This year’s advertising Super Bowl had, again, lots of celebrities and lots of dogs. It also had many ads featuring dogs, amirite? The recent trend toward sincerity continued with spots about environmentally responsible beer making and female empowerment in sports and in dating. Robots were plentiful enough to form an army, but please don’t. And tech giants Amazon and Google kept battling for the small pieces of our mind share they cannot already access.
Here are our rankings of the best, the worst, and the vast middle of the pack among the 2019 Super Bowl commercials:
M&M’s, “Bad Passengers.” A-
The Mars hard-shelled candy brand has had a pretty good run with its ads featuring anthropomorphized spokesmorsels. This one continues the tradition. Christina Applegate, driving the SUV from the “mom” position, attempts to quiet squabblers in the back seat. Finally she’s had enough and dramatically pulls over, turning and announcing, “If you don’t stop, I will eat all of you alive right now!” The “kids,” who are, of course, the humanoid M&M’s, freeze, then one says, “I prefer the break-us-apart option.” It’s a tight, well-executed take on familiar scenes of parental frustration and embarrassing overreaction. Demerits for offering nothing but an image of and a tagline about the new product supposedly being introduced, an M&M’s chocolate candy bar.
Hyundai, “The Elevator.” A
A young couple is going car shopping via elevator (just go with it). Elevator operator Jason Bateman knows what that means: “You’re going down.” Down past root canal, down past jury duty, even below “the talk” and the vegan dinner party. But when they arrive at car shopping they announce they’re using Hyundai’s buyer protection program and get whisked up to a high floor. It’s funny from the “beet loaf” to “Captain Colon” in a hospital gown trying to sneak off up high, and it dramatizes the good the carmaker says its Shopper Assurance program achieves.
Olay, “Killer Skin.” B
While I wasn’t paying attention to skin care products — that is to say, at some moment during the last 30-plus years -- they took the Oil out of Oil of Olay. But that’s not the point here. The point is that Sarah Michelle Gellar, in a horror-movie scenario, can’t call the cops on a home intruder. Because her phone doesn’t recognize her face to unlock itself. Because she’s been using Olay. Props to the venerable face cream for being so tech-forward, but this is more a competent execution of this idea than an inspired one.
Planters, “Crunch Time.” C
Big Peanut is in the game for the first time since 2008. You can tell because the two celebrities it’s hired are of about that vintage. Mr. Peanut drives the Nutmobile recklessly through city streets. Watching from a bench, Charlie Sheen says, “People think I’m nuts,” flattering himself with the notion that people think about him. Mr. Peanut is on his way to a sports watching event in a living room, where he slides nuts down the table to bump chips out of the way of snacker Alex Rodriguez. Those won’t be the first pill-shaped things Rodriguez has ingested to boost his earning power. Tired famous people and a stock chase-scene scenario do not a wired advertisement make.
Pringles, “Sad Device.” A-
I’d rather have nuts than these ersatz potato chips any day. But in terms of second-quarter ad quality, Pringles has it all over Planters. The pressed, shaped and flavor-dusted potato-fragments brand plays with the interesting concept of stacking, merging several flavors together to create something new (confession: I do this with salad-bar soup sometimes and have been hunting for a name for it). But where the ad really shines is in making fun of the always-on home assistants you’ll see presented sincerely in other SB ads. The sad device of the title answers a question about the number of flavor combos that are possible, then laments its status: “I’ll never know the joy of tasting any, for I have no hands to stack with.” As it is about to bemoan God’s role in this, its owner commands, “Play Funkytown.” This is fun and breezy and on-snack-message for Super Bowl watchers, but there are whispers of sharp social commentary in there, too.
Skechers, “Easy Life.” B+
“I like to make my life easy,” says play-predicting savant NFL announcer and retired QB Tony Romo. So he has a robot vacuum. He has a tennis-ball machine to play fetch with his dog. The golf hole he putts toward is the size of a kiddie swimming pool. And the shoes he wears, Skechers Slip-ons, don’t even require lacing. Some people call this surrender, an accompaniment to sweatpants all the time and midnight Ben & Jerry’s. But Romo and the shoe brand pitch it as cleverness.
Colgate Total, “Close Talker.” B+
Fans of the ’90s will appreciate this homage to a “Seinfeld” concept, the person who stands way too near you in conversation. It makes sense as a way to sell mouth-care products, and actor Luke Wilson is, of course, nimble in the title role. The one problem in the series of drily amusing workplace scenarios? Unlike Wilson, who uses Total to manage his quirk, real close talkers don’t know they’re close talkers. They just get up in your face, minty fresh or not.
