A Review of This Year’s Super Bowl Commercials

Oscar Shaver, Staff Writer

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Coming into this year’s Super Bowl, I was unenthusiastic knowing that the Steelers weren’t going to be in it, but more importantly, I was scared of the possibility that the New England Patriots might win and tie us for having the most Super Bowl wins of any NFL franchise. I did not want to think about this, so as I prepared myself to watch the game by eating an unhealthy amount of nachos and chicken wings, I realized that there was something to look forward to: the commercials. The Super Bowl is the most heavily advertised television event in America, with companies paying millions of dollars to convey to millions of Americans a message. As far as Super Bowl commercials go, there are usually two types of messages: funny and compelling. To give a holistic overview of this year’s Super Bowl commercials and how they invoked different emotions, I will be ranking my three favorite commercials from each category. Just to disclaim, this is completely opinion based. I have provided the links to the commercials I will be addressing as well as a link to one website containing all the ads aired at this year’s Super Bowl.

Funny Commercials:

  1. Amazon Alexa

It’s always good to laugh at yourself. Amazon’s commercial mocks the spread of its Alexa voice assistant device, humorously placing the technology in objects such as microwaves, dog callers, and hot tubs. These failed applications of Alexa are start of small and innocent but then end up comically hurling people twenty feet into the air and shutting down America’s power grid. The commercial stars Harrison Ford as a dog owner, who is left with dozens of bags of dog food after his dog ordered them with the help of Alexa. As funny as this commercial was it also offers some insight into just how much technology has developed. While some might find this funny, others may find it scary, realizing that products like this may actually be available in the near future.

2. Bud Light (both commercials)

As stupid and corny as this was, I found myself laughing at this commercial more so than any other Super Bowl advertisement this year. This explanation may actually be more of a testament to my cheesy sense of humor, but I’ll try my best to convey the humor found in it. The first advertisement depicts a treacherous journey of knights from the Bud Light kingdom traveling from kingdom to kingdom (each kingdom is named after other actual beer companies) asking if they had received their shipment of corn syrup because they wrongfully received a shipment of it in mass quantities. Each kingdom had a different explanation, basically another way of saying that they had already gotten their shipment and, in doing so, admitting that their beer uses corn syrup. It’s a really clever and corny way of dissing other beer companies, and I think the whole knight get up Bud Light does is generally pretty funny. Overall pretty solid advertising. The other Bud Light commercial, which probably has more people talking, shows the death of the beloved Bud Knight, who was killed in a joust by “the Mountain” from Game of Thrones. The commercial quickly turned into a Games of Thrones crossover advertisement for the final season, with a dragon swooping in and breathing fire on the entire Bud Light kingdom. Smart choice on Bud Light’s part, teaming up with Game of Thrones made the commercial much more memorable and excited fans for the upcoming final season that is to release this April.

  1. NFL 100 Years Celebration

As an NFL fan, this was truly a fun commercial to watch. This star-studded advertisement featured NFL stars of past and present, attending the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season. In the commercial, Commissioner Rodger Goodell’s speech is interrupted when Marshawn Lynch tries to sneak a piece of cake, and a golden football falls from the top. Players quickly scramble to retrieve the ball and it turns into a game of keep away with stars from the past such as Terry Bradshaw, trying to run away from contemporary stars like Aaron Donald. The scramble ends when the ball ends up in Franco Harris’s hands, as he famously bends down to catch the ball, reminiscent of the Immaculate Reception. The NFL has been under fire recently for a number of things and I think this commercial is an attempt to portray the NFL in a new, comical light, amidst this controversy, and I think they did a pretty good job in depicting themselves as such.

Compelling Commercials

Before I begin this list, I would like to formally define what I believe to be a compelling commercial. These are the commercials that seek to tackle social issues or tell a story, in hopes of bringing certain to issues that to light and having people associate a brand or company with an issue that they may find important. Because this is the biggest stage for advertisements, I think that these types of advertisements have to ability to be very eye-opening and powerful, contrary to the goofy advertisement approach that most companies take.

