This is posted on Sunday, February 5, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
The Super Bowl ads for 2017 included Justin Bieber, Morgan Freeman, Melissa McCarthy, a burger-flipping kangaroo, a “Fifty Shades of Grey” spoof, Humpty Dumpty and a joke about Donald Trump’s hair.
Plus, there was a strange 84 Lumber ad about a mom and her daughter trying to leave Mexico, presumably for the United States. But to see the end, you had to go online because the original ad was rejected. Or something like that.
My favorite commercials of the night included those by Skittles, Bai, Kia, Tide, Budweiser, Honda CR-V and T-Mobile (Kristen Schaal version). Duds? Febreze, Wendy’s, T-Mobile (Justin Bieber version) and Intel.
According to USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad poll of 15,000 viewers, the top 5 were Kia (Melissa McCarty), Honda (yearbooks), Audi (the girl in a cart race), Budweiser (immigrant) and Tide (Terry Bradshaw).
As an 80s child, enjoyed hearing Bonnie Tyler (“Holding Out for a Hero”), Rick Astley (“Never Gonna Give You Up”) and Chicago (“You’re the Inspiration”).
Google Home: To the tune of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” various folks use Google Home (kind of like Amazon Echo) to turn lights off and check the weather and provide recipes. Straightforward, innocuous, always like that song. Grade: B-minus
Michelin: Another utility-based ad that works the heartstrings. Michelin helps save lives – and keeps families together. Grade: C-plus
Avocados: A so-called “secret” society has a terrible time keeping secrets. One guy is even “streaming” their meeting. “At least they don’t know about subliminal advertising,” one guy says before Jon Lovitz pops up. (Shouldn’t they have Kevin Nealon?) Mildly amusing: B
Mobile Strike video game: Arnold Schwarzenegger throws off a few of his greatest movie lines (or variations thereof) such as “I’m back” and “Hasta la vista, baby!” Works for the audience that plays that stuff, I fathom: B-minus
H&R Block: Jon Hamm narrates (and briefly appears) to tell us about using IBM’s Watson to make its ability to find deductions much better with lots of fancy visual aids. Shrug. C (My college friend Peter on Facebook did note this: Regarding the H&R Block Super Bowl commercial: if they need IBM’s most powerful supercomputer to figure out your deductions, there’s something terribly wrong with our tax system.)
Skittles: This ad came out earlier and was my favorite in terms of humor. A dude is throwing Skittles through his girlfriend’s window to get her attention. Instead, she’s catching them in her mouth, then allowing her mom, her dad, her grandma, a masked robber and the cop to do the same. Oh, yea, and a badger, too. Yum! A
Busch: The sound of opening the can is so impressive, it bugs the local wildlife – but just mildly. Uh huh. C
American Petroleum Institute: Oil, is, like the greatest thing ever!
GoDaddy.com: A man is a manifestation of the Internet with tattoos and a love for Rick Astley (coming to Atlanta for the first time ever to perform Thursday at Center Stage by the way). Cats on Roombas, a topiary-clipping-loving couple and a bamboo-loving panda are included. Silly and possibly memorable. Why? You’ve been Rick Rolled! B-plus
Second quarter (no score)
Lifewatr: A pure visual delight with John Legend singing “Love Me Now.” The rain creates cool art paintings on the ground. “Art makes life,” it notes. B-minus
Intel: Tom Brady makes anything epic, even… grabbing a fallen pancake from the floor and eating it! Huh? Does this make any sense? D-minus
#Weaccept This is clearly the type of ad a certain part of the populace will hate. As photos of people of all different stripes show up, the words “We believe/ no matter who you are/where you’re from/who you love/ or who you worship/ we all belong/ The World is more beautiful/the more you accept. I give it a C for cynical.
World of Tanks: A mockery of Tiny Homes, this is a reality show called “Teensy Homes” – interrupted by a big tank running over the teensy home and almost killing a gnome. This is followed by a similar ad with “Real Awful Momes.” “Tanks rule!” is the kicker. Amusing. B-plus
Yellowtail: “Want to pet my roo?” No. The man in the yellow suit and tie has a pet kangaroo who can (kind of) flip burgers, drink at a cocktail party, hang at the beach with pretty ladies and DJ. Fun. B/B-plus
Disney “Pirates Life.” Pirates meet zombies. Or something like that. Not my cup of tea.
