The Super Bowl Commercials – Winners & Losers!
We usually complain that the Super Bowl ads are a letdown, but this year had a pretty strong crop... a lot that were really strong, and nothing that could be considered an outright flop.
There were a ton of commercials for movies, and we won't get into those too much... if you want to see "Thor", "Captain America", "Rio", "Cowboys and Aliens", or the FIFTH effing "Fast and Furious" movie, you probably liked the ads for those movies.
We're also not going to talk about FOX's promos for different shows too much. They pushed some midseason replacements like "The Chicago Code" and "Traffic Light" and that was that.
Here's the good, the bad, and the shock value of the commercials from this year's Super Bowl. If you missed any, you can watch them all online at superbowlads.fanhouse.com or youtube.com/user/adblitz.
Remember like a decade ago, when dot-coms just dominated the Super Bowl ad space? The automobile industry has clearly taken over the mantle now. It seemed like every car manufacturer had at least one commercial.
Volkswagen killed it with a commercial featuring a little kid dressed as DARTH VADER trying to use the Force on different objects... and thinking he succeeded when his dad secretly started his Volkswagen with the remote. They actually released it online last week.
Hyundai also had a great ad for their Sonata hybrid. It showed people using old-fashioned technology like bikes with one huge tire, '80s cell phones, and "Pong" as a message of what happens if you don't innovate.
Chrysler also had a strong, dramatic ad showing the Chrysler's roots in Detroit. It featured EMINEM... and probably would've been more powerful if Eminem hadn't been featured in a Lipton Brisk Iced Tea ad earlier in the game.
That's right. Eminem showed up in TWO Super Bowl ads. The Chrysler one was better, but came later. He also appeared in that Lipton ad where an animated version of him listed a bunch of demands for a commercial.
Bridgestone also owned the night with two great ads. In one, a worker accidentally sends a "reply all" email to his whole company, then uses his Bridgestone tires to get to the data center to rip out the company's Internet cables.
The other Bridgestone ad was even better. A man almost hits a beaver in the road, but manages to stop in time. They bond... then, six months later, the beaver chews down a tree to save the guy from an accident and salutes him.
Doritos had a few big ads early in the game, including one that blew up online featuring a guy licking Doritos cheese dust off his co-workers' fingers... and, at the end, pants. Another Doritos commercial featured a guy taunting his dog outside through a glass door... and ended with the dog knocking the door over to get to the chips. It wasn't spectacular, but people love dogs. (???)
We also LOVED an ad produced by the NFL where they took old TV clips, from every show from "Seinfeld" to "The Simpsons" to "Family Matters" to "Happy Days" and digitally added football gear to the people featured. It was GREAT.
There were a few Coca-Cola ads during the game... not all of them were great, but one was pretty memorable. It had an animated fire-breathing dragon that drank some Coke and started breathing fireworks. At least it LOOKED expensive.
Motorola also had an ambitious ad for their iPad-like tablet, the Xoom. It parodied Apple users and referenced the famous "1984" Apple commercial... with people all dressed alike, wearing white, and listening to white earphones.
Bud Light was somewhere in the middle this year... which seems to be their trend lately. Nothing spectacular, nothing awful. Just very... middle.
The best of their commercials featured a party with dogs serving drinks, cooking food and, of course, playing poker. It more relied on "dogs are cute" to sell rather than "this is a funny commercial."
Budweiser had their annual Clydesdale commercial. This time, a menacing cowboy rode to a bar, ordered a Budweiser, and was angry when they didn't have any. But the Clydesdales delivered some just in time...
So he led the entire bar in singing ELTON JOHN'S "Tiny Dancer". (You might recognize the guy who played the cowboy, Peter Stormare. He was also the nihilistic porn star 'Karl Hungus' in "The Big Lebowski".)
Pepsi Max had three ads during the game, and while none of them was a complete disaster, Pepsi's Super Bowl campaign as a whole was sort of a flop.
The first one featured a woman forcing her husband to diet, then finally agreeing on Pepsi Max. It ended with her knocking out another woman in the head with a can of Pepsi Max for making eye contact with her husband.
The second ad ended with a preppy '80s-movie a-hole type of guy getting hit in the groin with a can of Pepsi Max.
The trend this year seemed to be a move away from slapstick and toward a slightly more clever means to get a laugh. Pepsi Max didn't seem to get that memo.
