The Best, Worst and Weirdest Super Bowl 2023 Commercials
The non-game-related action that had people talking during Super Bowl LVII was, of course, Rihanna. But the other big deal on Super Bowl Sundays is, eternally, the commercials. This year’s crop felt especially mailed in: a few requisite A-lister cameos, a beloved pop culture reunion or two, and trailers for upcoming summer blockbusters. Still, there were a few that were genuinely funny. And more than several total bricks. Let’s run through the highs and lows below.
Release the Hounds
Super Bowl ads don’t often make people tear up. But the Farmer’s Dog and Amazon sure did try! Watching this one surely made anyone with a pet hold them a little closer. Some may call these ads emotional terrorism, like a condensed version of cinematic heart-shredders like Marley and Me. But they’re good dogs, and good ads, dammit!
A Very E*Trade Wedding
The E*Trade baby ads have been a Super Bowl staple for years. This year’s ad featured two talking babies at a wedding, with Pete Holmes and Roy Wood, Jr. lending their voice talents. A dig at the Metaverse was a highlight here but this one didn’t have to work hard because let’s face it: babies talking like grown adults will never lose their appeal.
Affleck’s New Gig
Ben Affleck’s unwavering affinity for Dunkin Donuts coffee has become a full blown internet fascination in the past few years, so it was about time he leaned into the bit—and the conspiracy that he’s actually been a paid DD shill this whole time—with an actual ad. The cat was already out of the bag on this one though, as he and J. Lo were seen filming the commercial a few weeks ago. Still, seeing Ben in a drive-thru, taking orders and getting caught by his wife is a layup for an easy chuckle.
The Roast of Mr. Peanut
An anthropomorphic peanut getting roasted is actually clever as hell, when you really think about it. This ad is also a good turnaround for Planters, who infamously killed off their mascot several years ago. (A real marketing misfire that is still no less confusing.) Fortunately, Mr. Peanut, despite receiving various barbs from Jeff Ross, Natasha Leggero, and company, survives this ad with only a bruised ego. Or a bruised shell. Do peanuts have egos?
Why would you call this “Paramount Mountain” and not “Paramountain?” It’s right there! Also how do you underutilize Beavis and Butthead? People noticing Sly Stallone having an…unusual face isn’t a new gag, and, just like Stallone in the ad, it falls flat here. The network boasting all its stars in an ad makes sense, but not all of them are given enough (or anything) to do here.
Ham and Mayo
At some point an investigation must be launched into whether Jon Hamm’s agent is actively working against him. This ad relies on food puns, because he’s in a fridge, get it? Because of his last name! And Oscar winner Brie Larson is there too, because cheese! They’re a sandwich! This ad isn’t helped by the inclusion of Pete Davidson, who pops up in things like this to barely exist. This one felt lazy, and beneath the talents of everyone involved.
Any Ad Asking Viewers to Scan a QR Code
Look, QR codes are fine for restaurant menus. But stop asking us to scan things during commercials! Some of us are beers deep, trying to find the last remnants of the taco dip! We can’t be bothered! We don’t care about your mobile game or that new Joel McHale show! Stop giving us homework! Most of our phones aren’t even charged enough to do this anyway!
The Unstoppable Jesus PR Machine
Jesus has been around for over 2000 years. He has one of the most prolific careers of all time. So why are there so many ads promoting him all of a sudden? These ads are truly bizarre regardless of your faith. It also doesn’t help that they’re linked to a virulent, anti-LGBTQ organization. But even ignoring that, these ads, promulgating such ideals as “being childlike” and “loving those who hate us” seem… out of place.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Streaming sites like Tubi need to do everything they possibly can to get more viewers, as they’re fighting against giants like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others. This absolute nightmare of an ad featuring enormous bunnies Spartan-kicking people into endless pits of streaming entertainment just might help. This was the collective, simultaneous reaction most ads dream of eliciting, with many people thinking their TVs were on the fritz or the dog sat on the remote because of the way it started. The “down the rabbit hole” explanation is clever, but this one may have been too weird to do Tubi much good.
Return of the M&Ms
This one gets bonus points for weirdness because the company made an official announcement about Maya Rudolph replacing the spokescandies weeks before the spot aired. The spot itself feels like an Eric Andre sketch that was cut. M&Ms filled with clams is too disgusting of an image to really forget. It was blatant from the start that this was a marketing ploy, and one that made Tucker Carlson really mad, so, we all win in that regard.
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