More than 100 million viewers are expected to tune in to Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Feb. 12 to see three things: the face-off between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, Rihanna’s return to the stage with her halftime performance, and the buzzy, big-budget commercials between the main events. It’s no secret that the most watched U.S. television program, airing on Fox, features the most expensive ads of the year, with advertisers shelling out upwards of $7 million for a 30 second slot. Total ad revenue for pre- and post-game commercials for last year’s event was over $630 million.
Year after year, advertisers continue up the ante to create the most memorable, star-studded campaigns. In recent years, to get fans engaged before the Super Bowl, they’ve begun rolling out their campaigns in the weeks leading up to the event.
Here’s a roundup of the most noteworthy commercials, as well as some of the misses, that launched in advance of the big game and continued throughout game night.
It’s an unlikely choice for a beer commercial to feature a non-alcoholic product, but Heineken makes it work. The Dutch beer company’s Super Bowl commercial celebrates sobriety with their Heineken 0.0 beer, which contains 0% alcohol. With the help of Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man character, ahead of Marvel’s Feb. 17 release of Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, Rudd is seen opening a cold one despite a note left on the fridge stating, “No shrinking and drinking.” Ant-Man, also known as Scott Lang, is seen presumably going on his superhero duties, as Heinken reminds viewers that they too can conquer the work day with a Heinken 0.0.
Most On-Brand Casting: Dunkin’
Nobody runs on Dunkin’ like actor Ben Affleck. The American coffee and donut company puts Affleck where he appears happier than usual: working at a drive-thru in Medford, Mass., taking fans’ coffee and donut orders. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the other half of “Bennifer,” a.k.a. his wife Jennifer Lopez, appears next in the drive-thru with a demand for her husband: “Grab me a glaze!”
Most Questionable Casting: Avocados from Mexico
Actor Anna Faris portrays a nude Eve in what appears to be the Garden of Eden in Avocados from Mexico’s commercial. Faris takes a small bite from a forbidden apple, when a squirrel suddenly appears offering an avocado as a solution to her “mistake.” Fast forward to the future and New York City is suddenly coined “The Big Avocado.” A nude Faris-as-Eve in a very blonde wig isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of avocados from Mexico.
Most Dramatic: Squarespace
Beloved actor Adam Driver stares at a computer when he comes to the realization: Squarespace is a website that makes websites. Driver then suddenly appears in a sci-fi-like film set, accompanied with a dramatic score, and an endless replication of the Academy Award actor, as he reiterates, “Websites making websites.” Safe to say fans were more than content with Driver’s ad appearance.
Most Romantic: McDonald’s
Right in time for Valentines Day, McDonalds’ simple, yet effective ad celebrates lovers and their fast-food orders. A series of real-life couples unveil their partner’s go-to order, including celebrity rappers Cardi B and Offset. This comes ahead of the couple’s exclusive meal, available on Feb. 14. According to the 80-year-old fast-food chain, knowing your partner’s order is “a sign of loving them.”
Biggest Innovation: Dexcom
Singer Nick Jonas’ has been public about his journey with Type-1 diabetes. He’s now using his platform to spotlight the industry’s latest innovation: the Dexcom G7, a glucose monitoring system for all types of diabetes. The monitor on your arm connects to your phone to accurately track your glucose levels. Diabetes information site diaTribe called the product “perhaps the year’s most anticipated release in diabetes tech.” Jonas also starred in Dexcom’s Super Bowl commercial two years ago for the release of the G6, the company’s previous continuous glucose monitor.
While many viewers praised the singer for his commercial, others raised issues about insulin affordability for many people with diabetes.
Most Star-Studded: Michelob ULTRA
Inspired by 1980s comedy Caddyshack, Michelob ULTRA puts a cluster of public figures on a country club golf course. The lineup of stars includes successful athletes in everything but golf–there’s former football quarterback Tony Romo, soccer player Alex Morgan, basketball players Nneka Ogwumike and Jimmy Butler, and boxer Canelo Álvarez. Succession star Brian Cox looks to have a hard time getting a hole-in-one, but tennis icon Serena Williams makes it happen with a little help from the light lager beer.
Most Unexpected Collaboration: Workday
System software company Workday’s commercial preview features various classic rockers like Billy Idol and Joan Jett complaining about office employees calling each other “rock stars.” British rocker Ozzy Osborne is then seen in an unlikely setting: a corporate office. Even in a professional button- down and tie, Osborne is still undeniably a heavy metal icon in his signature black eyeliner as he offers his colleagues in-office piercings. Not bad for Workday’s first Super Bowl ad.
