Super Bowl commercials can save even the dullest football game. From Doritos to Budweiser, zany, comedic, and original showcases of advertising ingenuity have people talking for weeks following the game, long after the actual score of the game is forgotten, after the songs that were sung during the Halftime Show become a thing of the past (except maybe ‘Formation’).
The commercials of 2016 unfortunately let the creativity disappear like the Panthers’s championship dreams. Over a dozen were entirely focused around celebrities, most lacking much story and instead hoping the A-listers would carry their product along. The list includes–but is certainly not limited to–T-Mobile, Budweiser/Bud Light, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Hyundai, Skittles, LG, and on. These are gargantuans in the marketplace, and some are usually home-run-hitters under the Super Bowl spotlight.
Like Donald Draper of the gone but never forgotten Mad Men once said, “Celebrity endorsements are lazy.” Thankfully the Joe Namath and Samsonite luggage commercial never made prime-time in the AMC world, but unfortunately for reality, too many of these celebrity dumps did.
Not all of the advertisements were received poorly, however. T-Mobile’s feature, Drake, was at least still relevant to everyone watching last night; at the very least, ‘Hotline Bling’ is still playing around in millions of Americans’ heads. And after the commercial in which a trio of T-Mobile representatives proposed various changes to the popular single in which little bits of information about the cellular company’s amenities would be tagged to the lyrics. Drake, more amicable like back in his Degrassi days than sensual (or even a little bitter, see most of ‘Hotline Bling’), accepts these changes without question and allows the representatives to have their moment of fame in the music video’s technicolor square.
The commercial, though an exhibit of SB 50’s toxic laziness, was revered on Twitter.
— Angela Cooper (@AngelaC_3) February 2, 2016
Some of the others captured some laughs and some smiles as well, one of which being a Budweiser commercial where Helen Mirren rolls through a query of insults against the world. Regardless of the talent, the celebrity spotlight in the Budweiser commercial paired with a brief fast-paced, image-based ad in which the annual Clydesdales make an appearance for half a second demonstrated that the first-place beer company might be ending tradition and focusing more on what looks good on TV.
Even Coca-Cola, whose reign has brought forth the Polar Bears and even colored Santa’s coat red, decided to fall back on the Hulk and Ant-Man to do the dirty work, characters Coke neither created or owns. Pepsi, though well-recognized for using celebrity endorsements like Beyoncé, decided again to bring nothing new to the table and rely instead on singer Janelle Monae against a colorful backdrop.
According to NESN, this Super Bowl was the third-most watched television program of all time, following Super Bowl 48 and then 49. The least some of these capitalist icons could have done was introduce some kind of new character to sell their beverages and technology.
Then again, after witnessing Mountain Dew’s #puppymonkeybaby, maybe trotting out celebrities is the way to go after all.