Super Bowl XLIII Ads Reviewed

 

Every year, I watch the Super Bowl, as much for the commercials, as for the game.  And, every year a couple of my friends and I get together after the game, and discuss our opinions of the commercials that were shown that year.  This year, I decided to bring these opinions to my blog, and so I have written a list of my favorite and least favorite commercials for the year.

I will try to stay away from commercials that are not new (though I am a big DVR watcher, and it is very possible that I would have simply missed a commercial up to this point), and I will ignore commercials that do not try to be ‘Super Bowl quality’ commercials.  I also will ignore the car commercials for the most part.  To make either list (good or bad), I have to feel like the people who made the commercial were trying, and not just buying time to run the same old commercials for the same old campaign that they always do.

Let’s face it, when it comes to Super Bowl commercials, it’s all about the humor.  Most of the great Super Bowl commercials over the years have had some comedy element to them.  Sometimes there may be one that has good CG that makes it stand out, but CG is so good today that we have become used to it to the point that we just expect it.

Top 5:

5. The Carlos Boozer commercial for Overstock.com where he shows the difference between ‘bling’ and an Olympic gold medal was poignant.

4. The Pepsi Max ‘I’m Good!’ commercial was funny and had a nice use of visual humor; something that is easily abused in a commercial.

3. The Conan O’Brien Bud Light commercial where he does a freaky commercial that is only supposed to be seen in Finland was hilarious.

2. The Pepsi MacGruber/Pepsuber commercial with Will Forte was brilliant.  I loved it.

1. The Bridgestone commercial with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was brilliant. 

Bottom 5:

5. The obtuse Cheetos commercial with Chester, the pigeons, and the irritating lady on the cell phone was too weird, and the timing was off.

4. The 3D Sobe commercial with the dancing football players was terrible.  They must have spent all of their money on the effect.

3. All three (1, 2, 3) of the boorish, tiresome Budweiser Clydesdale commercials

2. Both, but especially the second of the two Go Daddy commercials with Danika Patrick

1. The horrible Teleflora commercial where the flowers in the box insult the lady reminded me of a horrid Jared Jewelry commercial.  It will be my worst of the Super Bowl simply because of the awful message.  They should be ashamed.

See all the Super Bowl ads here.

Before the Game:

Hit- When I saw the E-Trade commercial with the little kid, I thought, “Not these tired ads again.”  However, by the end of it, I thought it was pretty funny.  I’m sure all of the golfers will be calling each other “Shankapotumus” for the next few months.

Hit- The Samsung commercial where the guy loved the Cowboys so much that he became an usher so that he could sneak out of church an listen to the game was funny also.

Miss- The commercial with Lebron James daydreaming that he was a Cleveland Brown was a good idea but sort of fizzled.

Hit- The McDonalds Charities commercial where the girl gave the pennies out her loafers was nice.

First Quarter:

Hit- The Bud Light commercial where the guy was thrown out the window for suggesting that they could save money by not buying Bud Light for every meeting was sort of funny.

Hit- The Audi commercial that showed car chases moving through the decades was clever.

Hit- The Bob Dylan/Hip Hop commercial for Pepsi was clever and nostalgic.

Miss- The Doritos ‘Snow Globe’ commercial tried to be funny, but it was just bad.

Hit- The Conan O’Brien Bud Light commercial where he does a freaky commercial that is only supposed to be seen in Finland was hilarious.

Hit- The Bridgestone commercial with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was brilliant.  It was easily my favorite commercial of the first quarter.

Miss- The Castrol Edge commercial featuring a guy who had a group of monkeys become devoted to him after he used the product was weird and unfunny.

Second Quarter:

Miss- The Doritos commercial which had a guy who suddenly had powers that were associated with crunching a Doritos’ chip was better than the first one, but still nothing to write home about.

Miss- The Go Daddy commercial with a showering Danika Patrick was the same old tired thing from them.  They need a new idea.  Guys, Danika was already in Sports Illustrated.  I saw the pics.  They were OK.

Hit- The Pepsi Max ‘I’m Good!’ commercial was funny and had a nice use of visual humor; something that is easily abused in a commercial.

Miss- The Pedigree ‘Maybe you should get a dog was a good try, but a miss.

Miss- It’s time to put the Clydesdales out to pasture.  I just don’t care about them, or the fact that they can fetch.  Not funny.

Miss- Budweiser has a history of staying with a commercial idea until everyone hates it (see the fogs, lizards and the Bud Bowl– I just threw up in my mouth).  The commercial where the Clydesdale follows the white horse that he is in love with was worse than the first one.  It’s time to send this commercial to the glue factory.

Miss- The Gatorade “G” commercial gets an ‘A’ for star power and an ‘F’ for delivery and presentation.  I’ll bet it cost them a mint.

