Sadly, like last year, this year's batch of Super Bowl commercials did not seem particularly remarkable. Many of them seemed like any commercials that debut at any other time of year. They could easily have premiered during a rerun of Madam Secretary in the middle of July. This year's batch of commercials also differed from last year's another respect. There were no overly controversial commercials. There was nothing like the extremely tasteless Nationwide spot "Make Safe Happen" from last year.
Of course, there it must be pointed out that the trend towards serious, inspirational commercials of the past few years appears to be over. Among the most serious commercials to air during the Super Bowl was one that aired only in the St. Louis market. In a simple commercial with the hashtag #SlamStan, well-known St. Louis lawyer Terry Crouppen summed up the feelings of St. Louis fans towards Rams owner Stan Kroenke for moving the team to Los Angeles. As someone who rooted for the Rams when they were in St. Louis, I must say I agree with Mr Crouppen entirely. There were only a very few commercials that aired nationally that could be considered serious or inspirational. There was the very well done Jeep commercial "Portraits", celebrating Jeep's 75th anniversary, and an Audi commercial with a retired astronaut and David Bowie's song "Starman", but that was about it. For the most part this year's commercials aimed more for humour. That many of the commercials simply weren't very funny is perhaps beside the point.
Not only were some of the commercials not that funny, some of the commercials were of the sort that should never air during an event in which food is often served. Quite simply, the past few years have seen pharmaceutical companies buying time during the Super Bowl for medications for conditions that turn most people's stomachs. There was a commercial for the toe nail fungus medication Jublia (who also aired a spot during last year's Super Bowl as well). There was a commercial for the Irritable Bowl Syndrome with Diarrhoea medication Xifaxan. There was a spot for AstraZeneca, a medication for Opioid Induced Constipation. While I suppose there is no truly good time for commercials dealing with such conditions, I would think the Super Bowl, given people often eat and drink during it, would be among the absolute worst times to air them.
Beyond the pharmaceutical commercials, the worst commercials were attempts at humour gone horribly awry. NFL's "Super Bowl Babies" spot, which puts forth the theory that an inordinate number of babies are born after a Super Bowl victory, just seemed stupid and unamusing to me. Doritos's "Ultrasound" was not simply unfunny, but a bit frightening too. Quite simply, the commercial centres on a pregnant woman getting an ultrasound whose unborn foetus wants the Doritios her husband is eating. While the ad shows nothing (fortunately there is nothing like the Alien chest bursting scene), it is a bit disturbing when one starts to think about it.... As to the worst commercial aired during Super Bowl 2016, it could well be the absolute worst Super Bowl Commercial of all time were it not for Nationwide's distasteful "Make Safe Happen" ad from last year. The Mountain Dew commercial "Puppymonkeybaby" featured a creature with the head of a pug, the torso of a monkey, and the bottom of a baby. It is truly disturbing to see and difficult to dismiss from one's mind once one has seen it. I suspect many who saw the ad yesterday may well have had nightmares last night...
As to what I consider the very best commercials from this year's Super Bowl, here they are:
Terry Crouppen "Slam Stan"
I think it can be said that Terry Croupen speaks for all former St. Louis Rams fans in this commercial that aired only in the St. Louis market. I know he summed up my feelings perfectly. As Mr. Crouppen says, "Just because it's legal and you're rich enough to do it – that doesn't make it right."
TurboTax "Never a Sellout"
It is hard to go wrong with a respected British actor like Sir Anthony Hopkins, especially when one is parodying the idea of respected, big name actors doing commercials. This is easily one of the funniest commercials to air in years.
Budweiser "Simply Put"
As I said, it is hard to go wrong with a respected British actor. And while this commercial is funny, it deals with a very serious subject. Quite simply, Dame Helen Mirren does her part to discourage individuals from drunk driving (or as they call it in the UK, "drink driving").
Heinz "Weiner Stampede"
The two best commercials of this Super Bowl involved dogs. Okay, Heinz's "Weiner Stampede" is a bit of a one joke idea, but it is terribly cute as well as funny. I mean, what is cuter than a bunch of dachshunds dressed as hot dogs?
Dorito's may have had a total misfire with their other commercial, but this was easily the best commercial of this year's Super Bowl. Quite simply, a group of adorable dogs plot to get their paws on some delicious Doritos.