Well, Super Bowl LI turned out to be a thriller and definitely didn’t disappoint any sports fan who loves an epic comeback. With the New England Patriots pulling out a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Tom Brady cemented his status as the best quarterback in NFL history, while Bill Belichick proved definitively that he is the greatest coach of all time. The half-time show was also really well executed by Lady Gaga. All in all, Super Bowl LI will be remembered as one of the very best Super Bowls ever. And of course, the Super Bowl is never complete without great commercials. This year was no exception, as there were numerous funny, inventive, and surprising commercials that popped up during the Super Bowl. Here is a list of what we consider to be the 10 best TV commercials from Super Bowl LI.
10. Kia: “A Hero’s Journey”
Kia used comedian Melissa McCarthy and slapstick humor to great effect in a commercial that promoted the car companies “Niro” hybrid vehicle. In the commercial, Melissa McCarthy plays an “eco warrior” who is out to save the planet. Set to the music of Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero,” the commercial shows Melissa McCarthy trying to do everything from save the whales and trees to stopping the polar ice caps from melting – each with disastrous results. In the end, Kia advises people that they needn’t go to such extremes to help the planet. It’s enough to simply drive Kia’s hybrid car, the Niro. This was one of the best uses of humor among the Super Bowl ads this year. McCarthy is reliably hilarious playing, what else, herself.
9. Live Snickers Commercial
It didn’t completely work, but the chocolate bar brand Snickers deserves full credit for originality with a live commercial they attempted right after half-time during the Super Bowl. The commercial featured Adam Driver on the set of a western movie who comes out and correctly states that the score of the game is 21-3, and that the Patriots are losing. The set of the western movie then collapses around everyone, sending them running for their lives. The commercial then cuts to the familiar tagline for the candy bar: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”
While not that funny, this commercial left some people scratching their heads – wondering how the actors knew the score, not realizing it was a live commercial. It also wasn’t clear until the end that the commercial was for Snickers. Still, for having the guts to attempt a live commercial during the world’s premier sporting event, Snickers makes the list.
8. Bai: Featuring Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake
Beverage company Bai scored with their Super Bowl ad that featured a hilarious Christopher Walken reciting, in spoken word, the lyrics to N*Sync’s pop song “Bye, Bye, Bye,” as Justin Timberlake himself looked on in amusement. This short 30-second spot was hilarious and instantly got the hit song from 2000 stuck in people’s heads. It is a great example of how to get people talking a brand, in this case exotic antioxidant infusion drink Bai. Throwing up the hashtag #BaiBaiBai was the icing on the cake for this commercial. Walken and Timberlake clad in matching formal attire, complete with ascots, is also pretty memorable.
7. Stranger Things — Season Two Preview
One of the more unexpected but appreciated commercials to air during Super Bowl Sunday was a preview ad for the second season of Netflix’s hit original TV series Stranger Things. The spot was a welcome bone thrown to fans of the breakout 2016 hit, and it seemed to indicate that the program’s 1980s nostalgia will continue to be in full swing during Season Two. Images in the commercial showed the kids dressed up as the Ghostbusters and playing what looked like an Atari 2600 game console. The ad also seemed to forecast that Season Two of the critically acclaimed series will continue to be as dark and scary as the first season. And who didn’t love hearing the show’s already iconic theme song accompanied with the first word on when the show will actually be back — fittingly, the commercial revealed Season Two will arrive on Halloween.
6. T-Mobile: “Punish Me”
T-Mobile created an innovative and hilarious series of commercials for the Super Bowl that poked fun at the pain people experience whenever they get their mobile phone bills – what with the overage charges, taxes, and hidden fees. In the commercials, actress Kristen Schaal (The Last Man on Earth) plays a sadomasochist who wants her mobile phone provider to “punish her” for going over on her minutes, only to be told by a T-Mobile rep that his company is different and that T-Mobile does not punish its customers with overages, taxes and hidden fees. With a pseudosexual tone that pokes fun at the 50 Shades of Grey craze, this T-Mobile commercial uses humor to maximum effect to illustrate a real problem that people can relate to – exorbitant and unwarranted mobile phone charges. Definitely one of the funnier TV ads from this year. T-Mobile also earns props for its “Unlimited Moves” Super Bowl commercial, that featured Justin Bieber and a dancing caveman Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski.
