Fresno Beehive

Fresno Beehive rates the best (and worst) Super Bowl commercials

Many are divided about whether this oddly sensual Mr. Clean commercial worked.
Many are divided about whether this oddly sensual Mr. Clean commercial worked. Mr. Clean/Fox

The millions tuned in to Super Bowl LI Sunday night saw the New England Patriots complete the biggest comeback in the championship’s history and Lady Gaga pull off an amazing halftime show. But for many huddled around their big screens with fingers covered in cheese and guac, the big game represents a chance to see the very best in something we typically despise: Commercials.

I have to say that this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was pretty forgettable. Had I not kept a detailed social media account, I would have forgotten 99 percent of them. But in consulting with my fellow hivers, we were able to reach a consensus (for the most part) on some of the best and worst commercials in 2017.

The Best

84 Lumber

In recent years, the most memorable Super Bowl ads have typically been funny. But given the last 12 months, it’s fitting the commercial generating the most buzz took on a somber, fiercely political tone.

What we saw on TV was a woman and her daughter journeying across Mexico with virtually no product placement. The ad continued online, showing the family’s emotional realization of a giant concrete wall along the U.S./Mexico border. However, a wooden gate (presumably built by first-time Super Bowl advertiser 84 Lumber) allows them entrance. This conclusion was apparently rejected by Fox, which broadcast the Super Bowl.

It was the favorite ad of my desk neighbor, Carmen “Heart in the Super Bowl” George, who said she cried when she saw it and felt “a deep need to purchase lumber for the first time in my life.”

Like many other ads, inclusion and diversity was at the heart of 84 Lumber’s epic commercial. Those themes weren’t really seen as political in previous years, but we live in different times. I will just leave it at that.


This ad spoke to me (and I imagine many of my fellow millennials) on a deep spiritual level. Christopher Walken dramatically reading N’SYNC lyrics would have been enough, but including Justin Timberlake was magical. Do I have any idea what Bai is? Nope, but the company slayed it.


The “50 Shades of Kristen Schaal” commercials were both great. I agreed with my editor, Kathy Mahan, that the second one featuring Schaal on the phone with a Verizon customer service specialist was the stronger of the two, but I got a hearty chuckle out of each.

I’ll always respect a company with the guts to spend millions calling out a competitor by name and throwing direct, hilarious shade its way. Game recognizes game.

And let’s not forget the Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg commercial that aired first. I write the marijuana stories for The Bee, and I will now ALWAYS think of “can of bisque” when writing the word cannabis.


I’ll never remember that this was a car commercial, let alone a Honda ad, but I probably will recall the cool (but creepy) talking yearbook photos. In a year with better commercials, this one probably wouldn’t have made the cut. But here we are.


For this one, I deferred to Fresno Bee Movie/TV critic Rick Bentley, who said “as an old guy, that was just so cool.” I embarrassingly wondered where Dennis Hopper was, forgetting that he died like six years ago. Whoops.

The Worst

Michelob Ultra

Michelob, I have questions.

Why would be the first one. Are we now supposed to think of Michelob Ultra as some kind of fitness beer? Has anyone ever ran a marathon and been like “you know, I could really go for a beer that tastes like dishwater?”

And what was the purpose of the “Cheers” theme song? Does everybody know our name at the gym? I doubt that’s the case. Has anyone at Michelob ever been to a gym? Because I’ve found most people just put on headphones and try to avoid making eye contact.

Turbo Tax

The Humpty Dumpty commercial was weird without ever being funny. Did anyone else catch that doing his taxes is what actually caused him to have a great fall? Isn’t that the exact opposite of the message Turbo Tax wants to send?

And we can’t agree on...

Mr. Clean

I thought this commercial was absolutely hilarious, but Rick did not. The internet also seems at a loss for consensus, as I’ve seen it listed in both categories of other best/worst compilations.

How can you not love an ad that says, without any hint of subtlety, that your wife will sleep with you if you clean the house this weekend? I am not married, but sitcoms have led me to believe that this is an issue for married men, so how is this not a win?