My job during the Super Bowl was to watch commercials and pretend I had opinions on them. Sometimes it was easy, like when I got to rant about Amazon’s creepy ubiquitousness. Other times, it was hard, like when I watched Keanu Reeves stand on top of a motorcycle and decided I had absolutely nothing to say.
These were the five best commercials of the 2018 Super Bowl.
I mean, I don’t know. I just wrote that sentence for my master, the search engines. Leave your firstborn baby at the mouth of the search engine and hope that the gods are merciful. I probably missed a bunch. Had to pee. The beers were in the fridge, which wasn’t in the living room. I’m not perfect.
But I sure watched a lot of ads on purpose, and that makes me qualified to judge the best ads.
5. This Duracell ad, which was just a tweet
Batteries hold a sacred place in the history of Philly fans. Congratulations, Philadelphia, and Fly, Duracell, Fly. pic.twitter.com/qkEcPbFj4N— Duracell (@Duracell) February 5, 2018
Does this count? I’m saying yes.
4. Amazon owns our souls, but this was pretty good
Amazon scares me. I tithe to Amazon. Both things can be true. And, fine, this was a good ad.
It’s the little things that make it. It’s the resigned nod of failure that the first lackey gives the rich egg man.
It’s the ridiculousness of the incredulousness that Cardi B offers, which is thick enough to make you think she’s an SNL actress playing Cardi B.
It’s the way Rebel Wilson says, “And you’re just so duhhteee,” which is followed by Stammering Man holding a wine bottle with a corkscrew jutting out of it, who is perfect as well.
It makes use of the double-agent word “bush,” which is something that you can put in the title of a children’s book, until it’s unspeakably dirty.
It’s the super surly look from the guy in khakis just looking to relax with some country in his expensive home, and it’s the silence that follows, which really is notable in a room that’s blaring the broadcast on TV.
It’s Anthony Hopkins leaning into his typecasting, even though he’s played Nixon, dammit.
Nixon would totally feed peacocks by hand and intimate that your boyfriend was kidnapped, though. Maybe this has layers.
I could see a lot of other agencies running with the idea, “What if Alexa had a celebrity voice?” and doing dumb, safe things. This wasn’t that.
Now buy some batteries and have a truck take them to a plane that takes them to a truck that takes them to another truck that takes them to your house that lets you power up a flashlight until you let another truck take them away and bring them to a landfill, where they will sit forever.
3. Toyota’s celebration of the odds
I don’t know what it had to do with cars and trucks, but I enjoyed this ad an awful lot.
I think it had me hooked at the look of absolute damned determination that the ballerina showed off as she sashayed down the corridor, like she was ready to bite someone’s nose clean off. There were little moments like that mixed in throughout, but it never lost focus of the point, which is that these athletes are indescribably special in a variety of ways. Never tell me the odds.
Usually, Super Bowl commercials are graded by how funny or memorable they are. This one was a success because of how well executed it was from start to finish.
Now buy a car?
Still working that connection out; gimme a minute.
2. Visit Australia
First off, I don’t need a commercial. It’s right there in the description. “Visit Australia.” OK. Sure. But is there a contest I can enter or something, because that sounds expensive.
If my Visit Australia buttons were pressed before the Super Bowl, though, they were tickled during it:
Like most of you, I was very, VERY interested in Thor and Rod Beck starring in a movie together, even if the setup was as dumb as “What if Crocodile Dundee’s son returns to Australia?”
But it turns out that it wasn’t a movie. It was an ad. For a brand. And that brand was an entire continent. Would you like to visit this remarkable island?
YES. And drink wine with Doctor Strange?
YES. And tickle all different varieties of Australian spider?
GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE, AUSTRALIA, YOU ALMOST HAD ME.
1. Tide ad
They kept running with it, and it was funny every time. When the rubble was picked through, it turned out Tide was the brand that became a meme.
They’re all well done, and they served the purpose of making you think about detergent the entire time.
The first ad was a delightful piece of satire. It demanded that you pick one detergent over another, even though your cells are dying and you will eventually join the limitless void, and, ha ha, good commercial, maybe I will pick that detergent. Then they goofed on another brand (Old Spice) that didn’t have the foresight to lock its star up with contractual webbing.
UNLESS OLD SPICE WAS IN ON IT TO GET FREE ADVERTISING DURING THE SUPER BOWL. Don’t think that’s possible? Consider that Mr. Clean made a cameo as a lust object in another commercial, and there’s no way Tide was just going to swipe his likeness first and let the lawyers sort it out second. That was absolutely coordinated.
My god, the brands. They’re all related. This is like The Simpsons and The Critic crossover.
Apparently, we’ve come full circle.
Not only did Tide manage to get free commercials for Old Spice and Mr. Clean based on brand recognition alone, but it also planted the seed in your head that every ad could and should be an ad for Tide, just because everyone’s clothes are always clean in these commercials.
It might be the best ad campaign I’ve ever seen, just based on how much work it’s doing when it’s not airing.
And now back to our eventual and assured demise, one second at a time, regardless of what detergents we use.
Good commercials, though.