Super Bowl 50 Commercials: The Best and Worst From the Big Game - Rolling Stone
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Super Bowl 50 Commercials: The Best and Worst From the Big Game

From Dame Helen Mirren to that damn PuppyMonkeyBaby, these are the ads we loved – and the ones we hated, too


PuppyMonkeyBaby, Mountain Dew's terrifying Super Bowl creation.

Mountain Dew

Even a diehard Broncos fan would probably admit Super Bowl 50 was a snooze, with Denver's defense controlling Cam Newton – that's putting it mildly – and grinding out a win in the Big Game.

It was even a pretty staid night for Super Bowl commercials, at least until Peyton Manning promised to drink all the Budweisers in San Francisco (er, Santa Clara) during his postgame speech. Of course, a few Super spots did manage to make a Beyoncé-like splash – while others crumpled like Cam under pressure. Here are our picks for the best and worst from Super Bowl 50…the ads that either made us look up from the queso dip long enough to celebrate, or cry like Josh Norman.


Worst: Mountain Dew, ‘PuppyMonkeyBaby’

There's good weird, and there's bad weird – and this monstrosity definitely falls in the latter category. Meant to promote Mountain Dew's high(er)-octane Kickstart concoction, it featured an unholy abomination of a animal-human hybrid bred to seemingly repeat its name ad nauseam, and…uh, that's the whole spot. And even though we're giving this one the thumbs down, it did work: "PuppyMonkeyBaby" not only terrified Super Bowl viewers, but was a top trend on Twitter throughout the game. And in the ad world, any kind of reaction is a good one. Too bad we'll never be able to sleep again.

Budweiser, Super Bowl 50

Best: Budweiser, ‘Give a Damn’

This one made waves before the Big Game, but watching Helen Mirren lambast drunk drivers was even better on Super Bowl Sunday. Budweiser's "Give a Damn" spot not only delivered laughs, but its message held additional weight on one of the booziest nights of the year. Simple, funny and effective, it showed that you don't need extravagant special effects, dumb humor or sexual situations to make a memorable ad. You just need Dame Helen. Let's hope someone game a damn and drove Peyton Manning home from the postgame celebration.

Williamsburg super bowl

Worst: Colonial Williamsburg, ‘It Started Here’

It's apparent that this ad for Williamsburg (the colonial one, not the hipster mecca in Brooklyn) was attempting to cash in on the fervent patriotism that only the Super Bowl can foment. But surely there were better ways to do it than showing footage of a collapsing World Trade Center – in reverse. Americans watch the Super Bowl for plenty of reasons; being reminded of tragedies isn't really one of them. 

PayPal Super Bowl

Best: PayPal, ‘There’s a New Money in Town’

How do you make PayPal exciting? With a stylish, go-for-broke spot like this, the company's first foray into Super Bowl commercials. Soundtracked by the best beat Kanye West never produced and featuring dynamic text that advised the world's old money codgers that their time was up – we're sure they're quaking in their cash-stuffed boots – this one cut through the clutter and charged our clicking fingers…so much so that we just beasted our way through a series of Etsy transactions. 

Doritos Super Bowl

Worst: Doritos, ‘Ultrasound’

This ad was apparently the winner of Doritos' annual Super Bowl commercial contest, which begs the question: How bad was the one that came in second? A tired spot filled with tired tropes – the nagging wife, the dimwit husband – it featured a doofus dad-to-be using a bag of Doritos to delight his unborn child, then reached its nadir when an errant chip caused said child to come rocketing out of the womb. Hopefully he brought another bag for the episiotomy! Super Bowl

Best:, ‘Moving Day’

We're ashamed to admit that it took us until Super Bowl Sunday to realize that this ad was essentially a play on The Jeffersons – but when it finally clicked for us ("George Washington and Lil Wayne…George and Weezy…wait a minute!") we couldn't help but laugh. Throw in frequent pitchman Jeff Goldblum, a gospel choir and a rousing performance of the sitcom's classic theme song, and you've got a winner. Bonus points for offering definitive proof that beans do not, in fact, burn on the grill.

Shock Top Super Bowl 50

Worst: Shock Top, ‘Unfiltered Talk’

Pity poor T.J. Miller, the normally funny comedian tasked with trying to make a talking tap handle seem clever in this lame spot. We'd say we hated Shock Top's obnoxious, sunglasses-clad mascot more than anything else we saw on Super Bowl Sunday, but that would be doing a disservice to PuppyMonkeyBaby. Then again, least that mutant was memorable – the Shock Top orange slice just made us long for the days of the Budweiser frogs.

Heinz Super Bowl 50

Best of the Rest: Heinz’s Wiener Dogs, Seth and Amy’s Bud Light Party

Heinz's adorable wiener dog stampede was a hit on the Twittersphere for good reason, Christopher Walken's sock puppet Kia spot was delightfully silly and who didn't love seeing Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen team up for that star-packed Bud Light ad? 

Amazon Super Bowl 50

Worst of the Rest: Amazon’s Baldwin Bowl, Audi’s Bowie Spot

We almost created a separate category for the countless spots for dull CBS dramas sprinkled throughout the Big Game, instead, we'll just lump them in with these other ads that missed the mark. Amazon's biggest sin was making the least of Alec Baldwin (and Jason Schwartzman's) talents in their dull Echo commercial, while Audi's use of David Bowie's "Starman" had us feeling icky – even if the carmaker tried to spin the spot as a tribute to the icon. You can't fool us, dudes.

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