The Best and Worst Commercials of Super Bowl LVI

Austin Bristow knows little about football, but he can watch ads.

We’re back. Last year on a whim (and the unexpected insistence from some colleagues) I published The Best Commercials of Super Bowl LV. This year, I decided I would highlight some of the commercials that did not work for me, along with my favorites.

It should be noted, I know almost nothing about football. I do not watch football beyond the big game, and I mostly watch it for the ads. Additionally, I have an odd sense of humor. I tend to enjoy absurdity and awkwardness; Community and BoJack Horseman are two of my favorite comedic shows. The following list is absolutely MY personal favorites of the lot, not really based on any particular criteria. Does that make the following list objectively correct? Yes, yes it does. If I snubbed your favorite I’m honestly not that sorry and won’t fight you.

 

What Worked 

#6 Irish Spring – Cast Thy Smell Away

This is the absurdity I want from my Super Bowl ads! Bring an Average Joe to an idyllic glade full of (inexplicably not Irish) people. Beset him with strange and aggressive cultish ritual in which he must “Cast thy smell away.” Oh, and throw in a rabbit screaming in English with a deep voice and I’m giggling for sure! I expected so little from an Irish Spring commercial, but I am pleasantly surprised to have them here!

 

#5 Toyota/Paralympics – Brothers

I’m a sucker for a story of brotherly love and overcoming adversity. Toyota brings us another great Paralympic story of Canada’s most decorated Winter Paralympian, Brian McKeever, and his brother Robin. After Brian was diagnosed with an untreatable degenerative eye condition, Robin supported his dreams of Olympic skiing. The two trained together and went on to win 10 Paralympic medals, cross-country skiing together the whole way. It’s hard not to at least smile at a story like that.

 

#4 Planters – Feed the Debate

I said at the top that I love Community. So, to see Joel McHale and Ken Jeong together on screen again was great (#SixSeasonsAndAMovie). Planter’s big game spot sees the two are enjoying beer and mixed nuts, but cannot agree on whether to eat one at a time or throw a handful together. After asking the internet who is right the scene immediately deteriorates into all-out chaos as America is bitterly divided by the method of nut enjoyment. Each side is unwilling to give ground, neither truly listening to the other. The “One at a Timers” simply attack the spontaneity of the “All Togethers,” while the ATs deride the pretentious pickings of the OaaTs. Neither side is able to put aside their differences and see that the nation is truly hurting; we need bipartisan nut-snacking now more than ever. Joel McHale sums up the sad scene with the closing line “Who knew America would tear itself apart over a relatively minor difference of opinion?”

 

#3 Hellmann’s – Mayo Tackles Food Waste

This was a simple pun that was very effectively turned into brilliant physical humor. Hellmann’s bring former NFL linebacker Jerod Mayo in to physically assault multiple civilians who are being wasteful with food. The juxtaposition of his tackles, something we saw hundreds of times Sunday night, placed in everyday kitchens just cracked me up. Plus, food waste isn’t a topic that sees a lot of media attention. I could take or leave the Pete Davidson appearance, but this was the commercial that made me laugh the hardest!

 

#2 Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda – Land of Loud Flavors

YES BUD LIGHT, this is the absurdity I want! Cracking open a Seltzer Hard Soda (that product sounds truly gross, but the ad is good) shakes the very foundation of reality as leather-clad and tip-frosted scouts from Flavor Town emerge from the refrigerator. They swipe the cooler and our intrepid heroes leap into the chilly portal, finding themselves in a strange new world. It’s as if Guy Fieri has taken over the set of Shark Boy and Lava Girl, creating his own Flavor Town Autonomous Zone. As both the heroes and the audience explore this strange new world, they find themselves in the lair of the Mayor of Flavor Town himself. An ominous choir can be heard as Guy once more rattles the tethers of Ethereum by cracking open his newfound Seltzer Hard Soda (again, no thanks).

Fieri then announces to his demiplane that Bud Light Seltzer Hard Sodas are the loudest flavor ever. This joyous news, brought down from on high, is met with cheers, weeping, dancing, and instantaneous goatee growth. Before, suddenly, our heroes are once again within their own kitchen. Two of them seemingly do not know why their friend is whooping with excitement, implying the whole ordeal to be a Hard-Soda-induced fever dream. However, eagle-eyed viewers will note the medals of honor around each of their necks, sporting the goatee and sunglasses of the Mayor himself. This was not a dream. It was a commercial. For Bud Light Seltzer Hard Sodas. Which I will not be purchasing.

 

#1 Cheetos/Doritos – Push It

For the second year in a row, Cheetos has taken the top spot on my list. Their 2022 Super Bowl ad mixes absurdity, celebrity cameos, and actually good comedic writing. After a birdwatcher drops a bag of Flamin’ Hot Doritos and Cheetos, a curious sloth slowly climbs down to take a bite. He’s quickly joined by a white-tailed deer and a grizzly bear. The three lay down a simple beat before a fox (apparently voice by Charlie Puth) begins beatboxing. The water buffalo join in for a funky bassline and a crocodile comes ashore to release a Scarlet Tanager (apparently voiced by Megan Thee Stallion, despite the bird’s colorings clearly indicating it is a male) that serenades the scene.

It is at this time that I would like to point out the absolute absurdity of that mix of animals in one place. I will suspend my disbelief that the power of Flamin’ Hot can make them peacefully sing together instead of murder one another, but a three-toed sloth is almost exclusively found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Meanwhile, white-tailed deer and Scarlet Tangers are generally found in the United States, and grizzly bears are exclusive to North America.

This leads me to the only logical conclusion: this supposed birdwatcher is actually a spy that has snuck into a secret government lab of bioengineered animals, each bred and designed to not only speak and sing, but subsist off corn-based snacks.

Anyways, the interloper tries to get their snacks back, the sloth scampers up the tree uncharacteristically quickly, and the grizzly twerks at the very end, eat Cheetos.

 

What Didn’t Work (Objectively)

Toyota – The Joneses

Getting three celebrities together, all of whom share the surname Jones is cute. Having them drive your truck through terrain that changes more often than the Galarr Wild Area is fine. But adding a good joke with Nick Jonas showing up, only to instantly explain that his name is almost, but not Jones ruined this one for me.

 

GM – Dr. EV-il

I expect many will disagree with me here, but I did not enjoy GM’s Dr. Evil ad. It went on for too long with a messy script that really didn’t have anything interesting to say. I would have liked to have seen the broader implications of an evil automotive company or at the very least a bit more than Mike Myers touching his pinky to his lips.

 

Gillette – Gillette

This is the most boring Super Bowl ad I have ever seen. It is a standard ad I would expect to see on daytime TV. I’m not upset with the lack of celebrities or flashy stunts or anything of that sort, I’m just bored and disappointed.

 

Uber Eats – Uber Don’t Eats

I truly hate the Oh No song from TikTok. I don’t know its name and I do not care to learn it. It plays throughout this whole ad, instantly marking it as my least favorite of all the Super Bowl LVI commercials.

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