5. Busch Beer
Busch Beer made a comeback of sorts at this year’s Super Bowl. The company that made a reputation for itself as “Buschhhhhh Beer,” referring to the sound the beverage makes when opened, used its Super Bowl commercial to introduce a new spokesman and a new beer can. In the ad, the Busch Beer spokesman is out in the wilderness, where he announces that Busch Beer is cold, crisp, and refreshing, before cracking open the new can and unleashing the “Buschhhhhhhhhhhhh” sound that lingers so long every woodland animal in the forest hears it. This commercial has a retro, fun vibe that harkens back to the Busch Beer ads of the late 1980s and early 1990s. And it reminds people of the fun to be had in drinking a Busch(hhhhhhhhhhhh) beer.
4. Budweiser Immigration Ad
The folks behind popular beer brand Budweiser never intentionally try to be political with their advertisements. They certainly wouldn’t want to turn off beer drinkers who support a certain new U.S. President. However, after the recent decisions by the current administration, including a controversial travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations, this year’s Budweiser commercial accidently took on a decidedly political tone.
Beverage giant Anheuser-Busch, which holds the exclusive rights for alcohol advertising in the Super Bowl, dedicated 60 seconds to spin an epic commercial about Budweiser beer, its origins, and the company’s founder Adolphus Busch. The commercial is all about the American Dream and shows the perilous journey that Busch made to New Orleans as an immigrant from Germany. Specifically, the ad highlights how Busch overcame discrimination and achieved success when he emigrated from Hamburg, Germany in the mid- 19th Century. Budweiser said the ad was created to send a message about “not backing down from beliefs and dreams.” But given the recent events in Washington, D.C., the ad cannot help but be seen as a political statement – intentional or not.
3. Super Bowl Babies
The NFL again used babies to promote itself, its slogan (“Football Is Family”), and its merchandise for toddlers in its advertisement in this year’s Super Bowl. The Super Bowl Babies did not disappoint, especially a mini Mike Ditka, a baby Marshawn Lynch, and a pintsized Broadway Joe Namath, complete with a full length mink coat. This ad is, without a doubt, the cutest one from Super Bowl LI, and also one of the most memorable thanks to those adorable babies dressed up like legendary football coaches and players. Add in the Peter Cetera song, “You’re The Inspiration” and you’ve naturally got a home run of a commercial on your hands. If this ad doesn’t make you want to run out and dress your baby up like Rob Gronkowski, then we don’t know what to say to you.
2. Squarespace: John Malkovich’s Domain Name Fight
The best Super Bowl commercials often feature celebrities making fun of themselves and their image (see the aforementioned ad featuring Christopher Walken). Website builder and domain name registrar Squarespace used this format to perfection in their Super Bowl commercial featuring actor John Malkovich. In the ad, Malkovich plays himself arguing on the telephone with a person who has already registered the domain “johnmalkovich.com.” The famous actor gets increasingly angry, arguing why he should be able to register the domain until the person on the other end of the phone hangs up on him, leading John Malkovich to say “John Malkovich seems to have a temper.” This is pretty funny and it plays off the image people have of Malkovich as a weird, angry, quirky guy – best exhibited in the classic film Being John Malkovich.
1. Shields MRI: Brady Burns Goodell
Of course, the commercial that had everyone talking was one that aired right after Super Bowl LI ended and Tom Brady had captured his record fifth title. In an ad for Shields MRI, Brady is seen going in for a medical MRI. When he is asked to remove any jewelry he has on, Brady has to remove his four previous Super Bowl rings. When the assistant at the clinic asks Brady “Is that all?” the star quarterback then shows a fifth ring and says “I forgot this one. It’s kinda new.” Impressed, the assistant says “We’ll have to get you a bigger locker,” to which Tom Brady then responds “Roger that,” in an obvious burn to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2016 season for his alleged involvement in Deflategate. This commercial, which was filmed well in advance of this year’s Super Bowl, is the perfect revenge for Tom Brady and, in a not so subtle way, allows the future Hall of Fame quarterback to have the last word on the Deflategate controversy, while pointing out that the scandal and suspension did not prevent Brady and the Patriots from winning their fifth Lombardi Trophy.