Most Relatable: Pringles
Mega pop stars are just like us—at least when it comes to eating Pringles. The chip brand’s ad showcases singer Meghan Trainor with a struggle we know all too well: getting those last pringle chips from the bottle’s narrow can, and then getting your hand all but stuck inside. Trainor is not alone: from surgeons to judges to airport grounds crew, getting hands stuck in the Pringles can is common ground for us all.
Funniest: Busch Beer
American lager Busch Beer’s commercial is set against a mountainous backdrop. Their guide to survival in the cold includes food, Busch Light beer, and shelter. As they demonstrate the latter, Sarah McLachlan’s “In The Arms of an Angel” begins playing—a song best known for ASPCA commercials that feature McLachlan pleading for donations on behalf of helpless animals. In Busch Beer’s video, McLachlan herself comes out of a tent with a similar plea: “For just dollars a day you can help helpless animals find shelter.” She’s quickly interrupted by a man holding a beer can with a cheeky response: “Wrong shelter, Sarah.”
Most Interactive: FanDuel
FanDuel, an online gambling company, has quite literally kicked off their “Kick of Destiny” campaign with a commercial featuring Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ retired tight end Rob Gronkowski training for his Super Bowl return with coaching from one of the NFL’s greatest kickers, Adam Vinatieri. But this ad goes beyond its preview—Gronkowski attempted to kick a field goal during FanDuel’s live commercial. If he was successful, fans who placed bets of $5 or more were told they would earn a portion of a $10 million jackpot. Although Gronkowski’s kick was ultimately unsuccessful, FanDuel surprised fans by still giving them their reward.
Most Unexpected: Prime
Right before kickoff, an ad for a sports drink appeared, but it wasn’t for Gatorade or Vitamin Water. The 30-second slot was for Prime, a hydration and energy drink from onetime YouTube viral stars and now business partners KSI and Logan Paul. They’ve made history as the first creator-led brand to have a full ad at the Super Bowl.
Most Suspenseful: Downy
Most Super Bowl preview ads are quick to showcase their celebrity partnerships, but not Downy. Their teaser for Downy Unstopables, an in-wash scent booster that claims to keep your clothes fresh for over 12 weeks, doesn’t reveal much. The celebrity in the preview covers their head with a sweatshirt stating, “I’m going to sniff this thing until the Super Bowl to see if it’s true. But until then, I’m totally hiding my identity.” Fan speculations were right: it was actor Danny McBride all along.
Most Nostalgic (Movies): Rakuten
The ad for Rakuten, an application that gives users cash back on purchases, features Alicia Silverstone back in her iconic plaid Clueless get-up, alongside co-star Elisa Donovan. As Silverstone walks through a classroom much like the one where she made a memorable case for the U.S. government to welcome more refugees, she passes other familiar faces including fashion designer Christian Siriano, and says, “I used to be pretty clueless about shopping, like when I heard I could save by getting cashback with Rakuten I was like ‘As If.’” She concludes, “But then I was like, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’”
Most Nostalgic (Music): Uber One
Uber One, a membership for exclusive deals on Uber and Uber Eats, partnered with rapper Sean Combs, better known as Diddy, to bring out some major music throwbacks. The commercial begins with Diddy sitting in his Combs Global office as the Uber One team requests that he produce a jingle for their product. Diddy has a better idea: parodying throwback songs like Joe Stone’s “The Party (This Is How We Do It)” and replacing the lyrics with infomercial-style lines about Uber One. He even taps artists like Kelis for her 2003 hit “Milkshake,” Haddaway for his 1993 dance-pop song “What Is Love” and music duo Ylvis for their 2013 viral song “What Does the Fox Say?.”
Biggest Stunt: M&M’s
Just last month M&M’s announced that they’d be taking “an indefinite pause from the spokescandies” in response to the criticism they received after making progressive changes to their cartoon characters—particularly from right-wing commentators like Tucker Carlson. As the move set off yet another frenzy in the Culture Wars, the company announced that comedian Maya Rudolph would be the brand’s new spokesperson. In the ad that aired Sunday night, Rudolph is surrounded by what she jokingly renames “ma&ya’s,” with the spokescandies making a minor cameo in the commercial, holding up a “Help!” sign, as if being held hostage.
Most Wholesome: T-Mobile
This year, T-Mobile gave viewers more than their usual, “America’s largest 5G network” spiel. Actor Bradley Cooper is joined by his mother Gloria to discuss the company’s services. But Gloria, the true star of the commercial, isn’t afraid to be ruthlessly honest with her famous son, making fun of his bright hot pink T-Mobile tee. “You look like a flamingo, she tells him.” She doesn’t forget to poke fun at Cooper’s lack of an Academy Award win, despite his nine nominations: “Yeah, but you never won any!”
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