Hit- The cars.com where a guy named David Abernathy is a child prodigy but needs help buying a car was clever.

Hit- The E-Trade commercial featuring the two babies, one of which was singing, “Take These Broken Wings” was a good one.  I did not like these commercials in years past, but they seem to have stepped it up this year.

Miss- The Bud Light Drinkability commercial where the guy used the telestrator was not funny at all.

Miss- I don’t know how you can incorporate Death into a commercial and end up with an unfunny product, but H&R Block was able to do so.

Miss- The horrible Teleflora commercial where the flowers in the box insult the lady reminded me of a horrid Jared Jewelry commercial.  It will be my worst of the Super Bowl simply because of the awful message.  They should be ashamed.

Miss- The obtuse Cheetos commercial with Chester, the pigeons, and the irritating lady on the cell phone was too weird, and the timing was off.

Halftime:

Incomplete- The 3D Monsters vs. Aliens commercial looked good, but I did not have the 3d glasses, so it looked a little fuzzy.  Pixar is always great, though.

Miss- The 3D Sobe commercial with the dancing football players was terrible.  They must have spent all of their money on the effect.

Honorable mention- The Heroes commercial with John Elway was kind of funny.  I’m sure it would have been better if I had watched the show.

Miss- I just do not care about the Toyota Tundra or the commercials that they choose to run for it.

Miss- The Priceline commercial with Shatner as Cyrano De Bergerac was not bad, but the premise is too tired for the Super Bowl.

Hit- The Carlos Boozer commercial for Overstock.com where he shows the difference between ‘bling’ and an Olympic gold medal was poignant.

Hit- The ‘Milosh wants to play for…’ commercial for American Airlines made me smile.

Third Quarter:

Miss- I don’t even know what Coke was trying to do with this commercial, but obviously they spent a lot of money again this year animating a failure.

Miss- The Bridgestone commercial where the tires are stolen off the moon rover was not funny.

Hit- The mob-styled commercial for Denny’s where the guy is contemplating the fate of a rat while the waitress finishes putting a smiley face on his pancakes was surprisingly funny.

Miss- Unfortunately, Monster.com proved that comic timing can be so off, that even a guy sitting under the ass of a moose can fail to be funny.

Miss- Apparently, the only cure for the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials is the cure that is used for most horse ailments, a twelve gauge.  The Scottish one was just as tiring as the rest.

Hit- I found the 60 second Career Builder commercial to be funny, but I expected more since they had this much time to work with.

Hit- I still do not understand why Coke keeps making the Pixar-style commercials that seem to have little purpose.  That all being said, I liked the one with the insects in the third quarter of the game.

Miss- I don’t care that Kellogg’s is rebuilding fields.

Hit- The Usama Young NFL commercial was enjoyable.

Hit- I hate the Jack commercials for Jack in the Box, so I got giddy when I saw Jack’s cracked head on the pavement in front of a bus.  I thought the lines from the lacky talking on the phone were funny too.  If this is Jack in the Box’s way of getting rid of Jack, this may end up as my favorite commercial ever.  However, if this is just the start of a ‘save Jack’ campaign, I may not live through it.  I will reserve judgment.

Fourth Quarter

Hit- I generally hate the Coke Zero commercials, but this modern take on the old Mean Joe Green commercial with Polamalu was funny, except for the Coke Zero guys which, as usual, were a whip.

Hit- The Cash for Gold commercial, though funny, was a little uncomfortable with the references to all of the bankrupt celebrities.  It seemed like they were taking advantage a little.

Miss- I care even less about GE and their ‘eco-savings’ than I did about Kellogg’s building fields.

Hit- The Hulu commercial with Alec Baldwin was a little weird, but they get an ‘A’ for getting their message out and explaining their product.

Miss- GE, I just don’t care about your wind energy.

Hit- The Pepsi MacGruber/Pepsuber commercial with Will Forte was brilliant.  I loved it.

Miss- Someone needs to tell the Bud Light Lime people that the whole ‘walking around and having an effect on the world around me because of the product I am wearing or have with me’ has been done many times before, and recently, and better.

Miss- I thought the first Danika Go Daddy commercial was bad, but this one was terrible.

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A Parting Shot at the Olympics

I want to start off this rant by saying that for the past two weeks I have watched a lot of the Olympics.  I can be a little obsessive about things like this, and with the greatness of the invention of DVR, I was able to record and playback an significant portion of all the televised events, liberally fast forwarding through the fluff and replays to see all of the important (and some unimportant) events.  I also want to say that, for the most part I enjoyed what I saw.  The Olympic games carry with them a mystique that is hard to screw up in the first place, and the added element of patriotism that I felt, and good sportsmanship that was exhibited by almost all of the athletes (I do exempt the numb-skull from Cuba who kicked the referee in the face from this statement) made watching the events that much more enjoyable.  I will also credit the host country, China, for putting on a great spectacle and providing great venues for the events.  The presentation (excluding NBC’s coverage) was unrivaled and deserves to be lauded. 