Pistachios: Elephant slips off a treadmill and breaks it but takes no responsibility for what he did. Why did that health club even allow an animal that heavy on a treadmill? Or am I just over-thinking this one? C
Buick: A brand, once revered, now considered “old” tries to turn that on its head. “If that’s a Buick, my kid’s Cam Newton,” says a dad watching his kid get reamed on the field. Predictably, he becomes Cam Newton. Snickers has used this gambit more effectively. C-plus
“Logan” movie. Yet another Marvel Comics movie and yet another Hugh Jackman “Wolverine” sequel. I’m sure English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace” three centuries ago, would be thrilled to see it used in this fashion.
T-Mobile: An effective illustration of a no limit plan but the humor is, as Trump might say, weak. Sorry, Biebs. And Gronk. And T.O. C-minus
Falcons score! 7-0
Honda CR-V. Not quite on message in relation to the car itself but a memorable ad in which famous folks talk to you about following your dreams from the pages of what appear to be their high school yearbooks. Contributors; Stan Lee, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, Amy Adams, “Magic” Johnson, Steve Carell, Jimmy Kimmel, Viola Davis. Docked the grade only because I bet a lot of folks won’t remember the creator of this ad. A-minus
Bai drink: Christopher Walken reads the lines of the ‘N Sync song “Bye Bye Bye” to… a wordless but well-heeled Justin Timberlake. Loved it. Thus, the tie in: #BaiBaiBai. Brilliant! Grade: A
“Transformers 57.” I know, not the 57th “Transformers.” It just feels that way.
Tide: An extended $15 million ad with Terry Bradshaw and Jeffrey Tambor that was witty and amusing at the same time, hitting on all levels. Bradshaw spills barbecue sauce, interrupts the game, takes a golf cart onto the highway to get a new shirt, gets pushed off by a truck into Tambor’s backyard. In the meantime, his stain because world famous. While his shirt gets cleaned, he watches a nature documentary with Tambor who tells him it’s not the stain over his heart that matters but what’s inside. “Really?” Bradshaw says hopefully. “I’m not sure,” Tambor says before closing the door. Kicker: Bradshaw is about to eat a meatball hero. Grade: A/A-plus
Sprint: I saw this ad earlier. Very funny. Father tries to pretend he dies so he can get out of a Verizon contract. B-plus
It’s now 14-0!
Coca Cola: Lots of folks drinking Coke. That’s all.
The Handmaid’s Tale/ Hulu trailer. Two big names Joseph Fiennes and Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”)
WeatherTech: A massive undertaking to get a front mat placed in a car before a coffee cup spills. A little adventure to spice up a pretty pedestrian product. B
Febreze: An attempt to address the smelly No. 2 issue if you happen to take that break after halftime. Eh. The ad doesn’t quite stink but almost does. C
Interception! Now 21-0 before halftime Falcons!
Alfa Romeo: Message– the car has changed over time but always for the better. If you’re into sports cars, this should entice you. Me? I don’t care… C-plus
Michelob Ultra: Because when you’re in as good a shape as the people in this ad, you definitely drink a lot of beer. They clearly decided to use the “Cheers” theme to catch people’s attention (at least people who remember that show). So kudos for that. C
TurboTax: Humpty Dumpty was repaired poorly But he can get deductions for his medical expenses, at least. Mildly amusing. B
Lexus: Great dancing, visually appealing. B
“Fast & Furious 8.” Shot in part in Atlanta. Explosions! A missile! The Rock! Loud music! It’s a classic action trailer.
Squarespace: John Malkovich is angry that someone else has his website. One note. C-minus
Wendy’s: Fresh, never frozen beef. So they show a dude trying to unfreeze frozen beef with a hairdryer to the Foreigner song “Cold as Ice.” Is that all you got? D
Halftime: 21-3 Falcons!
Some local/regional ads:
Xfinity: Standard ad.
Synovus: A rancher notes that his horse is not a Clydesale or gets him a drink or is friends with a cat. “He’s just good at being a horse on this ranch” and notes that he gets help from his bank. Cute.
Porsche: A man drives 430 miles to drop off a letter simply because he loves to drive his Porsche so much. Smart messaging.
84 Lumber: Looked like a film for a mom and daughter trying to get… somewhere.. It’s possibly Mexicans trying to get to the United States? This was created by an Atlanta ad agency Brunner. Not sure what that was about or who 84 Lumber is after watching it. Grade: I can’t even grade that one. I didn’t get the purpose. Presumably, it addresses the whole issue of Trump’s “wall” and the original version of rejected for being too “controversial.” This story said the original ad ends with the words: “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”
Here’s the full ad, though it’s so long, it doesn’t quite qualify as an ad:
TV ads for Fox’s “Empire” and FX’s “Legion.” Then it’s Lady Gaga introduced by her buddy Tony Bennett. (Pepsi sponsored).
