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Super Bowl 2018 Ads: The Best, Worst and WTF Commercials

Rating the most inspired (Alexa’s Cardi B-powered ad, the NFL’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ tribute) and insipid (Hyundai’s “hope detector”) spots from big game

From the inventive to the viral to the inane, the commercials that accompanied the Philadelphia Eagles’ historic win against the New England Patriots at Super Bowl 52 were as up and down as the game itself. With the eyes of the world watching, some brands rose to the occasion while others fumbled. Here’s our 2018 rundown of the best, worst and weirdest ads. 

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Best: Alexa, What was the most fun ad of the night?

Not only does Amazon.com dominate most people’s lives (where else can you order toothpaste and watch an Emmy-winning series?), the company also dominated the Super Bowl with one of the best spots of the night. Featuring an inspired array of celebrities, their fruitful idea of what would happen if Alexa called in sick was explored to deft comedic effect and boasted everyone from Cardi B to Gordon Ramsay. It really is Amazon’s world now, and we’re just living in it. 

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Worst: Hyundai’s head scratcher

In a questionable ploy to sell cars using cancer-stricken kids, Hyundai missed the mark with this spot. In footage apparently shot over the weekend, the commercial captured folks heading into the brand’s “NFL Super Bowl Experience” and passing through something called a “hope detector” – which identified Hyundai drivers via their car keys. The whole schmaltzy affair was meant to highlight their Hyundai Hope on Wheels fund, which raises money for pediatric cancer. Couldn’t Hyundai have given the millions spent on this minute-long ad to said cancer fund instead? 

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Best: Toyota actually brings people together

Like Hyundai, Toyota opted for an emotional, socially conscious piece, and fared better than their competitor. Their commercial hit on the right mix of funny, uplifting and straightforward – showcasing representatives of the world’s major religions who are all en route to a football game… for some reason. 

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WTF: Tide’s huge big game push

It’s safe to say that going meta was the theme of the year – exemplified by Tide’s ironic, winky campaign centered on commercials themselves. Anchored by Stranger Things star David Harbour and featuring the Old Spice dude and the Most Interesting Man in the World, it briefly made viewers forget about that confusing Tide-Pod-eating trend.

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Best: Mountain Dew and Doritos’ tag-teaming

You can’t go wrong when you bring together beloved actors Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage, iconic bars from Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott’s biggest hits and lip syncing into one seriously captivating, funny spot. 

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Worst: Febreze’s ad stinks

We’re sure Febreze’s marketing executives were absolutely cracking up thinking of this juvenile ad, in which the phrase “bleep don’t stink” is said so often it’s clear that they are trying to coin a new pop culture catchphrase. Unfortunately, simply repeating a dumb phrase ad nauseam doesn’t make it funny. 

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WTF: The Voice’s country fever dream

NBC’s delirious spot for their musical reality competition series featured this season’s coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson Alicia Keys and Adam Levine poking fun at country music cliches. For a show aimed at finding the industry’s next great talent across all genres, the country theme felt oddly specific. Kudos to the show for not going stale – in their promos, at least – as it gears up for its 14th season. 

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Best: Pepsi’s sugary walk down memory lane

In another commercial that was about commercials, Pepsi recruited Jimmy Fallon to take viewers on a trip through cola history. Cue: vintage clips of Pepsi’s storied ad past, from Cindy Crawford’s iconic spot to Michael Jackson. Cheers to a perfect mix of fun and nostalgia. 

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Worst: Diet Coke’s weird ‘dance’

The challenge with delivering a simple, not-extravagant Super ad: it has to be clever and perfectly executed. Diet Coke’s pared-down spot, which featured Australian actress Hayley Magnus dancing, ad-libbing and goofing off in front of a giant yellow wall, fell flat. Paul Feig (the comedy director behind hits like Bridesmaids) was behind the camera – making it feel like an even bigger missed opportunity. 

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WTF: A voyage down under with Hemsworth and McBride

Starring Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth, the minute-long spot looks like a fun reboot of Crocodile Dundee, but is instead an elaborate ad for Australian tourism. The fact that it is indeed a commercial is mentioned multiple times, making for yet another meta ad addition for 2018.

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Best: Nobody puts the NFL in a corner

Whether or not the league needed another promo opp on its biggest day of the year, marquee names Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr teamed up for a brilliant salute to Dirty Dancing. In a year full of negative headlines for the NFL, from the National Anthem controversy to CTE, they played it safe and fun with this adorable “Time of My Life” tribute. 

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