Amazon, “Not Everything Makes the Cut.” C+
Alexa, get me a new ad agency. The concept here is OK: Amazon’s not-at-all-creepy, always-on digital assistant is going into a lot of devices these days -- but not every idea works. It’s the dramatization of the reject pile that falls flat. Forest Whitaker does some business with an Alexa-enabled toothbrush, and Harrison Ford is forced to play against a dog wearing an Alexa collar that understands dog language. And then there’s the muddled scenario where a city’s lights blink on and off, apparently due to overheard concert lyrics? In that one the first lights-out shot is a Chicago River cityscape. So we were good enough to illustrate urban beauty, Amazon, but not to host an HQ2? Add this long, costly spot to the list of Alexa fails.
Bubly, “Can I Have a Buble?” A-
Whenever I’ve seen this newish sparkling water on store shelves, I’ve thought of the contemporary crooner, Michael Buble. Ditto, it turns out, for the company’s ad agency. They enlisted Buble in a convenience-store scene that finds him desperately insisting customers should pronounce the product like his last name, “Boo-blay.” It’s a fairly basic idea, but there’s not a wasted moment in the telling, from the girl asking, “Can I have an autograph, Mr. ‘bubbly’?” to the ending of the singer writing his name on all the cans in Sharpie. Bonus: Now I know, from reading about this ad, that Bubly is a Pepsi product.
Microsoft, “We All Win.” B+
There’s nothing not to like in this heart-tugging look at differently abled boys and girls fitting in with peers via video games and fitting into video games via the adaptive controller for MS Xbox, which looks to rely on circular pads more than levers and buttons. “I love video games, my friends, my family, and again video games,” says one of the kids. Yep, fits right in. Note: I watched the 105-second version, not the 60-second one slated to air during the game.
Bumble, “The Ball Is in Her Court.” B+
This app ad employs Serena Williams to deliver its message of female empowerment. Solid choice there. And the ad is smartly constructed, equating Williams’ choice to take up a tennis racket with the general idea of women making “the first move in work, in love, in life.” It’s a good sign for the spot that I knew only generally what Bumble was before seeing it, but I was able to suss out that it’s a dating app where women make the first move.
WeatherTech, “PetComfort products.” B-
The floor mat maker in suburban Chicago (Bolingbrook) has become a Super Bowl regular, delivering a series of unapologetically basic ads that push its message of made-in-America car-floor protection. This year it’s got new products to tout, the PetComfort line of feeding bowls, and it gets a little crazy in the advertising. There’s a willful dog pushing an elevator button to go check out the new bowls, touted as non-toxic. I’m not sure there’s a huge market of people who think their current dog bowls are poisonous, and I know I had to use another advertiser, Google, to find what “certified by the NSF” means (National Sanitation Foundation). But, yeah, it’s another WeatherTech effort giving the cold shoulder to notions of fancy advertising. This outfit wants to move product.
Mercedes-Benz, “Say the Word.” B+
A rock solid effort from the German carmaker, which wants buyers of its new “budget” A-Class line (starting at $32,500, ahem) to know that the vehicles contain an Alexa-like personal assistant that can change dashboard light colors, start the music, etc. So a bearded dude from the target market walks around ordering things to be the way he wants them: Find the lost cat, tear up the parking ticket, make the putt, Rickie Fowler (a golfer also in the demo). When he says, “Change the music,” an opera singer turns into Ludacris, rapping. Lassie, Wile E. Coyote and the “Free Willy” killer whale also make appearances. There’s a lot going on, like in 60-second auto ads of previous years, but here it all funnels straight to the tagline: “If only everything in life listened to you like your new A-Class.”
Avocados from Mexico, “Top Dog.” C+
The fruit-or-maybe-it’s-a-vegetable consortium has been a reliable source of Super Bowl ads that are more about being amusing than pushing guacamole. Here, though, the filmmaking doesn’t quite work. You can figure out that it’s a dog show setting where the humans are the ones being judged, and there’s a chuckle or two once you’ve solved the puzzle. But getting there is more work than finding a not-too-ripe avocado at the supermarket. And Kristin Chenoweth (in metallic makeup for some reason) is wasted as a judge, certainly no Fred Willard (“Best in Show” reference). It’s enough to make you dip in salsa instead.
