Many considered this year’s Super Bowl disappointing, considering the uncompetitive 43-8 Seahawks victory over the Broncos. Unfortunately, the commercials, usually one of the game’s most enjoyable parts even among those who don’t follow football, were hardly better than the gameplay this year. In fact, most of the commercials this year were so tritely bland that it is impossible to make a good list of the best ones or even the worst ones. Even so, there were three Super Bowl Commercials that stood out, for better or for worse.
First up is Coca Cola’s obligatory advertisement; a visually appealing montage of people of all ages and ethnicities enjoying themselves through nature, family, and the occasional Coke, all set to a rendition of America the Beautiful done in many languages. Upon my first viewing of the commercial, I found its use of such an emotionally charged, American song to be a bit too sentimental: a cheap grab at associating patriotism with a Coke. However, after viewing the reaction to the commercial online, my position reversed considerably. Scores of people on Twitter angrily wrote that it was inappropriate and unpatriotic for Coke to play the national anthem in any language but English. This is ridiculous not only because of how xenophobic it is, but also because these supposed patriots have no idea that The Star Spangled Banner is the national anthem. While I still find the commercial’s association of patriotism with Coca Cola to be a bit too heavy-handed, it was still the most beautifully shot of all the commercials, and its proud display of diverse multilingualism among Americans makes it one of the best this year.
Chrysler’s use of the iconic Bob Dylan was a risk, and it definitely backfired. As a politically engaged liberal folk singer, Dylan is very well known for being against materialism. His acting was charming enough, but the idea of Bob Dylan trying to peddle Chryslers for a paycheck made my skin crawl. While I have nothing against the idea of him being in a commercial, it would have to focus more on associating his distinct image with the product in a convincing way, which Chrysler did not do. The cringe-inducing script certainly didn’t help this hypocritical advertisement. “Is there anything more American than America?” No, Bob, there isn’t. There’s also nothing less American than forcing Bob Dylan to spout drivel he himself could have written better in five minutes flat.
The Cheerios commercial, entitled “Gracie,” stars the same mixed-race family that ignited a shockingly racist backlash from a previous commercial. While my cynical side tells me that the company only made a similar commercial in order to reignite a controversy where they are clearly in the right, it would have been far worse if they had stopped using the family simply to appease racists. Besides, this commercial is undeniably sweet, with an adorable little girl bargaining for a puppy even as her parents surprise her with the news that she’s about to get a baby brother. This isn’t the most ambitious commercial of the bunch, but it more than makes up for it with sheer charm.
While the commercials above each stood out in their own way, most commercials this year were simply underwhelming. Let’s hope that next year both the gameplay and the ads take a turn for the memorable.