Heart and Bowl: Best, Worst, and Strangest Commercials of Super Bowl LII

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I want you all to flashback to this last Sunday night, if you can recall such an evening that may have been derailed by party fouls, unbridled joy (if you’re from Philadelphia), or crushing sadness (if you’re from the New England area). But prior to the appearance of that joy or sadness, you were undoubtedly just living your run of the mill Super Bowl Sunday, watching what turned out to be a game for the ages (NICK FOLES?! WHAT?!) and partying with your family and friends (unless you were alone, in which case I’m … I’m sorry). A massive Clydesdale gallops onto the screen and you inwardly gasp at the impending glory that is about to be another awe-inspiring Budweiser Super Bowl commercial … until David Harbour of “Stranger Things” appears, dressed as a cowboy, and tells you you’re actually watching a Tide ad. But you’re not disappointed, you’re in awe. You just witnessed another factor that makes the Super Bowl such an event-- great commercials.

With the fervor that is Super Bowl Sunday comes the fervor for some of the best commercials you’ll see all year, along with some that are just … just awful, or just … just bizarre. Being in the advertising business ourselves, we wanted to take a moment to commend some commercials, attempt to explain others, and joyfully bash a few more, as Trove goes over the best, worst, and strangest ads of Super Bowl LII, starting with the worst and making our way up to the absolute best, this year’s (read this like the guy who announces the participants in a boxing match) Super Bowl Ad Champion!

WORST

Ram Trucks Martin Luther King Commercial

So this is a commercial that succeeds really well visually; it’s really well shot, and does a really good job at portraying visual diversity.

Having said that, any awareness of diversity it may seem Dodge had is quickly thrown out the window when they have Martin Luther King start to play as voiceover. They may have been going for emotionally powerful, but using a speech that was used in the civil rights movement by an assassinated icon of the era may not have been the most sensitive move.

Groupon, starring Tiffany Haddish

This had some pretty big hype going into it, as impending superstar Tiffany Haddish from last year’s hit “Girls Trip,” was fixing to be the next face of Groupon in this big platform ad to kick it off.

However, in this humble blogger’s eyes, and the eyes of some other critics, it sort of ended up being somewhat … not funny. It just doesn’t have that preposterous comedic pop some commercials that air for the Super Bowl ad, and with some real money commercials airing this year, it paled in comparison.

T-Mobile, "Little Ones"

I know, I may be deemed a monster for listing a commercial with a proverbial trove (hey that’s us!) or adorable babies as one of the worst commercials of the Super Bowl, but frankly, it’s kind of lazy advertising. Yes, everyone loves a cute baby, unless you’re a monster or the baby is kind of a jerk, but in this particular circumstance they don’t relate to T-Mobile at all. “Do you love babies? And equality? Then you’ll love T-Mobile!”

STRANGEST

M&M’s, starring Danny DeVito

Alright, I’m going to say it; is anyone more suited to play the human version of an M&M than Danny DeVito? The man is physically built for the role, I can’t think of another person who in the history of mankind who is shaped more like an M&M, besides William Howard Taft, but he was shaped more like a jumbo peanut butter M&M than a regular one.

Moving on though, while he fits the bill perfectly, the commercial is undoubtedly strange, as DeVito walks around asking strangers if they want to eat him, and is subsequently hit by a car. But to add to the strangeness of it all, he’s miraculously unharmed, bounces off the truck and into a fruit stand. Just bizarre, bizarre stuff.

Febreze, “Bleep Don’t Stink”

This is a totally simple commercial, just a series of interviews about a seemingly normal man named Dave, from his parents to his old wrestling coach to even the janitor from his high school. But what makes Dave different is that, as the commercial says early and often, his “bleep” don’t stink. It’s actually a pretty well executed commercial and ultimately some smart advertising by Febreze (Dave can’t be at everyone’s Super Bowl party, so get some Febreze is the gist of it), but a man whose feces don’t emit any odor is an undoubtedly odd concept for a Super Bowl commercial.