Toyota, “Toni.” B-
Another entrant in the sincerity bowl, this one touts the achievements of female football player Antoinette Harris, the first non-kicker to be offered a college scholarship. It sends a solid message of refusing to accept limitations, and I’m happy she’s earning a paycheck for her achievement. But the pivot to the commercial is always the tricky part in these heartwarming ads, as Stephen Colbert pointed out in his brilliant game-week parody of feel-good Super Bowl ads. Toyota undercuts all the good feeling it’s built up by, at the end, pointing out that the new RAV4 will also “shatter perceptions.” So: RAV4, the feminist SUV?
Dorito’s, “Now It’s Hot.” A-
Chance the Rapper rhyming about the Flamin’ Hot Nacho Cheese Dorito’s might cost him a little street cred: Excitement over a new chip flavor isn’t entirely in sync with his social justice message. Ditto for his teaming up to dance in an airplane hanger with 1990s heroes the Backstreet Boys to their hit “I Want It That Way.” But a steady throughline in hip-hop has been collaboration. And this team-up between a corn chip megabrand, the boy band and the contemporary Chicago rapper, positioned a little tongue-in-cheek as Chance’s fantasy about what’s “hot,” is done with high spirits and a winning, light touch. It’s starpower feat. flavor and fun.
Expensify, “Expensify This.” B-
2Chainz is making a music video, complete with tricked out car and a seafood tower on the hood. Record-company finance guy Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) knocks on his window mid-shoot, says he needs paper receipts for all of it “if you want to get reimbursed.” But no, the rapper replies. He’s got the Expensify expense reporting app. Nothing exciting here, but it gets the message across. Also, I would like my company’s finance department to watch because our current expense system, instead of being workable from a cell phone in the front of a sports car, is the kind of software it takes days to psych yourself up even to open on a desktop.
Pepsi, “More Than OK.” A-
This one gets points for wise celebrity use and, especially, for looking archrival Coke’s advantage over Pepsi straight in the eyes, like No. 2 Avis used to do with No. 1 Hertz. It’s a riff on people habitually ordering “Coke” in restaurants and waiters habitually responding, “Is Pepsi OK?” Steve Carell overhears this and goes into sorta-not-mock outrage mode: “OK!?” he asks. “Are puppies OK? Is a shooting star OK?” Rapper Lil John at the counter delivers his “Okayyyy” catchphrase. Cardi B saunters dramatically in and grabs a Pepsi can. And Carell fails in his own try at “Okayyyy.”
Stella Artois, “Change Up the Usual.” C+
When actors turn their iconic roles into product hawkers it’s almost never a good look. Movie and TV fans don’t deserve to see favorite characters sold out. That said, there’s cleverness in bringing in Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges, who both played roles identified with specific drink orders, and in having them order Stellas to get across the try-something-new idea. But Parker/Carrie Bradshaw eschewing a cosmopolitan as “Sex and the City” theme notes play and Bridges/The Dude turning down a white Russian is highly on the nose. And when Bridges, at least in the 45-second cut of the ad I watched, says “the dude abides,” it crosses over into cringeworthy. “The Big Lebowski” has become many things over the years; a marketing opportunity for a middling Euro-beer should not be one of them. And a side note: Why does she get a draft and he a bottle?
Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, “The Pure Experience.” B+
Autonomous sensory meridian response is a big concept for a light beer to embrace. It’s a sort of bodily tingling that’s thought to be caused by certain stimuli, one of which is whispering. So Zoe Kravitz here soft-talks her way through the whole ad, first in the right speaker, then the left, with a message about the beer being pure and organic. Surprisingly, it works. The message is ordinary, but the method of delivery kept me on the edge of my couch cushion.
Michelob Ultra, “Robots.” B
Along with craft beer, the superlight Mich Ultra has been the great growth story in beer in recent years. The appeal is right there on the bottle: “2.6 carbs, 95 cals.” And it’s a young, athletic crowd that seems to be drinking it. So it’s a bold step for this brew to characterize as “robots,” people who work out really obsessively; the last shot is of the ad’s madly exercising robot peering through a window at people at a bar digging their post-workout Mich Ultras. “It’s only worth it if you can enjoy it,” is the tagline to what seems like a very deft ad. Just don’t think too hard about the logic, because to most of the beer-drinking world, Michelob Ultra is in itself a form of self-denial.
Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, “The Pitch.” B
Bonnie and Vivian, the putative “makers” of this low-cal cocktail product from Anheuser-Busch InBev, play mermaids explaining, underwater, that alcohol and fruit-flavored sparkling water, with no sugar grams, sounds too good to be true, but “the myth is real.” Suddenly, they turn to nearby predators and this standard commercial pitch is revealed as a “Shark Tank” homage. “I’m in,” says one great white. “I’ll double down.” It’s a small bit wacky and a large bit effective.
