Super Bowl commercials we’ll remember after a game we’d like to forget

Kiosk’s Bay Area contingent could be forgiven for wanting to forget a Super Bowl that the 49ers coulda woulda (shoulda?) won. But we’d be remiss not to mention a few of the big ticket commercials that made us smile in ways the game sadly, by the end, did not. 

Just as the Niners did shine early with a trick play that resulted in a touchdown, we like our humor to confound expectations a little. 

Think Aubrey Plaza deadpanning her way through Mountain Dew’s Baja Blast spot. Show someone having a blast? Whatever. Show someone very much known for withering dry wit deadpanning that she’s “having a blast”? So much better. 

Same goes for Arnold Swartzenegger’s Like a good Neighbaaa spot for State Farm, the gag being that his accent mangles their “like a good neighbor…” tagline, while repeating it over, and over, and over. A smart way to lean into that distinctive brand asset, which is so ubiquitous they can play around with it and make it even stickier in the process. 

Did it resonate on game day? Depends who you ask. The New York Times has it on their “inoffensive but forgettable” list, but USA Today’s reader’s poll ranked it top among all ads.  

A movie star-driven spot The New York Times ranked a lot higher was Christopher Walken having his much-imitated cadence mimicked in a Talkin’ Like Walken spot for BMW. Who among us…. has not…. tried that… at some point? But as the ad reminded us, there’s only one Walken, one BMW and the rest? Mere imitations.

The BMW spot made USA Today’s top ten too, parking neatly at number seven. However, it drew the thumbs down from Yahoo Sports, demonstrating that so much of the Super Bowl ad debate is pretty subjective.

The imitation versus the real deal? That’s clear enough. But when doing the creative math to make sense of an ads marketing message, things sometimes get a little dicier. Uber Eats delivered no shortage of star power with their Worth Remembering spot, featuring celebrities forgetting things in order to remember Uber Eats. 

If Netflix is listening, we’d love a Posh and Becks sitcom building off their ad personas. But as the Times put it, “Maybe (Uber Eats) could have ordered a less labored premise?” USA Today readers loved it. But will they remember what it was for in the long run? Or does it just have to beat-out DoorDash’s convoluted competition spot, seemingly designed for the kind of freeze-framing viewer who’s just waiting for QR codes to pop up on screen. Some of us just want to get on with the game.

Anyway, much as we (OK, me) liked the aforementioned Aubrey Plaza, arguably the best use of celebrities has to be the ad one Twitter pundit claimed won the SuperBowl… Dunkin’s DunKings, with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Tom Brady, Jennifer Lopez, Fat Joes, and for the kids Jack Harlow. 

Your correspondent might’ve spent some time explaining Damon’s Good Will Hunting  “how about them… donuts” line to the aforementioned kids. But draped in Dunkin’s distinctive brand assets (i.e. some gaudy orange and pink tracksuits), Ben, Matt and Tom brought relevant hometown vibes to what the Boston brand’s press release cheekily calls the “Dunkin Cinematic Universe” (DCU). If we’ve been unceremoniously ejected from the red and gold world of Niners Super Bowl dreams, maybe we can go hang out in the pink and orange DCU for a while.