A Ho-Hum Night: Commentary on the Commercials of Super Bowl XLVIII
I watch the Super Bowl for every facet of it. The singing of the National Anthem by opera star Renee Fleming was OK, but couldn't compare to past efforts by Beyonce, Cher or Jennifer Hudson. Bruno Mars' halftime show was a treat (I could have done without the brief appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers). I didn't stick around after the game for the airing of The New Girl but I tuned in later for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. As for the game itself, I waited for the Broncos' comeback, but it was not to be, but watching the Seahawks pounce on them had some entertainment value.
And then there is the advertising, a different animal from the game's other components because the ads aren't monolithic. Each has to be considered separately. But overall, they were an uninspiring lot. Rest assured, no ad from this year's lineup of advertisers will be part of any Advertising Hall of Fame induction. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate none at 8 or higher - even a 7 might be generous. Nonetheless, I had a few favorites (relatively speaking).
- Wonderful Pistachios - I've never liked this campaign, which has been running for three years, but with Stephen Colbert featured, I was amused.
- Doritos - The time capsule made from a cardboard box made me laugh, especially when the fellow thought he had traveled to the future and the angry old neighbor greeting him when he opened the box was the little kid.
- Chevy Silverado - This ad, showing a bull being taken to stud, got my attention because of the disco song "You Sexy Thing". It was cute and I thought the photography of the bull and cows was great.
- Butterfinger - A silly set-up with a couples therapy set up, but it did get my attention because of the product introduced, i.e., peanut butter cups.
- Toyota - Featuring Terry Crews and the Muppets, Crews is appealing because of his exasperated muscle-hulk persona (somewhat like the Rock). By coincidence, he also co-stars in the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which aired after the Super Bowl.
- Subway - Despite its usual uninspired creative, the ad nonetheless gained my attention with news about its Fritos Chicken Enchilada sub.
- Go Daddy - The swarm of shirtless hulks running (along with a muscle lady) got my attention. I watched it with interest to see what the ad was for and was, not surprisingly, disappointed by the payoff.
- Esurance - Airing immediately after the game, it wasn't technically in the Super Bowl, but close enough. I liked it because of John Krasinski's delivery.
Like all of the Super Bowls, the vast majority of ads were boring, nonsensical, derivative, aimed at the masses. Rather than go through each one I'll feature just a few to berate (actually, fourteen of them):
- Coca Cola - Despite it being on of the unofficial sponsors of American obesity not one overweight individual was shown.
- Audi - Although the "doberhuahua" was somewhat amusing, the ad's tag line, "Compromise scares us too", turned me off. I half expected a voice at the end announcing that Audi was official car of the Tea Party.
- Chrysler - I was told this wasn't a Saturday Night Live parody commercial, but I'm not convinced. Bob Dylan took the place of Clint Eastwood and Eminem who did similar rah-rah Detroit ads in previous Super Bowls. Great, someone in their 70s touting a struggling industry. I wonder if viewers under 30 even know who Dylan was?
- Anheuser Busch Clydesdales - The "awww" factor stopped working for me years ago. Now I just roll my eyes as I think of all the easily manipulated misty eyes across America. A-B should have a tie-in with Hallmark.
- Chobani Yogurt - So much build up for so little pay-off. A bear eating yogurt? Wow.
- H&M - David Beckham has been featured perhaps one year too many. Or is H&M planning on showing him every year as he ages?
- Beats Music - Ellen Degeneres once again milked her tiresome dancing routine. (And I'm not looking forward to her hosting the Oscars.) When I started writing about this ad my incorrect recollection was that this was an ad for Beats by Dr Dre. headphones.
- Carmax - Yes, there were a number of funny aspects but too much of it was ho-hum, including the central character, who was an uncharismatic schlump. And at the end of the ad I didn't know exactly what Carmax was.
- Honda/Hugfest - This spot began with an earnest Bruce Willis, but then it turned stupid when the camera panned out to show Fred Armisen hugging him - what was the connection between the two?
- Hyundai - I like Johnny Galecki but I hardly think of him as a spokesperson - and Richard Lewis? He was barely recognizable. And similar to Bruce Willis/Fred Armisen, what was the connection between the two?
- Jeep/Are You Restless? - Puh-leez, much too pompous and the product pitch came much too late.
- Volkswagen - A dad tells his uninterested daughter that an angel gets his wings every time a VW reaches 100,000 miles. Too many examples shown, I got the point the first time. And why did one of the guys at the urinal have small wings? Only 50,000 miles?
- Bud Light/Ian Rappaport's Night on the Town - I hate all mass-market beer commercials, and Anhueser-Busch is the exclusive beer advertiser at the big game.
- Crackle.com - Featuring Jerry and George from Seinfeld, I didn't realize this was an ad (for a website that airs Seinfeld's show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee"). The only thing that went through my mind was how Jerry and George had aged but not Newman (who showed up at the end).
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