Budweiser, “Wind Never Felt Better.” B-
A dalmatian. Clydesdales. Amber waves of grain. Bob Dylan, singing about blowing wind. Budweiser trots out all the icons as the horse and dogs are revealed to be traveling through a wind farm. It’s meant to underscore the giant beer’s committment to sustainable energy, but the message is about as clear as a hazy IPA, a type of beer Bud decidedly is not. “Now Brewed with Wind Power,” says the large type in the ad. “Renewable electricity from wind power is one type of energy we use to brew,” says the small, which you can read if you freeze the screen.
Audi, “Cashew.” C+
Ads that rely on shock humor need to actually be funny and also to make sense. This one falls short of both duties. The dreamy sequence we see involving a guy’s grandpa taking the cover off a sleek new Audi electric vehicle to present it to him is actually -- surprise! -- his pre-death thoughts as he almost chokes on a cashew at his cubicle. But why would grandpa have an E-car? Why is almost dying in the most mundane way funny? You could argue that, between the lines, Audi is saying: Buy this cool new car before it’s too late to enjoy anything. But I’ve gotta believe there are better ways to say that than a beneficent relative fantasy and a nut blocking a windpipe. Also: a fellow working in that particular cubicle farm, from the small-time looks of it, would probably be stretching to get leather in his Camry, never mind a brand new E-Audi. Heck, I’m surprised he was snacking on cashews.
Sprint, “Best of Both Worlds.” B-
The wireless carrier wants people to know it offers the “best of both worlds,” meaning price and performance. So spokesguy, sitting around with robots for some reason, asks their advice. ‘Bring in two-sport legend Bo Jackson’ is the first thought, but then the robot keeps going with wishes and Jackson is stuck holding a mermaid holding a “keytar” as a flying horse hovers. Bo, sensibly, suggests just telling folks how much they can save. “This is the best robot analogy I’ve ever been in,” Jackson says. It is that, I suppose, if you figure they are stand-ins for putting advertising types in the spot. This one’s a little scattershot, but it’s at least lively and does not overstay its welcome.
Devour, “Food Porn.” C
The Kraft Heinz frozen food brand earned some publicity for reportedly not being allowed to talk about food “porn” in the ad. The spot subtracts that word but goes ahead with the innuendo-heavy concept, which proposes a woman’s boyfriend has become a “three-minute man,” addicted to either the brand’s microwave mac-and-cheese or to food video generally. The story is unclear. So when she says she tried to spice things up and “now we’re addicted to amateur food video,” it elicits confusion more than a chuckle over nimble double entendre. The good news is there’s still an opportunity for some ad agency to pull off the challenging combination of sex and microwave meals.
Wix.com, Karlie Kloss ad. C
Karlie Kloss, I am told, is the supermodel known for coding. She’s also the new co-host of “Project Runway” and the new sister-in-law of White House advisor Jared Kushner. All of these things are very interesing. This ad for the build-your-own-website service, made in house and looking it, is not. Kloss sits at a desk and tells viewers some basics about how Wix works. Also, we learn, she loves it. It’s so pro forma that you wonder: Why bother putting it in the Super Bowl, where ads reportedly cost more than $5 million for 30 seconds? Maybe the company figures generic will cut through the clutter in its own, not-so-special way.
Norwegian Cruise Line, “Good to Be Free.” C
Another generic spot that makes you ask: Why? But it’s got one important revelation. They have bumper cars on cruise ships now. I don’t know exactly what to do with this information, except perhaps to pine for the good old days when you played shuffleboard with your parents and you liked it.
Mint Mobile, “Chunky Style Milk.” B
Simple but on point, the upstart telecom (I’ve never heard of it till now) touts its $20 per month wireless by saying your current cellular bill just isn’t right. Like “chunky style milk.” The out-of-left, gross-out comparison works because the family morning breakfast scenario featuring the lumpy liquid plays it perfectly deadpan. Generic commercial mom says she likes it “because it has the wholesome chunks growing kids need, unlike smooth style milk.” It’s funny in the manner of an old “SNL” ad, outrageous and ordinary at once. And then the commercial jumps back to Mint’s commercial message before your stomach can turn too many times.
