Dissecting the Super Bowl ads
by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Are you ready for some football? Or, more importantly, are you ready for some Super Bowl ads? As I mentioned last week, I’ll be blogging about the big game’s commercials right here, and invite you to join in via the comment field. Note that we’re talking ads only here, leaving the rah-rah rooting and reviews of the on-field action to others. And I may not get to every single ad, so if I skip one and you want to chat about it, bring it up in the comments.
If you’re more interested in the gridiron action than the ads, check out my colleague, Sunny Wu’s, blog of the on-field action. He may dip into our territory too, mentioning certain commercials as the ads appeal to him.
And our business section has set up a NCAA-tourney style bracket of the ads, which promises to be a lot of fun, too. Check that out here.
JESSICA SIMPSON FOR PIZZA HUT
Wait, was that a Super Bowl ad? They almost slipped that right past me, it was so ordinary. Was there anything in that commercial that you couldn’t see in any random ad the rest of the year? Cheesy Bites indeed, emphasis on the “cheesy.” And I hear a rumor this is just part of a series. Oh, yay.
BUD: ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS
So they play Rock, Paper, Scissors with real rocks and paper. Rock wins. As a friend of mine says, “It IS a rock, after all. Should beat anything.” But I’m not actually even sure what beer was being advertised, which you’d think is the point.
DORITOS READER-SUBMITTED AD
We’ve certainly heard a lot about these. Can regular folks make ads any better than Madison Avenue? Based on this one, where people smash into a bunch of things because they’re Doritos-happy, my guess is “no.” Reminds me of the VW ads where you start closing your eyes early because the accidents are kind of upsetting.
BLOCKBUSTER PET STORE
Animated animals are usually pretty cute. But the “clicking and dragging” of the real mouse? Yeah, just came across as mean to me. PETA no doubt has Blockbuster on speed dial. From your comments, though, I’m the only one who thought it wasn’t hilarious.
SIERRA MIST BEARD COMBOVER
Yuck, although perhaps not that far from what Donald Trump may be trying for his next hairdo. At first I thought this was the Geico caveman trying a new gig. It also reminds me of today’s “Ask the Ethicist” in the NY Times, in which a teacher isn’t hired simply because he has a beard. The Ethicist, as usual, is no help.
Just…what? Is it 1970 all of a sudden? Slick salesman with the red sportscar impressing the ladies? Oh, I don’t know. And I have no idea what the site even does.
SIERRA MIST MARTIAL ARTS
OK, kind of funny. Am I the only one out there who thinks “Sierra Mist” is one clunky name for a soft drink? I mean, I guess a two-word name works fine for “Mountain Dew,” but “Sierra Mist” comes off to me like a Safeway house brand, or something. I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of that product tonight, though.
Truck races through a steel door, stops at the edge of a cliff. What is it with these ads creeping me out? Not that we haven’t seen this in every sci-fi movie, but you have to wonder if they ever didn’t make it through the door in rehearsal. Reminds me of “SNL”: “Bring in the stunt baby!”
Heh, I like the floating dog. What is this ad for? Oh, “Firefly.” Er, I mean, FedEx. My favorite ad so far.
BUD LIGHT AUCTIONEER WEDDING
Who couldn’t use that guy at a wedding every once in a while? Let’s cruise through the ceremony and get to the buffet, already. Not bad.
SNICKERS MEN MAKE OUT
Stupidest. Ad. Ever. My friend Andy checked out the Web site listed, and notes that there are four endings to this commercials and viewers are supposed to vote on the one they like best. How about I vote that this commercial be sealed in Kryptonite and buried at the bottom of the sea, never to be seen again by anyone? How about that?
CHEVYS MAKE EVERYONE SING
It took me a second to get this, but I guess the pitch was based on “there are a lot of popular songs that mention Chevy.” Got it? I do like hearing the music, though.
BUD LIGHT LANGUAGE CLASS
Were all beer ads written by people who were already drunk on the product? I tell ya.
