A 30-second commercial slot at Super Bowl 50 had a nearly $5 million price tag — so absolutely no pressure on those ad agencies, right?
Well, some ads definitely delivered (is there really a world where every dude is Ryan Reynolds?!) while others dropped the ball (did those kids really want to sing about that time their parents celebrated a Super Bowl win by doing it?) — plus the most bizarre (we’re looking at you, puppymonkeybaby).
So let’s take a look at the 2016 winners and losers below (and you can revisit last year’s best and worst here):
Ryan Reynolds is a construction worker. Ryan Reynolds is a policeman. Ryan Reynolds is driving that car. Ryan Reynolds is everywhere. This commercial — soundtracked by Salt-N-Pepa‘s “Whatta Man” — is funny while also getting its point across: With Hyundai technology, you won’t hit Ryan Reynolds while he’s walking his dogs.
This ad is backed by the timeliest song — David Bowie‘s “Starman” — but more importantly, it has an emotional message that lands. A retired astronaut hasn’t been excited by life since returning from his mission, but a ride with his son in the rocket-like 2017 Audi R8 brings him back to life.
Kia, “Walken Closet”
Christopher Walken is the perfect celebrity for a Super Bowl commercial. Add that to the perfectly punny concept of having him hanging out in a walk-in, no, Walken closet and giving inspirational life advice, and you have a winner.
Apartments.com, “Movin’ On Up”
This is just the right pairing of song and ad: The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ On Up” performed on a suspended piano by the delightfully eccentric Jeff Goldblum. Watch out for the perfect ending with George and Weezy — you know, O.G. U.S. president George Washington and Lil Wayne, of course.
Squarespace, “Real Talk With Key & Peele”
One of Key & Peele’s best skits ever is their East/West Bowl introductions, with the most insane (and some actually real) football player names. Now they’re on a different side of the game, as Real Talk football announcers with a kick-ass website, thanks to Squarespace. They were made for this Future Hallway.
Avocados From Mexico, “Avos in Space”
Will modern-day humans be remembered for the Rubik’s Cube, Chia Pets and Scott Baio? Probably not, but this is still a pretty great alien museum. The gibberish line at the end delivered completely straight brings this one home.
The NFL’s relationship with women has never been the greatest, but this commercial highlights the NFL dads who are so dedicated to their daughters, they’re even willing to make an attempt at hairdressing. This is cute and powerful.
Honda, “A New Truck to Love”
We’re not sure if anyone really needed a sound system in their truck bed — well, it would be pretty cool for tailgating — but sheep singing Queen is an awesome way to sell it.
TurboTax, “Never a Sellout”
Sir Anthony Hopkins really makes these commercials work by being his regal self. This one is the best, where he says he’ll never be a sellout, while selling the hell out of some TurboTax.
Budweiser, “Simply Put”
Near the end of the game, this commercial demanded attention as Helen Mirren spoke eloquently but firmly to the audience about not being a “pillock” — aka, don’t drink and drive. It’s an important message and one delivered by the perfect authority.
NFL, “Super Bowl Babies Choir”
Listen, we love “Kiss From a Rose” as much as you do. And Seal‘s cameo, crooning in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, made us really hopeful about this one. But the concept of couples doing it after a football game and their children gleefully singing years later about their parents doing it after a football game — all the Seal in the world can’t make up for that.
Pokemon, “20th Anniversary”
This one is mostly just a head-scratcher. We love the concept of kids looking at other kids and being inspired to do bigger, better things. But is the bigger, better thing they’re encouraging just playing more Pokemon?
We’ve met this character before (unfortunately), but Xifaxan felt the need to foist this anthropomorphic intestine on the largest television audience of the year. (Somehow this mess hasn’t made it on YouTube yet, but you can visit Xifaxan’s website to watch it — if you must.)
XIFAXAN: The look on the face of this coiled mass of intestine says it all. pic.twitter.com/Jj9MSkGr6p
— Adweek (@Adweek) February 8, 2016
Victoria’s Secret, “Score More”
OK, we’re not encouraging more scantily clad women in Super Bowl commercials, but Victoria’s Secret literally sells lingerie, and this commercial just shows a really bad game of football coached by Erin Andrews with no clear point or any product to sell. Why?
Quicken, “What Were We Thinking?”
This is more an indictment of the product Quicken is selling. With the housing crisis barely in the rear view, an app called Rocket Mortgage makes it easier than ever to get a house loan. Yup, that’s what we needed — fewer hurdles to mortgages.
THE MOST BIZARRE
Mountain Dew, “Puppymonkeybaby”
Puppies? Cute. Monkeys? Cute. Babies? Supercute. Puppymonkeybaby? Holy God, no, never again. But we’re still singing “Puppymonkeybaby” to ourselves, so…