Monday, February 6, 2017

Super Bowl Commercials 2017

For many Americans the Super Bowl is not about the game itself, but instead about the commercials that air during the game. Indeed, I sometimes think that the commercials that air during the Super Bowl get more attention than the game itself. Many of the commercials are previewed, publicised, and discussed well before the game even airs. It would not surprise me if many Americans don't discuss the game itself the Monday following the Super Bowl, but instead the commercials that they saw during the game.

Over all I do think this year's commercials were better than last year's crop. While there were the usual, generic car ads, the ads that tried too hard to be funny (but weren't), and ads that just plain didn't seem worthy of a spot during the Super Bowl, it seemed to me there were more remarkable adverts than had aired in the past few years. At the very least there were no ads that were truly bad (nothing like Nationwide's 2015 "Make Safe Happen", AKA "the Dead Kid Commercial", or Mountain Dew's truly frightening ""Puppymonkeybaby" from last year).

There were a few commercials that courted controversy, although in two cases the adverts seemed to me to be wholly innocuous. Among these was Budweiser's "Born the Hard Way". The spot portrayed Adolphus Busch's immigration to the United States and the struggles he faced doing so. I was shocked that this commercial provoked any controversy at all. First, it is based on historical fact: Adolphus Busch immigrated to the U.S. at a time when Germans were not particularly welcome. Second, the commercial was conceived in October, a time well before the current controversy over immigration erupted. Indeed, rather than any political motives, I suspect Anheuser-Busch's motivation for the commercial is the fact that 2017 marks the 170th anniversary of Adolphus Busch's immigration to the United States. At any rate, the commercial seems to me to be wholly apolitical and also very well done as well.

Another ad that courted controversy was Airbnb's "We Accept". The commercial went through shots of people of various ethnicities and ended with the hashtag #weaccept. Again, I don't see why this should be controversial. It is simply celebrating people of all ethnicities, which is ultimately what this country is supposed to be all about. A third ad I can understand that caused controversy was 84 Lumber's commercial in which a mother and daughter travel across Mexico on foot. In the original version (available online) the mother and daughter reach the Mexican border to find a wall. Fox made 84 Lumber cut the part about the wall for broadcast. Given current events I can understand why the ad would be controversial.

I was somewhat disappointed in the movie trailers that aired this year. Out of the many trailers to air, there  were only two for movies I would want to see: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Do we really need another Transformers movie? There were ads for two TV shows I am interested. The first is for the 2nd season of Stranger Things, which I dearly love. The second is for an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. Given I found the movie based on the book disappointing, I am hoping the TV show will do the book justice.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite commercials from the 2017 Super Bowl:

Wix.Com "Big Game Spot"

This is not only my favourite commercial that aired during this Super Bowl, but one of my favourite Super Bowl commercials of all time. I mean, what can be better than Gal Gadot and Jason Stratham destroying a restaurant? This commercial has a little bit of everything: action, humour, and even a bit of romance. By the way, this is not the version that aired during the Super Bowl, but the extended director's cut (which is even funnier).

Mercedes-Benz, "Easy Driver"

Not only did this commercial feature Hollywood royalty in the form of Peter Fonda, it was directed by Hollywood royalty (The Coen Brothers). It would then be surprising if it was not a truly great commercial. "Easy Driver" is a loving and funny salute to both Mr. Fonda and the classic Easy Rider (1969).

Kia Motors "Hero's Journey"

I thought this commercial was just plain funny in the way that old Warner Brothers cartoons are. Melissa McCarthy goes from helping cause to cause, always with disastrous results for herself. I thought it was hilarious, and Miss McCarthy's gift for physical comedy is put to good use.

It's a 10 Haircare "Super Bowl Commercial"

Another commercial that is just plain funny. It is also very artfully done, with beautiful black and white shots of a diverse group of individuals.

T-Mobile "Punished"

Kristen Schaal stars in this parody of Fifty Shades of Grey where a certain mobile provider's plans are considered painful. A very well done spot and very funny.

Snickers "Live Super Bowl Commercial"

Snickers aired this year's Super Bowl Commercial live, and I thought the results were very good. What can be funnier than a Western set destroyed by a simple accident?

Avocados From Mexico "Secret Society"

What happens when a secret society isn't so secret? This commercial from Avocados From Mexico answers that commercial with this very funny spot.

Budweiser "Born the Hard Way"

I thought "Born the Hard Way" was very well done. It almost looks as if it could have been a movie. I also thought it was very touching. And, again, I don't see how anyone could possibly be offended by it.

Audi "Daughter"

Another touching ad. Quite simply, as his daughter competes in a go-cart race, a father questions what he should tell his daughter. It ends with a message of support for equal pay for women.

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