After dozens of ads during a Super Bowl game that went into overtime, the consensus is in — this year’s most talked-about commercials made strong political statements, while some viewers complained that this year’s ads were boring and overly politicized.
Anheuser-Busch, Audi and construction materials company 84 Lumber made political statements in their commercials, while Tide, Skittles and Sprint went humorous.
While it didn’t make any sweeping political commentary, Bud Light’s nostalgic commercial bringing back Spuds MacKenzie could be considered one of the best commercials of the night because of its classic comical tone — an element some viewers said was missing from this year’s ads.
But strong political statements might have generated the most conversation. The lumber company’s site crashed after the commercial depicting a mother and daughter’s journey to American border aired. The original commercial pictured the mother-daughter duo approaching a border wall, but Fox officials said the company had to revise the ad to remove the depiction of the wall. “The Journey Begins” commercial ultimately settled on a barbed wire fence in place of a wall in what became one of the most highly politicized commercials of the night.
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The Budweiser commercial generated buzz in the St. Louis region, while some boycotted the brand because of its apparent pro-immigrant stance. It depicts the journey founder Adolphus Busch made to get to America in 1857. But AdWeek reports the commercial was not meant to be political, rather, it tries to tell an American story of overcoming hardship.
Sprint also had a solid comedic hit in its dark-humor commercial about a dad who fakes his own death to get out of his Verizon contract.
When he discovers he didn’t need to go to such extremes, he says rather comically, “Shoot.”
Read about other notable Super Bowl commercials below.
9:03 p.m.: Tide brought it full-circle with its two-part Super Bowl commercial with former quarterback Terry Bradshaw and actor Jeffrey Tambor.
Bradshaw appeared early in the second quarter of the game with host Curt Menefee to promote Lady Gaga’s halftime show — but Bradshaw had a glaring red stain on his shirt.
The stain was actually a set-up for the Tide commercial. Bradshaw hijacks a golf cart and drives to Tambor’s house, where he successfully cleans his shirt.
A second Tide commercial played in the fourth quarter, again with Bradshaw and a stained shirt. This time, Tambor told him he needed to get his own Tide.
8:35 p.m.: The Spuds MacKenzie ghost dog commercial may have stolen the show for those who remember him from the 1980s commercials for Bud Light.
The Bull Terrier reminds a man that his friends need him.
“Yeah, to be honest I don’t even have an excuse man. I’m just gonna stay in.”
Spuds MacKenzie, returned as a ghost, reminds the man, “They needed you and you weren’t there.”
But the guy eventually saves the party by showing up with a case of Bud Light.
8:30 p.m.: Amazon punched back at Google Home with a handful of advertisements for their voice-activated smart speaker, Echo.
The Echo has been known to make mistakes, including ordering dollhouses after hearing its name, “Alexa,” on TV.
7:55 p.m.: Independent hair-care line It’s A 10! seemingly took a jab at President Donald Trump’s signature hairdo in their commercial, saying, “America, we’re in for four years of bad hair. So it’s up to you to do your part by making up for it with great hair.”
7:48 p.m.: An Anheuser-Busch InBev ad for Budweiser airs. The commercial already drew plenty of attention in the week before the game, when the company released the commercial online. It depicts the journey founder Adolphus Busch made to get to America in 1857.
The commercial is reminiscent of what might be one of the most politicized Super Bowl commercial seasons in recent memory. With the country divided after the election of President Donald Trump, followed by worldwide protests and a controversial immigration ban, people are looking for red and blue everywhere — including Super Bowl commercials.
Fortune magazine reports that some anti-immigration groups called for boycotting Budweiser because of what they saw as a pro-immigrant agenda in the commercial. But AdWeek reports the commercial was not meant to be political, rather, it tries to tell an American story of overcoming hardship.
7:40 p.m. Mr. Clean’s commercial showing the famous bald-headed cleaning man dancing evocatively probably hit home with clean freaks that like to keep the house tidy.
“You gotta love a man who cleans,” the commercial touted.
7:38 p.m.: Luxury car-maker Audi expressed its support of pay equality in its Super Bowl commercial, marking yet another advertisement aimed at making a political statement.
“We are committed to equal pay for equal work. Because progress doesn’t belong to any one group. Progress is for everyone.”