NatGeo’s “Genius” featuring an Albert Einstein lookalike playing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on a violin, followed by a promo for FX’s “Feud: Bette and Joan,” then an AT&T ad.
Tiffany & Co.: Lady Gaga (again) playing a harmonica and talking about herself. “I’m too strange. I’m too different. I’m too out there. I”m too artistic. It’s pretentious to talk about how creative you are. I don’t feel that way at all. It’s empowering and it’s important. And I’m coming for you!” Paycheck! Grade: B-minus
Husky and Home Depot, that AT&T ad again.
NFL ad using cute babies dressed in cute football-themed outfits to “You’re the Inspiration.”
An Xfinity mocking AT&T in an ad.
Audi: A nicely cinematic ad about pay equality. Grade: B
Mr. Clean. Mr. Clean is Mr. Sexy! Grade: B
The live Snickers ad: To prove the ad was live, Adam Driver mentions the score. And then the set falls apart. I was entertained. B-plus
That Budweiser ad: The one we knew about already. You can tell Bud spent a ridiculous amount of money on this one. It will stick with you, whether you appreciate it or not. A
T-Mobile: Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart yuk it up. I liked the “can of bisque” line the best after she showed him a pot, but not the one he was thinking of. Much funnier than the Bieber ad. B-plus
Persil: Bill Nye the Science Guy shows up but the ad doesn’t really amount to much, even in 10 dimensions. C-plus
Kia Niro: Melissa McCarthy just takes her own physical humor to a new level saving whales, rhinos, ice caps and trees. Very clever and very Melissa McCarthy. Plus, bonus points for another classic 80’s song “Holding Out For a Hero”! A
Itsa10 Hair Products: The first inference to Donald Trump, noting we’re stuck with “awful hair.” The advertiser hopes for great hair including chest hair, back hair and mohair. Almost political but not really and just weird enough to be memorable. B-plus/A-minus
“Stranger Things” promo: The Atlanta-based Netflix show features a clip of an old “Eggo” ad and Dustin in a Ghostbusters outfit for season two. Hmmm…
The Patriots score their first touchdown deep into the third quarter but misses the extra point! It’s now 28-9.
“A Cure for Wellness” trailer. Scary take on what at first appears to be a health care ad.
Evony the game: Who needs Negan? This time, you Jeffrey Dean Morgan in medieval gear. Timing wise or not, a quick AMC “The Walking Dead” ad pops up where Lucille kills a football.
“Baywatch” trailer: Yes, it’s back with the Rock and Zac Efron and they appear to be taking it even more as a joke than David Hasselhoff did.
Alfa Romea ad. Snooze. What? Did that just happen?
T-Mobile: Kristen Schaal pulls off a nice “50 Shades of Grey” spoof. Grade: B-plus
FOURTH QUARTER, Falcons up 28-9
ZzzQuil: A woman’s consciousness keeps bugging her and preventing her from sleeping until she takes Zzzquil. Pretty standard ad for this type of medicine. C-plus
Wix.com: This one involves plenty of action but the payoff is weak. C
Turkish Airlines: Morgan Freeman. Nuf said. B
King’s Hawaiian: Cute. A dude stores his King’s Hawaiian bag of rolls in a hidden spot. His son finds it. B
Amazon Echo: many quick cut ads, including a reference to Dorito’s, who decided to skip out this year.
Bud Light: Spuds MacKenzie is back! The ghost form leads a dude through a kind of a “Christmas Carol” experience. It has its moments. B
T-Mobile: A follow up to the earlier “50 Shades of Grey” spoof, which was not quite as effective. The surprise is gone, I fathom. B
The Legend of Zelda. Nothing witty about this one. Just pretty straightforward.
Turnover! Touchdown and two-point conversion for the Patriots. It’s : now 28-20
Mercedes: Use of Peter Fonda reprising a bit of his “Easy Rider” “Born to Be Wild” days but this time, he’s driving a Mercedes, not a hog. B-minus
An incredibly elaborate Daytona 500 Fox ad, then a “24: Legacy” promo, then FX’s “Legion” again.
Sprite: LeBron James tells people not to drink Sprite repeatedly but you kind of know where this one’s going. He merely asks. B-minus
KFC: Rob Riggle as Colonel Sanders is upset that Billy Zane’s gold “KFC Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ.” Bonus points for the Georgia reference but the ad is nothing golden special. C-plus