  1. Washington Post

Tackling one of the most talked about issues right now, the Washington Post’s advertisement vouches for journalism and the journalists who risk their lives to inform us about what’s going on in our own country and the rest of the world. The entire field of journalism has been recently attacked. With the rise of “fake news”, people are not only criticizing newspapers like the Washington Post but are also losing faith in them. Narrated by Tom Hanks, the commercial begins by showing pictures of World War II, the March on Selma, and the moon landing, declaring that, “there is someone to gather the facts”, showing that journalists have always been there to tell a story through our country’s proudest and most trying moments. The advertisement then mentions the risks of journalism, using pictures of Austin Tice, Marie Colvin, and Jamal Khashoggi, all journalists who has famously died doing their job, to make the point that these people are constantly sacrificing their lives to bring us the news. The commercial ends by saying that, “Knowing empowers us, knowing helps us decide, and that knowing keeps us free”. This was a very powerful way to end the commercial because it leaves you with a sense of gratefulness that may not have existed before for the profession of journalism, a feeling perhaps of sympathy considering the current treatment of these people, as well as those who have so bravely died. It also makes the point that staying informed, in this age, is what will essentially keep us grounded in these trying times. Overall this advertisement had a purpose and it was well executed; it portrayed a message that will stick in our heads and remind us the next time we read the newspaper, of the importance of journalism.

  1. Google

Google’s commercial touched on a bunch of different issues while promoting the use of its translating services. The premise of the commercial is that there are 100 billion words, that can have many different uses. The commercial starts off by showing how translation helps bring from all over the world together, depicting the happiness of people who have the opportunity to communicate and learn from one another despite the obvious language barrier. The advertisement takes a sudden turn when it mentions that words are also used to create division, showing pictures of riots. The commercial ends by stating that despite all the good and bad that exists in our world today, the most commonly translated phrases are: “How are you?”, “thank you”, and “I love you”. This feel good ending, at least for me, resonated the message that Google is trying to make, that despite all the hate that is seen on the news, internet, and social media, there is still good in the world shown through genuine human interaction.

  1. Microsoft

This was by far this year’s best “feel-good” advertisement. Microsoft’s ad highlights the impact and importance of inclusion, telling the stories of kids with different physical disabilities, who now have the chance to fit in and relate to other kids by way of playing video games with their new, easy to use controllers. The commercial shares the experiences that all these kids had while playing video games and how the new Xbox controller allows them to play like everybody else. One of the more powerful lines is when the one kid’s dad, with tears in his eyes, says, “He’s not different when he plays”. Just seeing the different kids’ faces during the commercial personally made me really happy and I think that was Microsoft’s purpose in creating this ad. When I first saw this commercial, the room full of people I was with stopped talking immediately as we all closely stared at television for the next minute. This advertisement is very powerful, and I think Microsoft did a good job of promoting its brand, but more importantly promoting the idea of inclusion, which many kids currently struggle with in America.

Worst Super Bowl Commercial (by far):

The Michelob Ultra commercial was absolutely horrendous and, quite honestly, made me sick to my stomach. Trying to take advantage of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) social media phenomenon, the advertisement shows a woman whispering to the audience while clicking her nails against, opening, and pouring the beer into a tall glass, in attempts to create the feeling of calmness that ASMR tries to induce. This failed miserably in my opinion, and probably freaked out all the people who were fortunate enough to have not been introduced to this phenomenon in the first place. Overall, awful attempt at capturing the attention of the young crowd, also very unsettling. 1.5/10

Conclusion:

Despite the heartbreaking lose for Steeler’s fans, this year’s Super Bowl offered commercials that were funny and commercials that had a purpose. This year definitely featured more “compelling” commercials compared to recent years and, despite losing some potential laughs, I really think that having these commercials on the big stage are beneficial and eye-opening to us all.

Here is the link to the website that lists all of the 2019 Super Bowl Commercials:

Link: https://www.businessinsider.com/super-bowl-commercials-2019-list-2019-1#the-washington-post-35

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