Loren Angelo, vice-president of marketing for Audi of America, told Forbes, “You can either introduce humor, with charmingly provocative wit, or you can speak to America emotionally. This is a culturally engaging topic that we as a company are very focused on, and we think that to have a profound presence in the Super Bowl.”
7:29 p.m.: Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety had a poignant commercial about impaired driving.
“This is not a commercial,” said a father who lost his baby son to a drunk driving crash.
On September 3, 15-month-old Liam Mikael Kowal was hit by a drunk driver while on a walk with his aunt, according to SaveMoLives.com. You can learn more about Liam’s life, his family and their foundation at Liamslife.org.
7:19 p.m.: Lady Gaga’s halftime performance had crowds rocking out to a mash-up of her well-known hits. And yep, she jumped from the roof.
7:10 p.m.: A commercial from 84 Lumber, a construction materials company, depicts a Mexican mother and daughter ready to undertake a voyage to the American border.
The original commercial pictured the mother-daughter duo approaching a border wall, but Fox officials said the company had to revise the ad to remove the depiction of the wall. President Donald Trump has said such a wall will eventually be built between the two countries.
“The Journey Begins” commercial ultimately settled on a barbed wire fence in place of a wall in what became one of the most highly politicized commercials of the night.
The full commercial, including the wall, can be viewed at the company’s website.
7:05 p.m.: The NCADA’s disturbing commercial issued a warning against prescription drug overdose.
“Bang, dead, just like that,” a fictional father said about his daughter, locked in a bathroom, dead not from a gunshot wound, but an overdose.
The fictional daughter had died of a drug overdose, not a gunshot. Teens are more likely to die by drug overdose than from gunfire, according to the organization.
6:52 p.m.: Super Bowl commercial watchers took to Twitter to express their disappointment with this year’s advertisements.
Forbes predicted earlier this week that the costs for Super Bowl advertising may be slowing down.
6:24 p.m.: Sprint took on Verizon in their Super Bowl commercial, one of the first to make a few dark jokes.
“No need for extreme measures” depicts a father who tries to fake his own death in order to get out of his Verizon contract.
When he discovers he didn’t need to go to such extremes, he says rather comically, “Shoot.”
6:06 p.m.: Short-term lodging website showed what might have been the first political commercial of the night. Coca-Cola also featured an ad about diversity with the hash-tag “America is beautiful.”
“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong,” text in the commercial said.
The commercial is part of the company’s “We Accept” campaign, which aims to provide short-term housing to 100,000 displaced people over the next five years.
“People who've been displaced, whether because of war or conflict or other factors, are acutely vulnerable to not being accepted. They are, quite literally, in need of a place to belong, which is why we've been inspired to take action,” the website says.
The commercial could be considered a jab at recent moves by President Donald Trump’s administration to limit immigration and acceptance of refugees.
6 p.m.: Products like Busch beer and Skittles lightened the mood amidst serious, high-tech commercials.
Busch seems to be making a move for a new motto, “Buschhhhh.”
Skittles, meanwhile, went for the laughs with a signature odd-ball commercial.
5:55 p.m.: A commercial for tax service provided H&R Block might have caused a few folks to say, “What now?” Well, the company has paired up with IBM Watson, a cognitive technology that can apparently “think like a human,” according to their website. The technology can supposedly be used to analyze and interpret data to, say, make doing your taxes easier.
5:45 p.m.: Google follows in the high-tech vein with a commercial for its “Google Home,” a voice-activated smart speaker.
Smart speakers like Amazon Echo made their way into homes last year, and Amazon’s and Google’s products are expected to face off in 2017.
5:35 p.m.: Ford starts off the pack with the first commercial depicting stuck travelers — from a kid stuck under his bike to a guy stuck on a ski lift.
“We’re going further, so you can,” the commercial says, showing a high-tech self-driving vehicle. One viewer said he thinks the commercial was a sign of hope in the automobile industry with its sights set on ride sharing and self-driving cars.
4 p.m.: While fans nationwide began settling down in front of the TV Sunday afternoon in anticipation of Super Bowl LI, others were in it for some of the most entertaining commercials to be seen year-round.
A coveted Super Bowl advertisement slot during the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots go for an average of $5 million for 30 seconds, according to the New York Times. This year, advertisers are making sure they get the most bang for their buck by marketing those advertisements well before game day.