Welp, another Super Bowl is in the books, and we had much to say about that halftime show. Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, did, too. Indeed, it seemed like most everyone had lots and lots and lots to say about Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s performance.
But halftime is, by definition, just a small portion of what we watch during the Super Bowl. Indeed, it pales in comparison to what most people tune into the game to see: the commercials.
Well, some of us do enjoy watching the game, too, and really, the big Super Bowl ads aren’t quite the draw as they once were, given that so many of them are online well before the Big Game. Michael Hiltzik believes only one Super Bowl ad in history really mattered much, and that was Apple’s game-changing “1984” ad in, well, 1984. (And indeed, the company’s done fairly well for itself since then.)
This year’s crop of commercials didn’t tap into the cultural zeitgeist like “1984,” But we did see a callback to 1993—specifically to Groundhog Day. Jeep (ironically) revisited Bill Murray’s classic philosophical comedy, sending Murray (who’s notoriously reticent to do commercials) back to the movie in a Jeep Gladiator pickup. It makes Murray’s Punxsutawney purgatory ever so much more enjoyable, which may undercut the whole movie’s premise, but no matter: People loved it. USA Today’s Ad Meter—the unofficial-official tracker of the big game’s best and worst ads—found it to be the best one of the night, and several other pundits agreed.
“Smaht Pahk,” which featured a self-parking Hyundai and some outrageously thick Boston accents, landed at No. 2 for the night, according to the Ad Meter, while Google’s “Loretta” ad, wherein Google helps an elderly man with dementia remember the most special moments he had with his wife, finished third. (Slate points out that that sweet commercial is predicated on some seriously scary tech, though.) Doritos “The Cool Ranch” spot, featuring Lil Nax X and Sam Elliott in an old-West dance showdown, was fourth, while Rocket Mortgage’s “Comfortable” ad with a balding, skinny Jason Momoa finished fifth.
Folks weren’t quite as impressed with Snickers’ efforts to solve all the world’s problems by planting a gigantic candy bar in a hole: “#SnickersFixtheWorld” finished 25th, despite its topical resonance. Tom Brady’s bait-and-switch Hulu ad deflated on impact, landing in 42nd place. (Earlier in the week, the New England quarterback tweeted a cryptic pic that had many speculating he was going to retire. Turns out, it was just a teaser for the ad.) And Pop Tarts’ “Fixed the Pretzel” spot finished a dismal 61st, wedged between two poorly received presidential campaign commercials. Seems as though the Super Bowl—at least in terms of advertising—is no place for politics or Pop Tarts.
Not all Super Bowl ads aimed for the funny bone, though. New York Life’s “Love Takes Action” spot talked extensively about the different types of love we experience—focusing especially on what the Greeks called “agape” love. Relevant noted that the ad, and its breakdown of the four-letter word, forcibly reminded viewers of C.S. Lewis’ classic book “The Four Loves.”
Also, a game was played. And while this year’s Super Bowl’s ratings didn’t outstrip the 2015 game (which set an all-time record of 114.4 million viewers), it was watched by around 102 million—more than tuned in for last year’s event. And that notorious halftime show was actually watched by slightly more people than even the game was. To paraphrase Shakira, these stats don’t lie.
The Super Bowl is annually the most-watched television broadcast of the year. What’s second? The Oscars, of course, which is on tap for this Sunday. In preparation, the last movie awards of the season are being doled out in what many see as potential harbingers of Oscar glory to come. The BAFTAs (the British version of the Academy Awards) showered seven statuettes on the war drama 1917. The Writers’ Guild thought that the South Korean comedy/drama/thriller/satire Parasite was just the tops. And the Visual Effects Society was super-impressed with The Lion King, which … isn’t up for a Best Picture Oscar, but still. Awards are nice.
Meanwhile, it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that Joaquin Phoenix will be waltzing away with an Oscar for his terrifying titular turn in Joker. Phoenix has been using his awards-season platform to talk about a whole bunch of stuff, though—from calling out the entire film industry for “systematic racism” during his BAFTA speech to joining Jennifer Aniston and Laura Dern in “recycling” his awards-season attire. (For the rest of us, that really means just wearing stuff again, in just a slightly altered form.) He was also instrumental in getting the Golden Globes to go vegan. Phoenix has been so active this season, in fact, that Slate asks bluntly, “How nervous should the Oscars be about a Joaquin Phoenix acceptance speech?”
Well. The Super Bowl and the Oscars do take up a lot of attention, don’t they? There’s more we could talk about, from seeing how the launch of the video service Byte went (not well, some say), to Billie Eilish’s after-Grammys sales spike, to some sad news from actress Shannen Doherty and radio icon Rush Limbaugh.
But since the theme of the day seems to be doling out awards for being the “best” of something, be it football or commercials or digital fur, let’s point a finger to Leo Kelly, a 6-year-old who is on a quest to rate, on Instagram, every single Shirley Temple (non-alcoholic, of course) he drinks. Once he determined his new life goal, his Insta followers insta-ntly ballooned from 300 to 170,000 and counting.
Imagine what those numbers would be if he rated movies.