Turkish Airlines, “The Journey.” B-
I guess the message you’re supposed to take away from this is that Turkey is beautiful, exotic and a little disorienting. Film star Sylvia Hoeks is luminous, and the line “A Film by Ridley Scott” intrigues. But all this is a 30-second teaser for a 6-minute Scott film about Turkey you’re invited to go see online. On the one hand, I want to go check it out. On the other hand, a Super Bowl ad should be able to function on its own.
Bud Light, “Special Delivery.” A
Continuing its medieval theme, Bud Light delivers what may be its best spot yet, a full-frontal assault on light-beer rivals for their choice of ingredients in this eminently simple beverage. A barrel of corn syrup shows up at the Bud Light castle/ brewery, a place that may be more advertiser’s invention than historical fact. “That’s not ours. We don’t use corn syrup,” the monarch of lower calorie Budweiser says. Miller Lite does, says a woman. And so the epic journey to correct the delivery mistake begins. At Miller Lite brewcastle, the travelers learn Lite already had its delivery. “Try the Coors Light castle. They also use corn syrup,” the guy says. So: onward to, of course, the mountains. Coors light guy is happy to see the barrel, then announces, “To be clear, we brew Coors Light with corn syrup.” Positing a world with inter-light-beer cooperation is funny, and it’s even funnier to subvert that with the central digit extended toward the competition the commercial is actually delivering.
SimpliSafe, “Fear is Everywhere.” B+
The hot action in tech these days is in smart homes, from digitally controlled colored light bulbs (meh) to DIY home-security systems. To get its message of home security across, SimpliSafe shows a guy besieged by warnings about the outside world, from porch pirates to things you shouldn’t eat to the dangers of your garage door. Somebody watches too much TV news, in other words. But the change of tone when you enter the guy’s house, protected by SimpliSafe products, gets the message across.
Pay TV series, “Handmaid’s Tale” and “Game of Thrones.” A
I don’t usually cover TV and movie ads in this roundup, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu and especially “Game of Thrones” on HBO killed it with misdirection ads. First, scenes from the Hulu series about a dystopia where women are stripped of their personhood came as a jolt after an ad beginning by talking about things being rosy in America for women. Even better, the “GoT” spot began with what was, for all intents and purposes, a Bud Light ad, “Dilly Dilly” catchphrase and all. But the Bud Knight got knocked off his horse in a joust -- and suddenly it was darkness and chaos, and a dragon breathed heavy overhead, seemingly wiping out the entire ad scenario. Both of these were so effective because they started with standard Super Bowl commercial tropes, HBO going so far as to enlist the cooperation of Bud Light.
T-Mobile, “We’ll Keep This Brief.” B+
In the first of a series of ads about texting and unlimited data plans, the pink-themed service carrier is sharp. This one starts with a friend asking another how’s it going, and then there’s a wait, and then comes one of those epic return texts you just don’t know how to deal with. The clue is right at the start, with the phrase, “Well, I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about my ‘journey.’” This is keenly observed, and T-Mobile punctuates it by promising, for its own part, to be brief.
Google, “100 Billion Words.” B+
The company that knows way too much about us plays against that image with a feel-good message rooted in its Google Translate service. More than 100 billion words get translated daily, the spot says, and they are on every topic imaginable. But you know what is most translated? Yep, “‘How are you,’ ‘thank you’ and I love you.’” Awwww. Now can I please have my privacy back?
Persil, “Deep Clean Level.” C
The laundry detergent company delivers a standard consumer-product ad that’s almost as exciting as a virtually scoreless first half. Its most notable feature is that, like the very good Hyundai ad above, it begins with an elevator operator. One more, and it’s a trend.
T-Mobile, “What’s For Dinner?” A-
Spot on, once again. In this one, a girlfriend asks her boyfriend where he wants to go for dinner. We see all his responses as he types then deletes them, from exasperated to aggrieved to kind of snotty. Finally, he settles, wisely, on “Whatever you want, bae.” And she responds “Sushi,” just as he predicted she would in the first deleted text. Even better than the first one.
Turbo Tax, “RoboChild.” B
The do-it-at-home tax assistant really wants us to know that it has actual humans ready to help people using its software. So it concocts a kinda-funny, kinda-creepy “robo-child,” who really wants to be a Turbo Tax CPA helper when he grows up. Sorry, the humans explain. That’s for people. In reaction the machine kid gets the emotions all wrong. The Turbo Tax message is clear and so is the one about not really trusting the robots. Roomba, stop it!