Really a promo, not a commercial, but I’ll post about it here since people are bound to love it. And Oprah living in Chicago and Dave being from Indy, it even works in that regard. Somehow I think Dave and Oprah would be pretty fun to watch the game with. You just know they’d have something smart to say about that stupid Snickers ad. Oprah would deliver a smart lecture on how it’s really OK for men to kiss and Dave would rip off Paul Schaffer’s chest hair, or something.
Did I lose the coin flip, or something? Who knew that covering the commercials would be boring, and the game itself would actually be full of tricks and treats? Hey Sunny, want to trade jobs?
GO DADDY MARKETING BABES
Yeah, no women watch the Super Bowl, or use your Web site, whatever it is. Don’t worry, we’re not in the least bit offended when we’re shown as being sprayed down with hoses for the enjoyment of men. Keep right on appealing to the brain-free. What did Bill Cosby have his characters say? “Russell, you’re like school in summer. No class.”
COKE AND COMPUTER-GENERATED PEOPLE
I thought this was an ad for “The Sims” until the last second there. Although I guess it more closely resembled “Grand Theft Auto.” Is this a game Coke, with their relentlessly family-friendly, perky image, really wants to be down with?
BUD: HUNGRY DOGGY IN THE SPOTLIGHT
My new favorite ad. Hungry, lost mongrel gets splashed with mud, can now pass for a firetruck Dalmatian and is accepted up onto beauty queen’s lap. Awwww. Good use of “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” too.
GARMIN JAPANESE MONSTER MOVIE
Wow, that was either really stupid or loopily wonderful. I need a second to decide.
MEN RUN FROM TRAINING SEMINAR: CAREER BUILDER
I am sensing a theme here: Let’s only appeal to men. Only men watch football. Only men buy products. Only men need Web sites. Or maybe: Only men make the ads?
DORITOS VIEWER-MADE AD: CASHIER GETS FLIRTY
This is what Doritos picked out of X zillion viewer-made submissions? Maybe we should leave the commercial-making to the pros. Except that pros apparently made the Snickers commercial, so perhaps there is a flaw in my theory.
MEN STRIP FOR CHEVY
How do parents watch this game with their kids? I mean, seriously: They have to explain to them that this is supposed to be funny?
BUD: SLAPPING REPLACES FIST-BUMPING
Sometimes you start to wonder: Is it me? Does everyone else think this is funny except for me? How did this ad get past a zillion focus groups and ad execs? Am I a humorless prude out of touch with modern America? Or does the emperor have no clothes? And right now I’m thinking: Hey, that emperor, he is NEKKID.
PEOPLE DRESSED UP LIKE DISEASES/CONDITIONS ATTACK A HEART
GM: ASSEMBLY LINE ROBOT DREAMS OF SUICIDE
This is much funnier, only not in a way GM ever intended, if you read “Rivethead.” Or saw “Roger and Me,” where one scene focuses on the short-lived theme park AutoWorld, where a robotic autoworker sings a love song to the robot replacing him on the line. Also, some folks are questioning the suicide element of the ad, both for sheer taste issues and because the robot was so darn cute kids worried he might actually jump.
COKE: BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Not that we’re not big fans of Rosa Parks, but Coke pretty much phoned that in. Show the product, show some incredible phrases about history, hope viewers associate the two. Phoned it in.
The latest from the sports desk: Game blogger Sunny Wu is refusing to swap jobs with me. Seems he prefers this lively, close game to these not-so-lively ads. Also, reader revolt is forming in the comments because I am a “Negative Nancy” who does not like enough of the ads.
SPRINT: CONNECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Nope, that one’s not going to help me shed the “Negative Nancy” label, either.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER PROMO
It’s not a real commercial, but I have to comment on the “How I Met Your Mother” promo in which the characters go to great lengths to try and get through the day after the Super Bowl without learning who won. Heh. I kind of appreciate that because it feels almost impossible to do in this day and age — as we at MSNBC.com discover when we receive angry emails after almost every major sporting event or TV show from people who are furious that we spoiled the result for them.
DORITOS: BLACK HISTORY, TAKE TWO
That one worked better for me than the Coke ad: Doritos (I mistyped as “Coke” at first) shows little snippets of people, mostly African-Americans, watching the game. Obviously going for the Black History Month angle, but in a more subtle way.
