The New York Giants didn’t play the Super Bowl, but they managed to win it anyway with some “Dirty Dancing” by Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
In an ad for the National Football League, Manning and Beckham Jr. turn a football practice into an impromptu dance session. They tap their inner Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze as they reenact the “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” dance session from the classic from 1987 film. Beckham Jr. fills in for Gray’s character, Baby, and Manning hoists the burly wide receiver over his head.
It’s arguably one of the funniest commercials in a Super Bowl where levity was a main theme. It was also the most expensive Super Bowl ever for advertisers, who paid on average more than $5 million for 30-second spots. So they wanted to get it right, and this year the advertisers were a bunch of comedians.
And it’s about time we had some humor, says Todd Grossman, CEO of Americas for Talkwalker, an analytics company that focuses on branding and social media.
“While Super Bowl ads tend to veer toward light-hearted humor, recent years saw politically charged ads and heavy topics,” he said. “Most of this football season was spent debating the Black Lives Matter kneeling protest and by the time the Super Bowl rolled around this year, frankly, I think viewers just needed a break from politics.”
While “Dirty Dancing” tops our list, another celebrity duo had fans laughing with an unlikely rap-off.
Doritos and Mountain Dew won with a spot featuring Peter Dinklage lip synching a rapid-fire Busta Rhymes’ rap while he makes his way through a burning room. For “Games of Thrones” fans used to hearing his caustic wit delivered in a high-born, Lannister accent with a snobby lilt, seeing Dinklage rap is hilariously unexpected.
He spits fire, and then fire meets ice, as Morgan Freeman makes a frostbitten entrance into the minute-long spot with his ultra cold Mountain Dew Ice. But his voice isn’t Freeman’s recognizable baritone; he’s singing with the voice of Missy Elliott, who also makes a cameo, dressed up like some sort of green-lipped ice queen.
“Stranger Things” star David Harbour also managed to shake things up and make people laugh with multiple ads for Tide, a concept that in-and-of-itself seems unexpected.
“It’s a Tide ad,” said Harbour, stating the not-so-obvious time and time again as he crashed multiple different Super Bowl spots — driving a car, dropping beer in a bar, grooving at a soda party on the beach. His clothes were immaculate, appearing sometimes in a white suit, jarring his Netflix fans. They’re used to seeing him as the scruffy, disheveled and chain-smoking Police Chief Hopper, not jauntily hitching a ride on the back of a white horse.
“Tide seems to have won over the internet with its ad featuring David Harbour from ‘Stranger Things,'” said Grossman. He said the Tide ads were the most talked-about on Twitter and Facebook, followed by Doritos and the NFL “Dirty Dancing” ad.
Super Bowl viewers also got a comical jolt when the Amazon’s voice for Alexa was replaced by an expletive-bleeped tirade from Gordon Ramsey, an irreverent rant from Cardi B, a raunchy come-hither from Rebel Wilson in a bubble bath, and an unsettlingly smooth Anthony Hopkins channeling Hannibal Lecter.
Beer ads often rely on humor during the Super Bowl, and Bud Light’s carried on that tradition. The beer maker’s Super Bowl spot was set in a Medieval battle field where the Bud Light knight, clad in armor that looks like those familiar blue cans, arrived to save the day.
That is, until he abandons the battle to pick up an 18-pack at a nearby convenience story.
A wounded peasant uttered the catchphrase that’s become familiar to Bud fans: “Dilly dilly!”
“This year, if you’re going to make a statement, I think comedy is the best way to do it,” said Brian Sheehan, a professor and Super Bowl ad expert at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. “Taking it seriously is just depressing to the American public.”