For some, the Super Bowl is actually the biggest football game of the year or a rare Rihanna concert, but for others it’s all about the commercials. Super Bowl ads have become entertaining spectacles that play like 30 second clips from big budget movies or emotional scenes that get tears flowing from even the most coldhearted viewers. When a Super Bowl commercial is good, it’s easy to forget its main purpose is to sell something.
But in the digital age one very important element has gone missing: surprise. Twenty years ago, the moments leading up to the commercial breaks were filled with anticipation. Which brand got that coveted top spot? What unusual pairing of celebrities will bring the biggest laughs of the night? Which pop superstar will be signing the new Pepsi jingle?
In the time since, however, it’s become more and more common for brands to not only tease their commercials with social media campaigns and YouTube clips, but release the commercials in their entirety before the Super Bowl even airs. Instead of being delighted when Melissa McCarthy suddenly pops up on screen, it becomes arduous to see her yet again after weeks of announcements and clips and even news reports on the Booking.com commercial she’ll be appearing in.
This year, the cost for Super Bowl ad spots is at an all-time high, with 30-second spots going for $7 million. At that price point, you’d think that companies would want to put out the most compelling, most hilarious, most heart-wrenching commercials they can — and who knows, that could still be coming from brands that have had the good sense to keep things under wraps. Cosmetics brand e.l.f., for instance, has only revealed that its commercial will be written by The White Lotus creator Mike White and directed by Maggie Carey (The Sex Lives of College Girls, Never Have I Ever) without giving much else away. But based on the previews so far, the entirety of these ads’ budgets went to hiring celebrities for no reason other than to say “look at these celebrities!” In short: Super Bowl commercials are now boring.
Out of the dozens of commercials that have already hit the internet pre-Super Bowl, these are the 8 most underwhelming.
This may be the most advertised commercial of the game, making it all the more disappointing. This Breaking Bad reunion isn’t quite as momentous as it would have been a year ago, before Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul both showed up on the final season of Better Call Saul, but even then this spot isn’t exactly channeling the most exciting parts of the show. This may as well have been a bad improv scene.
There’s something at least historically notable about this commercial — it marks the first time there will be a non-alcoholic beer ad during the Super Bowl. But because of the Marvel crossover, the ad (which is light on Marvel magic) came out a full month before the Super Bowl to align with the release of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd is always charming as hell and even he can’t save this yawn-worthy commercial.
Budweiser has given the world some of the most iconic Super Bowl commercials of all time, from the completely ridiculous to the epically heartwarming. With expectations already set that high, it’s even easier to fail. And while this certainly isn’t the worst commercial in the world, the strongest reaction it might elicit is “cute” or “that’s nice.” Kevin Bacon is famously six degrees away from everyone and he voices the commercial about everyone being just a six beers away from everyone. Cute. That’s nice. Moving on.
The concept of this commercial is convoluted, and not in a way that makes it particularly interesting. For some reason there’s a gopher or some similar kind of rodent sharing avocados with Adam and Eve, and that transports the pair to present day Times Square where it’s no longer shameful to walk around without clothes on. The idea screams “we wanted to get Anna Faris naked” in a way that besmirches avocados’ good name.
Downy Unstopables actually had the right idea with its early teasers: Someone, a mystery celebrity, was stuck in a hoodie taking in the fresh smells until someone could guess who he was. If the company had stuck to that and used the teasers as they’re meant to be used — to tease — it may have been able to offer something climactic on game day. Instead, we now already know that the mystery celeb is Danny McBride and what follows is simply too tame for what we’ve come to expect from the outrageous actor.
We’ve never witnessed so little happen in a Super Bowl commercial. Try harder, Bud Light.
The dialogue in the commercial seems to mirror what happened in the room while creating this commercial. Jon Hamm and Brie Larson, ham and brie, sandwich, mayonnaise! The commercial has an honorable message: avoid food waste. But by the time Pete Davidson shows up it feels more like an excuse to just put three celebrities together for the sake of doing so.
The online betting company provides the ultimate example of throwing random celebrities together to see what sticks. Kevin Hart leads the charge with David Ortiz, Ludacris, The Undertaker, and Tony Hawk each joining for their 2 seconds of Super Bowl LVII commercial fame. Beyond that, there’s not much else worth mentioning.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.