COKE: MR. HADLEY GETS DARING
Not a bad ad, here, but overall, I’m missing something…missing the great Super Bowl ads of the past, like herding cats and Mean Joe Greene…the ads you really talk about the next day. Mr. Hadley isn’t awful, but neither is he especially memorable. Unlike, say, this game.
GEICO: THE CAVEMAN IS BACK
Readers loved these furry-faced guys in our summer commercial contest, and it’s fun to see them back. I also like ads that rely on images and music rather than BRAYING AND SCREAMING THE PRODUCT NAME, so I liked it. Welcome back, Cave Guy!
HALFTIME QUICK RECAP:
BEST AD: Budweiser stray dog gets mud splashed on him, becomes a star
WORST AD: Snickers is grossed out by men kissing, but not by chest-hair ripping.
Short version: Budweiser’s stray dog turned Dalmatian is very cute. He’s about the only ad that’s received resoundingly positive comments, and we haven’t even seen a Clydesdale-starring ad yet.
Just a note: If anyone sees a regional ad that they think is worth commenting on, feel free to describe it in the comments, since we all see different ones at certain times. Here in Seattle we just saw a Washington Mutual ad that I am guessing is regional. It involved a bunch of old naked bankers who were thrilled because they can bank online without getting dressed. Yeah, that’s about it. I had to TiVo it and watch it again to see if I was missing the point, but…no. Uh, those were some pale and scrawny naked legs, there.
My colleague Sunny Wu continues to refuse to swap blogs with me. Thanks a lot, pal. Obviously, he knows a good thing when he sees it, and he has the far more interesting subject matter this year.
ETRADE: BANK ROBBERY
Yes, we do feel our banks rob us.
COKE: RUBE GOLDBERG-ESQUE MACHINE
Cute. This feels more like a real Super Bowl ad to me. It looks like it took some time to prepare, and it reminds me of the old “Mousetrap” game. Someone has commented that the Coke ads have all been shown in movie theaters. Remember when there were no commercials in movie theaters? Seems like 100 years ago.
BUD LIGHT: MONKEYING AROUND
I’m a sucker for the animals. I liked this one. Wait, what’d ya say?
SHERYL CROW COLORS HER HAIR
Sheryl Crow colors her hair: Film at 11! Tom in Manhattan wants to know if I’m happy now, what with my earlier ranting about how the ads are all aimed at beer-swilling “Animal House” types. Happy? Not until she pours a pitcher of water on her shirt! Oh, OK, just kidding. I give you this: That ad was definitely not aimed at “Animal House” types.
OFFICE TYPES GO ‘GLADIATOR’ FOR CAREER BUILDER
Heh, I liked this one more than their other ad. Thumbs-up for the Post-It-Note suit and the three-ring binder-heads.
TACO BELL LIONS
It’s no Budweiser muddy puppy, but it’s fun anyway. They’ve saved the better ads for the second half, I guess — or at least the funny animal ads.
VAN HEUSEN SHIRTS
No one can say this one didn’t appeal to the women, what with the shirtless stud doffing his VanHeusen shirt.
TUNDRA: TRUCK STOPS ON A RAMP
If I want a truck that I can drive in “Fear Factor,” this is it.
EMERALD NUTS: ROBERT GOULET MESSES WITH YOUR STUFF
Robert Goulet channels Michael Scott from “The Office.” I am pretty sure I have never heard of this snack brand.
SIR CHARLES AND DWYANE WADE: T-MOBILE
“Is this your dad?” Is this an old ad, or just similar to one I’ve seen before? It reminds me of seeing an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Borat, where he says he was thrilled to see “Ashton Kutcher and his mom Demi Moore” at his movie premiere, or some such.
DON’T JUDGE BY OUR NAME: FED EX GROUND
This reminded me of those jokes we loved in grade school: What do you call a guy in the ocean with no arms and legs? Bob! Ha ha…ha?
