Superlative Commercials from Super Bowl XLIX

The Super Bowl is the annual most-watched television event, and with eyeballs comes advertising money. As we all know, a good portion of the population watches the game not for the two teams playing in any given year, but for the commercials, which have become an event unto themselves.

This year’s match-up between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks resulted in one of the best played Super Bowls in recent history, with the Patriots claiming victory with an interception in the final seconds of the game.

Evaluating the quality of the commercials is a bit trickier, so I enlisted the unwitting help of the other guests at the Super Bowl party I attended. The following superlatives were awarded through the rigorous analytical process of watching and noting my mostly-sober friends’ reactions. (Please note: this particular selection committee definitely values the absurd over the sentimental.)

BEST IN SHOW (or, SO FUNNY WE WATCHED THEM TWICE): (tie) Skittles’ “Settle It” and Clash of Clan’s “Revenge” both made our crew giggle, but for very different reasons. Skittles gets our vote because the sight of a baby with bulked up arm-wrestling muscles (from settling debates “the usual way”) is never not funny. And Clash of Clan’s ad, featuring Liam Neeson as vengeful player AngryNeeson52, used the actors revenge-flick persona to absolute perfection.

BEST CASTING: Danny Trejo as Marcia Brady and Steve Buscemi as Jan Brady in Snickers’ “The Brady Bunch” are about as dead-on casting as you could get for the hangry versions of TV’s most famous sibling rivalry.

ODDEST BUT SOMEHOW COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE TREND: Screaming goats. Discover’s first Super Bowl commercial since 1986, titled “Surprise” and promoting the It card, featured one of the hollering quadrupeds, as did Sprint’s “Super Apologizing Ghoat” ad that emphasized the company’s program to cut your bill in half. Both were supremely silly, but stayed on the amusing side of ridiculous.

MOST CONVERSATION ABOUT THE “PLOT”: Nissan’s “With Dad” ad first inspired debate about whether it was a NASCAR commercial or not, then about the arrangement of “Cat’s Cradle” selected as the soundtrack, and finally, about the family itself: why wasn’t the family at a big race, after all? Important dialogue for our day and age, folks.

BEST PLACEMENT: Lexus’ ad for the RC 350, featuring a remote-controlled toy version of the car zooming through stunts and into tight spaces, aired shortly after the full trailer for Furious 7, a two-hour car chase for which I am excited beyond belief. (Lost that judge-y face: unless you watch exclusively French New Wave films, I bet you consume some pop-culture fluff too.) When the Lexus commercial aired, my pop-culture challenged roommate looked at me and said, “Hey, it’s just like those movies you like.” Mission accomplished, Lexus.

COMMERCIAL THAT SOLD US SOMETHING, BUT NOT WHAT IT MEANT TO SELL: Bud Light’s Super Bowl entry into it’s #UpForWhatever series, dubbed “Coin,” featured a LIFE SIZE PAC-MAN MAZE. I’m still not going to drink Bud Light except under duress, but I’m scheming how to build one of those IRL Pac-Man games in my backyard.

“WTF” IN THE BEST WAY: What on Earth does Jeff Bridges meditating over a sleeping couple have to do with SquareSpace? You had to visit dreamingwithjeff.com to find out, where you learn that by making a pay-what-you-like donation to No Kid Hungry, you can download Bridges’ Sleeping Tapes album – all through a website created by SquareSpace. The Dude abides (and chants, apparently).

And finally…

WORST IDEA FOR A COMMERCIAL, POSSIBLY OF ALL TIME: Nationwide, your first entry of the evening starring Mindy Kaling was cute and inspired chuckles. So what in the world inspired you to write “Make Safe Happen,” an ad featuring a dead kid admonishing his parents for letting him die? Scare tactics are a tried and true advertising tactic, sure, but general sentiment suggests airing an ad that starts off like a juvenile version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and ends with a dead child is the height of tone deaf.

If you want to watch the depressing thing again… well, that’s what Google is for.

That brings us to the end of our Super Bowl commercial superlatives, but like any awards, there’s so much more we missed. For a look at all the commercials, you can visit Hulu’s Ad Zone 2015.