Their third ad rehashed one of the most tired old stereotypes EVER... a woman on a date thinking "Can I marry him?" and a guy thinking "Can I sleep with her?" Give the audience a LITTLE credit, Pepsi.
GoDaddy.com has built up a reputation for making edgier Super Bowl commercials... mostly through their own bragging about making edgier Super Bowl ads... but this year, they didn't stand out at ALL.
They had one ad where JILLIAN MICHAELS and DANICA PATRICK introduced a new spokeswoman... surprise, it was JOAN RIVERS.
In the second ad they teased maybe kinda sorta doing something sexual, but never showed more than bare lower legs. Their "Jillian Michaels and Danica Patrick" direction seems less effective than their old "random large breasted skanks" model.
Snickers tried to recapture the magic they had last year when they relaunched BETTY WHITE into becoming a superstar. But this year, they picked a couple of far less likeable celebrities... RICHARD LEWIS and ROSEANNE BARR.
Even though Roseanne Barr got hit with a giant log, we don't see this leading to her hosting "Saturday Night Live" by popular demand in a few months.
A lot of commercials went the celebrity route, but proved that simply putting a celebrity in a commercial doesn't make it good. Ozzy Osbourne, Puffy Daddy, Justin Bieber, Adrien Brody, Kim Kardashian, Faith Hill, and Kenny G all guest starred in ads, but their mere presence alone didn't really take those ads to another level.
Ozzy and Justin Bieber's ad was for Best Buy, and how they'll buy back your old electronics. It was okay, but felt more like they were saying "LOOK, we got Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber" than actually promoting their buy-back program.
And the Kim Kardashian Sketchers ad was a cheesy excuse to show off her body and her backside. Which is fine, until you realize that's EXACTLY what people expect from a Kim Kardashian ad. Something more creative could have gone a long way there.
THE SHOCK VALUE
A few companies might get a little buzz for going edgier... and they all seemed to have ads in the third quarter.
Groupon ran an ad that looked like a public service announcement for people struggling in Tibet... then pulled a 180 and talked about great coupon deals on Tibetan food. It wasn't funny enough to get away with being mildly offensive.
They also had another ad on FOX yesterday... it didn't run during the game but was before and after. It featured ELIZABETH HURLEY talking about chopping down the rainforests, then compared it to coupons for hair removal. Same issue.
Mini Cooper ran one of the edgier Super Bowl ads in recent memory, talking about how much stuff you could "cram in the boot," where boot meant trunk. The entire 30 seconds was a clear metaphor for NO-GO HOLE RELATIONS.
You've got to give the Mini people credit... dropping $3 MILLION to talk to hundreds of millions of people about anusex is pretty impressive.
The third somewhat-controversial ad was from a website called HomeAway.com. Frankly, their entire ad seemed like a convoluted effort to get away with the visual gag of throwing a baby into a plate glass window. Not so spectacular.
Oh, and for what it's worth, Chevy ran an ad that revealed that their OnStar service can fill you in on your Facebook updates. (???) At our party, the whole room went dead silent afterward... then busted out laughing. Now THAT'S shock value.
Super Bowl Commercials In Brief: The Winners and The Losers:
Bridgestone tires. They had two ads that performed very well, including a big one with a beaver and driver becoming good friends and helping each other out.
NFL. The NFL took old TV clips, from everything from "Seinfeld" to "The Simpsons" to "Happy Days" and added football clothing to characters. It just WORKED.
Volkswagen. Their ad featuring a kid dressed as Darth Vader using The Force got a giant response online . . . even though they'd released it online days earlier.
Doritos. Doritos had two strong commercials, one with a guy licking cheese off his co-worker's fingers and pants, and another with a dog pushing a glass door over onto his owner for taunting him with Doritos.
Pepsi Max. Pepsi went mostly with slapstick and old stereotypes... like guys getting hit in the groin, and men thinking about sex on a date while women think about marriage. Their ads felt generic, derivative and uninspired.
Groupon. They went the edgy route, starting their ad to make it seem like it was about suffering in Tibet, then turning it into an ad for coupons on Tibetan food. It wasn't funny enough to justify going the semi-offensive route.
HomeAway.com. Their entire commercial seemed like a setup for them to throw a baby into a plate glass window. It's not a great punchline and wasn't a great commercial.