panda).
11. T-Mobile: "Punished"
When my love of Kristen Schaal intersects with my love of unlimited phone data, the result is a high score in these rankings. 50 Shades of Streaming.
12. Wix: "Chef Felix"
Jason Statham and Gal Gadot would be better off making this a movie franchise.
13. Audi: "Daughter"
I didn't have much of a reaction to this ad one way or the other, except to note that hey, the soap box derby looks like fun. Then I read the YouTube comments. Whoa ... passionate reactions on both sides. Not sure how this is even a controversy -- sure, we move forward when we value the work of women as much as men. But not all agree with how this is presented, apparently.
14. Ford: "Go Further"
The kid hanging by his shoe by the top of a chain-link fence is worth the price of admission here, at least for me, because I witnessed something like that in real life and it was hilarious. This spot is growing on me -- I like it better on each new viewing. Especially cool is the song I Wish I Knew What It Was Like To be Free by Nina Simone. I'm moving this up on Friday.
15. Buick: "Not So Pee Wee Football"
What can Miranda Kerr and Cam Newton do today to get you into this car?
16. Squarespace: "Calling John Malcovich.com"
The actor can't believe that someone else has the domain name he wants. Drama ensues in a Burn After Reading kind of way.
17. T-Mobile: "Unlimited Moves"
First of all, Justin Bieber will never not be 12 years old, no matter how many tattoos he acquires. Also, Gronkowski is a perfect caveman. And what's Terrell Owens doing here again? It's all some tenuous connection between mobile phone service and end zone dance moves. UPDATE: T-Mobile reports that this video already has 13 million views on YouTube and Instagram.
18. Yellow Tail: "Kangaroo"
Wait, doesn't Anheuser-Busch have exclusive rights to alcohol advertising at the Super Bowl? Well, yes. But Yellow Tail got around that by producing this regional ad, which will be seen in 80 percent of the country.
19. Sprint: "Car"
Any commercial where a kid looks at his dad and asks "Isn't that illegal?" will always rate highly here. Sprint continues it's all-out war on Verizon, because it knows Verizon won't fight back.
20. Michelin: "I Need You"
Love your family? Buy quality tires. The Michelin Man has spoken.
21. Top Games USA Inc.: "The Battle Of Evony"
Top Games USA Inc. must have spent major cash producing this. If only they had Nintendo Switch, these warring factions could have worked out their differences without bloodshed.
22. Wendy's: "Cold Storage"
Wendy's is a little sensitive about the notion that their beef comes from frozen patties. Remember this?:
@NHride Sorry to hear you think that! But you're wrong, we've only ever used fresh beef since we were founded in 1969.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 2, 2017
@NHride Where do you store cold things that aren't frozen?
— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 2, 2017
@NHride You don't have to bring them into this just because you forgot refrigerators existed for a second there.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 2, 2017
So now they're advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in 40 years, where the world will finally realize that their beef is NOT FROZEN, DAMMIT!
23. Avocados From Mexico: "Secret Society"
Jon Lovitz is the best part of this, but he's only on screen for a moment. In other news, avocados are delicious and don't really need any hype.
24. NFL: "Super Bowl Babies"
Remember last year, when the NFL featured people born in the year that city last won a Super Bowl? Now there are more babies, this time representing NFL legends such as Mike Ditka and Bill Belichick. At least I think that's what's going on.
25. Nintendo Switch: "The Legend Of Zelda"
Cool device to insure nothing else ever gets done in your life.
26. Michelob Ultra: "Our Bar"
Nothing goes together like beer and exercise, right? Only when you hear the Cheers theme, you know they're holding the exercise. Look, one of the teams in the Super Bowl is from Boston, and when the viewers hear this music they're thinking about Norm and Cliff, not pushups.
27. Wonderful Pistachios: "Elephant Ernie Gets Physical"
Ernie The Elephant is back, this time in the gym. But we feel compelled to remind everyone that elephants are supposed to be fat -- if they lost a lot of weight, they wouldn't survive.
28. Febreze: "Bathroom Break"
We get the premise, but how many of your Super Bowl party guests are really going No. 2? If you're using that much Febreze, I'd look into what you're serving.
29. Tide: "Gronk's Cleaners Discount"
Tide is implying that there will be a Part II to this commercial when it appears on Sunday. I sure hope so. It will be nice to see Gronk during the game, and Jeffrey Tambor is always awesome. But the spot itself is rather mediocre.
30. LIFEWTR: "Inspiration Drops"
31. T-Mobile: "Bag Of Unlimited"
Casting opposites together is a time-honored Hollywood tradition, and that goes for commercials as well. But that doesn't mean you don't need to be original. How about establishing Martha Stewart as the one making pot references, and Snoop as the straight man? Now that would be funny.
32. Pepsi & Tostitos: "Super Bowl Party Planner"
Von Miller is here to save your Super Bowl party.
33. Intel: "Brady Everyday"
Intel replay can make anything epic, says this ad. I challenge the call.
34. Busch: "BUSCHHHHH"
Thanks to AdWeek, USA Today, Super Bowl Commercials, YouTube, Forbes.
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