NFL, “The 100 Year Game.” B
Convened for a 100th anniversary dinner, some of the NFL’s all-time greats are ready for a banquet dinner. Then the ball gets knocked off the cake, Chicago Bears legend Mike Singletary yells “Fumble!” and all heck breaks loose. There’s tackling, there’s throwing and catching, there are tables busted in two. And audience members get to play along, trying to recognize people usually depicted in helmets. This makes the NFL seem like a lot of fun, men playing a kids game. At this troubled moment in its history, it’s an image the league is wise to try to promote.
Kia Telluride, “Give It Everything.” B-
“Where can I get the ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ SUV?” somebody tweeted in response to this ad. That about sums it up. A kid with a thick Southern accent stares into the camera talking about his “small Georgia town of complete unknowns.” And as veteran Super Bowl ad viewers, you get the sense that you are heading toward Eminem and Clint Eastwood and car-company manifesto territory. We learn that this town got a plant that is building the new Kia Telluride, which looks to be a big SUV. “We hope to be known for what we do, what we build,” the kid says. Maybe the town will even use some of the new money to build a road so that such a nice shiny vehicle won’t have to keep driving through the river like that.
T-Mobile, “We’re Here For You.” B
In this amusing one, the texter says “I’m here for you,” and the phone owner responds with heartfelt thanks because he’s been having a tough time. Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” is the backdrop music. The first texter turns out to be — his Lyft driver. And it looks like T-Mobile is giving away free Lyft rides on Tuesday.
Verizon, “The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here.” C+
For the second straight year, Verizon uses its ad buy to salute first responders, in this case the ones who helped Chargers coach Anthony Lynn after a terrible car wreck. There’s a fine, touching story here, and what seem like real emotions as Lynn is reunited with some of the first responders who helped him. I’m not sure, though, why it’s Verizon’s place to tell this story. With the Microsoft heart-tugging ad that aired afterward, it ties in to a special video-game controller the company makes. Verizon doesn’t even seem to be saying its equipment was important in this rescue. In a later ad, we at least learn Verizon commits to the concept, producing a series of 12 such stories you can watch online, if having your heartstrings tugged by a phone company is your thing.
Google, “Job Search for Veterans.” B
This well-made spot begins with close-ups of numbers on forms. Folks in the military, “the 7 percent that keep the rest of us safe,” know what those are, the narrator explains. And Google can help them find their next jobs, which is a nice thought but maybe the people trying to keep highly trained people from quitting the military don’t like it so much?
Bud Light, “Trojan Horse Occupants.” B+
In more digs at Lite’s use of corn syrup, Bud Light gives us first medieval barbers, then guys in a Trojan horse. They’re quick, one-joke scenarios, but the jokes are good — especially the barbers’ bowls — and they hammer home the point about what the rival puts in its beer.
Burger King, “#EatLikeAndy.” A-
Yes, that really was Andy Warhol unwrapping a Whopper and trying to put ketchup on it. You can’t really complain about Warhol, long dead, being co-opted for commercial purposes, like you might for other artists or, indeed, for beloved cult films. Warhol, after all, made his whole career about embracing and playing with consumerism, and you can still buy Warhol-branded tchotchkes galore in museum gift shops. And give Burger King credit for finding this footage, reportedly filmed in 1982 for the film “66 Scenes from America.” I’m sure Heinz ketchup is grateful, too, given how prominently its bottle is featured.
T-Mobile, “Dad?!” B-
In this end of the series, dad, we learn, is texting a request for lasagna recipes to his kid, who has to break it to him that this isn’t Google. It’s a little hard on the olds, but, yeah, sure, there probably are dads who don’t quite grasp the whole internet concept. There are also probably just as many dads who would mess around with their kid by pretending to be clueless in this way. Viewed through that lens, the ad is even funnier.
Washington Post, “Democracy Dies in the Darkness.” B+
The press takes for granted that people understand what it does, how it does it and why it’s important. And this neglect of the PR side of things can lead to an awful lot of people misbelieving an awful lot of things about conscientious news organizations. This expensive gambit by Jeff Bezos’ newspaper uses Tom Hanks (who played legendary Post editor Ben Bradlee in “The Post”) as narrator. His message is of journalistic sacrifice -- we cover important stories “no matter the cost” -- and the importance of making it. “Knowing helps us decide, knowing keeps us free,” Hanks intones, as the video shows the Statue of Liberty. It’s not the lightest touch, and the ad doesn’t get into the how-we-do-it part of things. But as The New York Times did in the game last year, it’s nice to have somebody standing up for us.