I can think of three reasons why people not from America might want to watch the Super Bowl. First is an actual like for American football and a desire to watch the game. In my humble opinion, that’s the least compelling reason to watch, but what do I know?
Second is because of the Halftime Show. Third is for a sliver of insight into American culture and for the atmosphere and the experience of watching something so important to many Americans.
Oh and of course for Americans, there’s a fourth reason: the commercials.
To me, the idea that this legitimately counts as a reason why people enjoy watching a sporting event is unfathomable. It is something that, even now having watched it, I still don’t really understand and probably never will. The idea that NBC charged just over $5 million for every 30 seconds (30 seconds!) of advertising time is absolutely insane. All that being said, I had high expectations for these commercials. While some definitely lived up to the hype, most of them just confused me more than anything else — even with the help and explanations of some of my friends (special shoutout to room 605A for putting up with my many, many questions).
So in an effort to somehow discuss what seemed like a lot of commercials to me, I am going to just briefly discuss the winners of weirdly specific categories that I have made up.
Starting with the losers:
Most bizarre use of political activism: Ram’s “Built to Serve”
Just... why? Who thought that this advert was a good idea? Regardless of all the issues with the fact that they are advertising trucks with a political protest, why did they use a speech which later went on to warn about deceptive tactics used by advertisers to get people to think a certain way? Both things happening on the same date is not enough of a connection to warrant the use of that voiceover.
Most uncomfortable: Hyundai - “Hope Detector”
As an international student, I’m not a massive fan of American security (even though it was for the Super Bowl, it looked exactly like airport security), and it just generally makes me nervous and uncomfortable. While I think what Hyundai is doing to fund research for is great, it seems to also be shaming everyone who doesn’t drive a Hyundai for not helping children with cancer. In short, this advert made me feel uncomfortable and guilty — and I can’t even drive.
Now onto my winners:
The most meta representation of Super Bowl ads: “It’s a Tide Ad.”
The advert mimicked the stereotypical ad of almost every genre (from diamonds to beer to cars) and pretty much showed a summary of every ad that I expected to see in a 60 second advert. The advert very cleverly did kind of turn every advert into a Tide advert because every time another advert came up with someone in clean clothes, I was just waiting to see if it would turn out to be another Tide ad. And as an added bonus, no tide pods were eaten or shown in the advert, so that’s a win in my book.
Best use of celebrity cameos: Amazon’s “Did Alexa Lose Her Voice?”
After Alexa lost her voice (freshman plague?), a handful of celebrities took her place. Of course, I couldn’t mention this advert without discussing British icon (!!) Gordon Ramsay berating a man for asking how to make a grilled cheese because I mean, come on, “Its name is the recipe!”
However, Cardi B definitely takes first place in the advert because of her dedication to the role. “How far is Mars? How am I supposed to know? I’ve never been there,” she says. When another man asks to play country music, she plays “Bodak Yellow.” It’s perfect, and if I ever get a device with Alexa, I expect these to all be voice setting options.
Honorable “Don’t put Baby in the corner” mention: The NFL commercial
Football players performing the iconic Dirty Dancing dance sequence — amazing.
And last but certainly not least: My favorite commercial of the night goes to... drumroll please... PepsiCo’s “Doritos Blaze vs Moutain Dew Ice: Battle”
A lip-sync rap battle between Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage and the one and only voice of God, Morgan Freeman, with a cameo from Missy Elliot herself: This is what I expected from the Super Bowl, and I was not disappointed.