That being said, I was angered at the smug attitude exhibited by International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge in a three-part interview with Bob Costas over the weekend.  The biggest theme that came out of the interview was that the Olympics were not ever going to criticize China for any reason.  The truth is that China rolled-up the Brinks truck in a way that the Olympics has never seen before.  And, make no mistake about it, the IOC is about making money.  They are not about to bite the hand that just served them the colossal feast that was the Beijing games, and the definitely do not want to cut off this gravy-train.

In the piece, Bob half-heartedly attempted to interview Rogge about several controversial aspects of the games. He asked him about the controversy swirling around the Chinese girl’s gymnastics team, and whether they were cheating by sending underage girls to the competition.  He completely dodged the question by putting the onus on the gymnastic federation.  Let’s be honest, the IOC was not interested in offending the Chinese by strongly pursuing any such allegations.  Besides, the IOC has much more blatant problems to deal with in these games such as the travesty that was the boxing venue.

I said at the beginning of this controversy, that if these girls were under 16 that the rules needed to be changed.  The argument that 13 year olds cannot compete at the Olympic level falls apart when several of them win their respective competitions at the biggest of venues in the sport.  As it is, the Olympics only come around once every four years, and a gymnast’s opportunity to compete is greatly diminished if he or she is unlucky enough to be born in the wrong year.  Costas pointed out that there was a 14 year old British diver at the Olympics this year.  Rogge hid behind the rules of the respective federations on this answer, and added a paternalistic (possibly chauvinistic) statement about protecting the athletes.  This rang especially hollow with China, and its Olympic tradition of taking 3 year olds away from their parents to be trained for the Olympics as a backdrop to the conversation.  As I said, the rule should be, if you are able to compete, you should be allowed to compete, but until the rules are changed, the IOC should enforce them for everyone.

Later, in a discussion of the dropping of baseball and softball as Olympic events, Rogge used the steroid controversy (baseball), and being unfairly associated with the steroid controversy (softball) as reasons for the dismissal of these sports from the games from the games.  I will give Costas a little credit here.  He ignored Rogge’s disingenuous answers and went straight at the truth.  First he alluded to the fact that baseball does not send major leaguers to the games due to the conflict in schedule.  Rogge admitted that the Olympics desired to have the best athletes on the field.  Translation: the IOC would make more money if Jeeter and A-Rod were there.  So, if they can’t have those guys, then they’ll take their Olympic games and go home.  This is odd because baseball, being second only in popularity to soccer in the world, can field competitive teams from any number of Central American, South America, North American and Asian countries even if they do not get major leaguers.  Also, a compromise might easily be worked out by rotating the games from the Northern to Southern hemispheres.  This way every other Olympics could be attended by major leaguers who would be attending the games in the Southern hemisphere in baseball’s offseason.

The reason that Costas forced out of Rogge for the removal of softball was dominance by the USA women.  Of course, the irony of this was the fact that the USA women lost in the gold medal game to Japan.  Rogge, in a classic bit of smugness, suggested that the loss had a silver-lining by proving that other teams could compete with the USA.  Golly, thanks, Jacques.  That makes us feel so much better.  So, all we have to do is lose to in order have our sports accepted in the Olympics.  I wonder if Chinese dominance of ping pong, or Russian dominance of rhythmic gymnastics (not a sport, but that is a discussion for another time) or Hungarian dominance of water polo is going to relegate these sports to the Olympic ash-heap.  I doubt it.  This is simply another in a long line of IOC digs at the USA, its biggest generator of capital.

Finally, Costas brought up China’s reputation for human rights abuses.  In particular he mentioned Joey Cheek, Tibet, and two 80 year old Chinese women who were sent for re-education for the sin of simply applying for a legal permit to hold a protest.  Rogge said that the IOC defended Cheek (fat lot of good that did), but on the matter of Tibet and the two women, Rogge went on the offensive.  He stated (and I paraphrase) that if the governments of the world had no power to expect China to reform, then how could the IOC be expected to force China to reform.  This high-handed comment ignored the point of the criticism which has been leveled at the IOC all along. 

The point of this criticism is that the IOC should not award games to countries that have human rights issues, abusive training regimens for their athletes and tend to bend the rules on a corporate level as it comes to the games.  Of course, the IOC has no power to dictate policy to any country.  It does, however, have the right to express its outrage or even concern for a country’s policies by simply not awarding them an Olympic games in the first place.  The sad truth is that the point of this interview was to show where the IOC stands now, and it is clear that when you come to the IOC with enough money, they will bend over backward to make sure that you give it to them.  Look for China to have a games every 20 years from now on.