Since the Super Bowl has rarely featured the Bears, I’ve had to turn my main attention from the game to the commercials.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the game; it gives me a chance to put out some fun food and not have to worry about a rooting interest.The commercials have become something of an art contest, and we as viewers get to decide who has created a masterpiece or who was playing with fingerpaints.
The “art” of Super Bowl commercial-making dates back to the Apple “1984” ad introducing the Macintosh. It went viral in the only way something COULD go viral in 1984 — by word of mouth and through the media outlets of the day in print and television.
In the years that followed, advertising agencies tried to one-up each other with their Super Bowl ads, even as the price for placement during the Big Game rose to astronomical levels. It became a highwire act that could make or break a company willing to take the chance.
Some commercials became regular classics, such as the Budweiser Clydesdale ads that every year seemed to be reliable ads.
Others employed animals, babies, aliens, and just about anything else they could think of. Commercials have run from farcical to thought-provoking to outright tear-inducing. Some have been controversial, either in tone, imagery, or in content with divisive issues.
In the last decade or so, commercials have pulled back in edginess, and with the ability to test ads online before the game, the idea of a grand unveiling during the contest is largely a thing of the past. The rise of social media, however, has made public critique of the commercials as popular as ever.
This year was no different. Commercial sneak-peeks provided a baseline for how the ads would be judged, and preconceived rankings generally held true.
My own personal list fell in line mostly with the rest of the viewers.
While it wasn’t really a true advertisement, my favorite piece was the NFL’s “Take it to the House” game intro featuring a young football player running across the country and encountering numerous current and former NFL players, culminating at the Miami Stadium, where he walks through a tunnel of the NFL’s 100 all-time legends. waiting at the end of the tunnel is Chicago Bears’ owner Virginia McCaskey, daughter of NFL founder George Halas, the longtime owner, player and coach of the Bears. She hands the Super Bowl game ball to the boy, and he and his friends rush onto the field in real time to deliver the ball to the referee.
It was a well-thought out production which initially brought a smile to my face, then a tear when I saw Mama Bear standing there at the end.
As for the rest of the commercials, here are my top five:
1. Jeep Groundhog Day
This was one of the commercials I saw ahead of time, and I thought it was fantastic. Several ads riffed off old movies, but this one did the best. And you cant miss with Bill Murray, along with several others from the film returning in original roles, including the groundhog. It’s fun ride (literally), with a great kicker at the end with Murray snowshoeing with the groundhog strapped to his chest, blaming the groundhog for not remembering where they parked.
2. Hyundai Smaht Pahk
Many times, the best commercials are made with famous actors. This one takes off from an old Saturday Night Live bit riffing on thick Boston accents, including John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch and a deadpan Chris Evans marveling at the self-parking Hyundai in quick-speak with as many area references as paaaah-sible. There’s a nice cameo at the end with David “Big Papi” Ortiz of the Red Sox.
3. Amazon Before Alexa
This one was a cute take with a lead-in from Ellen Degeneres wondering what life was like before the online assistant “Alexa” from Google, taking the viewer throughout history and takes on various forms of “Alexa” handling different tasks. It’s a major cinematic production, but well-designed and produced, and it pays off.
4. Google Loretta
One of the handful of commercials that went for straight emotional tug, Google shows off it’s online Assistant from the point of view of an older gentleman using the app to help him remember his (apparently) late wife and the highlights, photos and nuances of their time together, and holding those memories for him in case the day comes when he is unable to recall them. It’s effective on many levels, including showing that using technology isn’t just for younger people, and that it can be used for something good as opposed to the state of toxicity in social media.
5. Kia Tough Never Quits
Another commercial to reach into your heart. NFL player Josh Jacobs, driving his Kia, picks up his younger self and takes him on an autobiographical journey, along the way explaining to boy Josh that despite his difficult circumstances growing up, that he can and will persevere with hard work and focus. The ride ends with the adult Jacobs handing the boy a football helmet and sending him on his way. strong story and strong visuals. Not much to do with the vehicle other than to transport the two along their life journey, but still very effective.
Best of the rest:
Doritos Cool Ranch
Mountain Dew The Shining
Walmart Famous Visitors
New York Life Love Takes Action
Microsoft Be The One
WeatherTech Lucky Dog