TOP 5 BEST

5. Toyota, “Good Odds”

This commercial could have finished higher, but sort of along the lines of the aforementioned T-Mobile spot, the brand sort of gets lost in the concept of the commercial, as the ad has literally no mention of Toyota until the end.

Having said that, unlike the T-Mobile commercial, the concept here works incredibly well and is legitimately very moving, as we follow the life of 8 time paralympic gold medal champion Lauren Woolstencroft and watch her odds of becoming a champion steadily increase. It’s inspiring stuff, and despite the random Toyota mention is still very memorable.

4. NFL, “Dirty Dancing/ To All the Touchdowns to Come”

Alright so, to be honest, this really wasn’t an advertisement for anything in particular, it was just good fun. But good god, what fun it was, as the Giants quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reinvent the “Time of My Life” sequence from “Dirty Dancing.” You can expect killer dance moves from Odell, but to see Eli do his best Patrick Swayze impression is a gift from above, especially when his equally agile (“agile” being loosely used here) offensive line shows up.

3. Amazon, “Alexa Loses Her Voice”

This is a pretty awesome yet simple concept; Alexa loses her voice, so Amazon (and the big man Bezos himself!) calls in a bunch of celebrities to replace her. It’s basically an excuse to have a celebrity cameo palooza, but it goes off extremely well, with some legitimate laugh out loud moments, such as Gordon Ramsay verbally destroying someone for not knowing how to make grilled cheese, or Anthony Hopkins channelling his sinister “Westworld” persona while feeding a peacock what appears to be a Cheeto. This and the spots in our top two … spots are Super Bowl commercials at their best.

2. Doritos and Mountain Dew, “Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice”

Another commercial that uses some celebrity cameos to get some serious laughs, but this one pulls it off with absolute perfection. In what universe could we have possibly imagined witnessing a rap battle between Tyrion Lannister and God himself? Peter Dinklage lip syncs Busta Rhymes (with surprising efficiency) and Morgan Freeman “works it” as he syncs to Missy Elliot, they’re both surrounded by some impressive elemental special effects, as Dinklage is surrounded by fire and Freeman ice (which makes no sense, because I never feel warmer than when I’m listening to Morgan Freeman’s voice.) This was a great ad, and Doritos is typically champ when it comes to cranking out top dog Super Bowl ads, but this year it was dethroned by …

This Year’s Super Bowl Ad Champion: Tide, “It’s A Tide Ad,” starring David Harbour.

I don’t think anyone would have guessed that Tide, of all companies, would win the year, even with Sheriff Hopper of “Stranger Things” as their star, but the consensus is pretty clear; this is our champion, as Tide arranged a full on meta assault on the Super Bowl.

In what would end up being the first in four Tide commercials we would see, David Harbour takes us through a few traditional Super Bowl commercial genres, that could be for a car or for beer or perfume, but assures us that it’s none of these. No, all of the ads within the ad are ads for Tide, as nobody has any stains on their clothes.

What follows is a series of micro ads where Harbour and Tide skewer commercial tropes, shooting down ads just as it seems they’re about to fit into one of the classic Super Bowl commercial genres and presenting them as Tide ads. To top it all off, they even surprised us with a few guerrilla style ads throughout the game, ripping on Old Spice, Mr. Clean, the aforementioned Clydesdales, and prescription drug commercials in ads that you legitimately think are going to be for one of these products before Hopper shows up. It helps that the visual satire of the commercials is as dead-on as the writing, as each spoof commercial is shot in the exact way that their particular genre typically is, from a sleek car commercial to a sensual jewelry ad to a brightly lit and energetic soda spot. The ads hijacked the big game to the point that some people legitimately were wondering if Harbour would show up on commercials that didn’t actually end up being ones for Tide. When you have people questioning the nature of their own commercial reality because your concept is so well-shot and well-executed, you’ve got yourself this year’s Super Bowl Ad Champion.

And a Tide ad.

Well that’s it for this week guys! Thank you kindly for reading once again, and if you enjoyed what you read hop on our website and check out the rest of our blogs, or like us on Facebook or Instragram to check out more of our genius content. See you guys next week!