K-FED FOR NATIONWIDE
The most talked-about ad before the game: K-Fed working the fryer. If only it were true, but instead K-Fed is turning down $25 million as not enough to support his lifestyle.
HITCHHIKER WITH AN AXE: BUD LIGHT
At first I thought that was the Geico caveman, but it was just a crazy simulation. But I liked this one for its broad humor and the shock in the voice of Axe Man as he spots Leatherface’s chainsaw-toting kin. Also, I just watched the original “Hitcher,” so I am not offering a ride to anyone.
ACURA: HELPING PEOPLE ADVANCE
We were supposed to have hovercraft! They promised us hovercraft!
JACK IN THE BOX: JACK’S KID WANTS TO BE A VEGETARIAN
Is this national or regional? We didn’t have Jack in the Box fast fooderies in Minnesota where I used to live, but even if this isn’t national, it’s pretty funny. The son of the Jack in the Box clown gives a school speech saying he wants to be a vegetarian, but it turns out he means “veterinarian.” Reminds me of the 1980s song “Cause I’m a Blonde,” where Julie Brown sing-says “I just want to say that being chosen as this month’s Miss August is like, a compliment I’ll remember for as long as I can. Right now I’m a freshman in my fourth year at UCLA, but my goal is to become a veterinarian, ’cause I love children.”
CRABS BOW DOWN TO BUDWEISER
Animal ads. Hard to lose with animal ads, I’m tellin’ ya. My pal Sunny makes the joke that had to be made: “The beach … crabs … Budweiser — sounds like a bad spring break I had during college.”
PRUDENTIAL: ROCKS HAVE MANY PURPOSES
Reminds me of a project in a class I took where we had to create an ad campaign for a regular ol’ rock. I marketed mine as a pesticide-free insect repellent. However, readers have a more-modern interpretation, as several comments refer to the fact that “a rock” sounded to them like “Iraq.”
ELVIS HAS BURNING LOVE FOR THE CR-V
The car ads are just all running together for me, but I like the song.
AMERICAN CHOPPER GUYS FOR HP
This just reminds me I used to really like “American Chopper.” And now I don’t even know if it’s still on.
IZOD SNOW GLOBE/BEACH
Izod is still around? Do they still have the little alligators and the popped collars? They pretty much owned every high school hallway in the 1980s, even for those of us who were as far from preppy as you could be.
JAY-Z AND DON SHULA: FUTURISTIC FOOTBALL-CHESS FOR BUD
Bud is just flooding the zone with ads. I’m not sure where they were going with this one, except to make people say “Huh, Jay-Z and Don Shula, wouldn’t have pegged them for chess players.”
That was great of “Saturday Night Live” to let them slip in a parody ad there, considering “SNL” runs on a different network and all. Wait, what? It’s not?
ONE FINGER IS VERY POWERFUL: ETRADE
They forgot one powerful use of a single finger: If you are a Mooninite, you can shut down Boston. I liked this ad, though: Save Holland! And as someone in the comments noted, it sure did look like the Geico caveman was the accused murderer.
CAREER BUILDER GUYS STILL RE-ENACTING ‘SURVIVOR’
Those binder clips on the guy’s chest looked pretty darn painful. I wouldn’t have expected this ad campaign to be a series, but I think the ads are improving as the game goes on. Or maybe I’m just getting woozy.
HONDA CARS SWERVE AROUND TRAFFIC CONES
See what I mean? The car ads are just all running together. That could have been any car model out there, and unless I’m going to be driving around traffic cones in the desert, the visuals don’t make me want to buy a car.
GO DADDY MARKETING RERUN
Hey, why not start rerunning them? We might have missed the subtle nuances the first time around.
GREEN TEA SNAPPLE: WHAT IS EGCG?
Still don’t know what EGCG is, still don’t really care.
NFL: RECOVERING FROM FOOTBALL
Oh yeah, you’re laughing, but this is a pretty apt depiction of how many football fans are about to feel in about a half-hour. Liked the jazz funeral music. Hey, Brett Favre. There’s a guy who needs a new agent — he can just never seem to get any publicity. You never hear or read about what he might be doing.
What, no Clydesdales?