Do Super Bowl ads work? Are they worth the cost for advertisers (this year, it’s $4.5 million per half-minute)? Yes. No. Maybe? If it’s hard to quantify their effect, it’s best to consider Super Bowl advertisements as very expensive attempts to please, amuse, distract, and even, perhaps unintentionally, unsettle us—and to judge them accordingly. Here are some of the best and worst commercials from this year’s game.
The sight of Jeff Bridges playing a Tibetan singing bowl provided the great “Huh?” moment of the night. Some explanation: the ad, for the Web-site-building company Squarespace, also promoted the actor’s new spoken-word album, “Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes.” The Web site for the project looks good, which is the point of the collaboration, I suppose, but the album itself is even better. Parts of it are essentially lullabies from the Dude—imagine relaxing in a nice warm bath, pre-marmot—while others, owing to the collaboration with “True Detective” composer Keefus Ciancia, sound weirdly sinister. I’m not sure if Bridges’s voice is soothing or terrifying, but proceeds from sales of the album go to feed hungry children. And you can pay what you want for it, which is certainly not true of a Kia or a Bud Light.