With such a laugher of a game this year, the Super Bowl commercials often held our attention more than the action on the field. There was the usual slew of cars, beer and Americana (and, weirdly, not one but two Greek yogurt commercials?), but despite an apparent emphasis on serious ads this year, there were a few standouts. Thus, without further ado, we present the best and worst Super Bowl commercials of 2014.
This one starts out as a simple sight-gag (and, yes, it turns out a dog with a giant head and a tiny body is pretty funny), but Sarah McLachlan’s cameo—which pokes fun at those heart-wrenching ASPCA ads of hers—is what took it to the next level.
Doritos Time Machine
Smart kid, dumb guy, surprisingly funny commercial.
The material itself was a little weak, but who cares? It’s Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, together again, on TV! At Tom’s Restaurant! With a special appearance by Newman! They could have been reciting Bob Dylan’s Chrysler commercial and we still would have loved it.
Tim Tebow for T-Mobile
Get it? It’s because Tim Tebow doesn’t have a contract. (If the whole football thing doesn’t pan out, maybe he’s got a future as an actor? That Illegal Formation cop movie looked pretty good.)
Radioshack Remembers the ‘80s
The ‘80s cameos were fun (Cliff Clavin! Dee Snider! Hulk Hogan! The California Raisins! Mary Lou Retton! Alf!), but what really made this commercial great was the fact that the company was essentially using the biggest advertising platform available to call itself out, implying “Our stores suck. Sorry. We’re fixing this.”
Stephen Colbert for Wonderful Pistachios
Colbert had us going for a second there. Part 1 of this spot plays it straight, to the point where we’re left wondering if that was really it. But then he returns, announces the first ad didn’t work and splits his face in half like a pistachio. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of, but it’s also one of the night’s finest ads.
Bob Dylan for Chrysler
So, OK. Bob Dylan’s “sold out” before. He’s done commercials in the past, appearing in that weird Victoria’s Secret spot. He even turned up in an episode of Dharma & Greg. So the issue here isn’t that Dylan’s in a commercial; it’s that he’s in an awful commercial. “Is there anything more American than America?” Who wrote this? (We won’t even get into that “Let Germany brew your beer” dig.)
Maserati Ghibli: Strike
I’m not really sure how a car that costs $66,900 can try to market itself as the scrappy underdog, but for some reason that’s what Maserati went with. “We wait until they get sleepy, wait until they get so big they can barely move, and then we walk out of the shadows, quietly walk out of the dark…and STRIKE,” whispers Quvenzhané Wallis. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, but I think the rich people are coming to kill us?
Axe War and Peace
The images of dictators detonating romantic fireworks instead of nuclear bombs and couples embracing by tanks and killing fields are a little cheesy, but the message of peace makes it seem worthwhile…until we learn at the end that it’s an Axe Body Spray ad and the whole thing’s totally cheapened.
Bud Light Kidnaps a Guy and Also Arnold Schwarzenegger is There
Is the message here supposed to be “getting kidnapped, hanging out in a limo with Reggie Watts and defeating The Governator in ping-pong are the only scenarios where it’d be reasonable to drink a Bud Light”? Because that’s what I’m getting from this.
Carmax’s Slow Clap
“HEY! HAVE YOU GUYS HEARD OF THIS THING, THE ‘SLOW CLAP’? I HEAR IT’S PRETTY POPULAR DURING SPORTING EVENTS. LET’S MAKE THAT OUR WHOLE SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL.”
Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt
Let’s ignore the fact that this is a commercial for an enchilada melt with Fritos on it. Let’s ignore the awful acting from these Olympic athletes (“wait a minute. The Fritos go ON the sub??”). Let’s even ignore that awful “whole enchildada” pun. Even if we look past all of that, this commercial introduced the devilishly stupid jingle “cruncha muncha, Fritos on my sub,” so it’s obviously pure evil.
BEST LOCAL AD
There are no words to describe this two-minute local ad for a Savannah, Ga. attorney. Just watch (and be prepared to have your life changed).