Past post-Super Bowl TV Blogs assessing the game’s commercials have focused on the issues of taste, sadness, exuberance, comedy, drama, appropriateness, social sermonizing and above all, the memorability of the selling messages as they cut across all of those categories.
This year’s recap, the ninth annual Super Bowl commercial post-mortem under the TV Blog’s current author, will likely focus on the same subjects.
The subject of sad ads that fly in the face of the party-hearty atmosphere of Super Bowl Sunday have been decried here since 2015.
These included that year’s Nationwide Insurance spot featured a voiceover by a small boy who lamented in a sad voice that he did not live long enough to have a full life.
Another one was the 2019 spot for Kia Telluride in which another sad boy, this one very much alive, was heard in a forlorn voice describing his small Georgia town “in terms so desolate you might have thought he was describing a town that had been deserted in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s,” the TV Blog wrote then.
Then came 2021’s Bruce Springsteen commercial for Jeep (screenshot, above) in which this he was seen driving a Jeep down some lonely backroad in middle America decrying the shape it was in.
Surprisingly, last year’s Super Bowl roundup cited no sad ads. “It was refreshing to see so many spots this year that were upbeat, with none of the gloom-and-doom of some Super Bowl commercials in previous years,” the TV Blog said last February.
Super Bowl spots deemed inappropriate were those that used voiceovers from recorded speeches of historical figures who should not have been positioned as commercial shills.
One was Martin Luther King’s voice in a spot for Dodge Ram trucks in 2018. “What’s next: Martin Luther King Day spots with actors costumed as King declaring that they ‘have a dream’ about big savings at your tri-state Dodge dealers?”
Another one was the 2015 spot in which the voice of President Kennedy, whose assassination in 1963 changed the course of world history, was used to promote Carnival Cruises.
Looking back at past Super Bowl commercial recaps, the spots that came in for the most praise here were neither dramatic nor comedic, just straight-ahead messages.
A paragraph in the 2019 column typified this assessment. “Many advertisers during the big game played it straight,” the TV Blog wrote. “These included WeatherTech, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Yellowtail Wines, Skullshaver.com, Wix.com and ADT. These were all great commercials.”
Looking back on the previous columns, it is clear that comedic commercials featuring A-list stars fared best year after year in the TV Blog.
A couple of examples, out of many, included 2019’s Uber Eats spot with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reuniting for a revival of “Wayne’s World”; 2020’s “Boston accent” spot for the Hyundai Sonata featuring John Krasinski, Chris Evans and Rachel Dratch; and, that same year, the “Can't Touch This” Cheetos popcorn spot featuring MC Hammer.
Lastly, in all the past eight of super Bowl commercial roundups, only a few commercials have been slapped with a “tasteless” label.
The most notorious of these was a 2019 spot for Cure Auto Insurance in which a man and a woman are having a heart-to-heart talk across a table and he becomes frustrated by a screw inexplicably protruding from her forehead.
So, at one point, he leans over, holds both sides of her head with his hands, and cruelly and aggressively yanks out the screw with his teeth.
“So, basically, this was a TV commercial that used a vignette of male rage and aggression to sell auto insurance,” I wrote then.
Just as memorable -- and not in a good way -- was a 2016 spot in which a woman about to give birth in a hospital bed craved Doritos so much that her unborn baby suddenly shot out of her like a cannon. Alrighty then.
As for this Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII, may the best commercials win.
I thought that the Doritos ad with the baby shooting out was quite funny and one of the best ads of The 2016 Super Bowl.