2014 Best Super Bowl Commercials features ads directed by David Gordon Green, Nicolas Winding Refn and more

With 111.5-million U.S. viewers, and a further 7.3-million in Canada, Super Bowl XLVIII was the most-watched in history. The commercial spots were the most expensive for any TV broadcast in any given year, and there were plenty of big name stars and A-list directors who helped create these very expensive advertisements. John Hillcoat, director of The Road, helmed the spot for Coke. The minute long ad featuring a multilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful” was refreshing to many, but left a bitter taste in the mouth of conservative pundits. Bruce Willis and Fred Armisen get close for Hyundai, and prolific music video and film director, Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go), re-teamed with U2 for the Bank of America “Invisible spot”(Romanek directed U2 in an Apple commercial in 2004). The small screen rarely attracts this many big screen filmmakers in one night, so we decided to vote on our favourites – and despite the big names already mentioned, none of them made the cut. Here’s our list of favourite ads. Let us know which is you like best.

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#14. Love Hurts – Turbo Tax Big Game Spot

“It’s not easy watching a team that’s not your team play in the biggest game of the year. It’s like going to prom and watching that girl you love dance with some guy who’s not you. Some guy name Sean.” TurboTax and John C. Reilly remind us to not let the Seans of the world get us down.

#13. Axe Peace – Make Love Not War!

One of the surprisingly poignant commercials that aired during the 2014 Super Bowl was directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman). “In a world filled with war, the greatest weapon is love. Make love, not war with new AXE Peace,” the caption for the video read along with the hashtag #KissForPeace.

#12. Toyota’s “Big game ad starring Terry Crews and the Muppets” 

In this ad for the 2014 Toyota Highlander, Terry Crews picks up the Muppets, a whole flock of chickens, and a grand piano, and they all go on a musical adventure. By the end of the spot, the NFL-star turned “Old Spice guy” finds himself in good spirits and living next to Kermit the Frog.

#11. Carmax’s “Slow clap” and “Slow bark”

American used car retailer CarMax produced two separate ads for its 2014 Super Bowl campaign. The first shows Sean Astin being congratulated by way of an epic slow clap after successfully buying the perfect used car. After thanking a CarMax rep, the agent starts a slow clap, in homage to the classic underdog football movie Rudy, which Astin starred in. The second is the exact same advertisement, recreated with puppies. While CarMax decided to air the original, human-version of the ad during the big game, it’s the puppy version that won more hearts (and shares) around the world wide web.

#10. Kia Matrix Ad

Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy for this Kia ad. In this he offers a couple the choice of keys to two different vehicles: a blue key and a red key. “Take the blue key, go back to the luxury you know,” he tells an unsuspecting couple. “You take the red key, and you’ll never look at luxury the same again.” Kia, like so many other brands this season, proves that nostalgia is a guaranteed winner in the world of advertisements. The ad was directed by Carl Erik Rinsch, who recently helmed 47 Ronin.

#9. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee 

A few weeks ago, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, and Larry David were spotted filming at Tom’s Restaurant—the Manhattan diner that served as the exterior for Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer’s regular haunt on the beloved sitcom. As you can imagine, rumours began that the famous sitcom was returning. Turns out it was both a Super Bowl commercial and an excerpt from an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

#8. Squarespace – “A Better Wed Awaits”

Henry’s Crime director Malcom Venville directed “A Better Web Awaits” – a commercial for Squarespace that left millions of people totally confused. But for folks who spend too much time browsing the internet, it’s a fine ad with jokes based off spam email, social media advertising, memes, viral videos, and more.

#7. Budweiser –  “Up For Whatever – Epic Night”

Jeff Tremaine, the filmmaker behind the Jackass movies, directed Budweiser’s “Up For Whatever – Epic Night” which features Reggie Watts, Minka Kelly, Don Cheadle and Arnold Schwarzenegger pulling a prank on an unsuspecting bar-goer with one night of wild partying.

#6. GoPro

Had I not just purchased a GoPro camera, I would have imediately after watching this Super Bowl ad. Remember when Felix Baumgartner had the world on the edge of its seat with his daredevil Red Bull Stratos jump? Well, GoPro’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial lets the world relive the skydiver’s wild jump from space to earth, in crystal clear 1080p. An extended eight-minute-long version of the 30-second spot is also available online.

#5. Maserati Ghibli Commercial

Ten year-old Quvenzhane Wallis is the star of Maserati’s 2014 Super Bowl Commercial, an ad heavily inspired by Beasts of a Southern Wild, the film in which she not only made her acting debut, but was also nominated for an Oscar. The ad which carries the tagline “We Have Prepared. Now We Strike,” was directed by filmmaker David Gordon Green (George Washington, All The Real Girls, Pineapple Express).

#4. Budweiser’s “Puppy love”

Budweiser boasted this year’s most-favoured ad –without even showing a bottle of beer. The company’s heartwarming one-minute-long spot titled “Puppy Love” feautes a golden retriever puppy who forms a strong bond with one of the iconic Budweiser Clydsedale horses. No matter how many times they get pulled away from one another, they find a way to reunite because they are, as the ad’s tag line says, “Best Buds.” Released online Jan 29., it is the most widely shared Super Bowl advertisement to date according to Viral Video Chart. The commercial was directed by Jake Scott (the music video filmmaker behind the 2010 feature Welcome to the Rileys). It is one of two commercials he directed this year. Scott also directed Coke’s “Going All The Way” spot which featured an overzealous peewee football player and the song “Jump Around” by The House of Pain.

#3. Audi 2014 Big Game Commercial – Doberhuahua 

For this year’s Big Game, Audi has created a never-before-seen creature to show the frightening consequences of bringing compromise into the world. Directed by Noam Murro (300: Rise Of An Empire), the ad stars Sarah McLachlan who pleads for the world to help poor misunderstood breed, the Doberhuahua.

#2. David Beckham for H&M – Campaign Film

Well played, H&M! The 30 second commercial had actually been released online a week earlier, but left out one very small, but important scene out – and that scene makes all the difference in the world! In the ad, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), David Beckham is taking part in a photo shoot for his Bodywear line of clothes. He gets locked out of the studio and goes on a free running-style adventure, slowly losing his shirt and trunks along the way. But the really eye-opening part is not Beckham, but a new technology that lets shoppers buy from the comfort of their home.

The 30-second spot which aired during the second quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII allowed viewers with Samsung smart TVs to buy featured H&M products directly from their television set. It’s the first example of a new form of commerce called t-commerce, and it will revolutionize shopping. “This is a game-changer for the advertising industry,” said Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Delivery Agent, the company behind the shoppable ad. “We are collectively redefining the power and effectiveness of television advertising. Years ago, the world talked about the potential associated with buying Jennifer Aniston’s sweater. H&M, in an industry first, will now realize that potential by making their Super Bowl XLVIII ad actionable and directly measurable.”

#1. Radioshack – “The Phone Call”

Radioshack’s self-effacing Super Bowl ad confronts the electronics retailer’s reputation for being somewhat less than cutting-edge. The electronics outlet’s newest television spot, “The Phone Call,” admits the obvious – RadioShack’s business aesthetics have been stuck in the 80′s. In paying tribute to the most rad decade, actors depicting various celebrities and iconic characters of the 80′s ransack a dowdy RadioShack of its VCRs, fax machines and boom boxes. Among the cast of characters is Kid and Play, John Ratzenberger (Cheers‘ Cliff Clavin), 1984 Olympics darling Mary Lou Retton, Child’s Play‘s Chuckie, WWE superstar Hulk Hogan, Dee Snyder (Twisted Sister), ALF, Erik Estrada (Ponch from CHiPs) the California Raisins and Q*Bert (to name a few).

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By Ricky

Ricky D is the editor-in-chief of Sound on Sight and one of the hosts of the Sound On Sight podcast and the Sordid Cinema podcast. He is Sound On Sight's expert on Horror and contributes written reviews when time permits.

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