Super Bowl Commercials

By John C. Dvorak

Well, the Super Bowl is over, and everyone has seen what they wanted to see: cool commercials.

This was the first year the Internet companies got a lot of attention for what they were expected to put on the air. We were expecting incredible and fantastic commercials. What we got were a few interesting commercials and a lot of mediocrity. Now I rate them.


Yahoo! Yahoo! was on all day with its inventive and always wacky “Do you Yahoo!?” commercials, including those with the classic punk rock guy who likes to quilt and the priceless “guy in a yurt with a monkey.” These are some of the best commercials on TV. Describing any one of them would take a whole column. I’m sure you’ve seen a few. A+.

HotBot. HotBot advertised throughout the Super Bowl day but unfortunately had nothing new. I will say, though, that the “old links” theme, with a roomful of old codgers representing Web search engine hits, is a masterpiece of advertising creativity. I’d like to see some new ones! (Take a clue from Budweiser, which essentially dominated the Super Bowl with lots of funny ads and a big blimp called Bud One. The Bud people were also smart enough to drop the idiotic “Bud Bowl.”) I’ll still give HotBot an A for its advertising. This day was to be the showdown between and, and won hands down. Its commercial depicted a bunch of kids talking about their goals in life. All were satires of unfortunate situations. “I want to be a perpetual underachiever,” for example. The classic was a little kid with a big smile saying he wanted “to be a yes-man!” coasted to victory over the good but not that good ad, which was interesting but not memorable. A for Monster. Here was the sleeper. A slew of gorgeous half-naked pure babe-olas bouncing around and promising to do an online lingerie-modeling Webcast this Wednesday! What more could any football fan or computer geek ask for? Hardly in the same creativity league as the advertisers listed above, but very appealing on a Super Bowl Sunday. Good timing! A-.


e-trade. These guys were advertising heavily with ads that insulted stockbrokers. The gags worked, and the direction of the ads was superb. Still, it was a one-note-Johnny situation, with variations on the same insults theme. I’d like to see more creativity. B+. These folks dropped half of their income on this one ad, which was a slightly overproduced shaggy-dog story about a guy who’s looking for a job and finally finds it. We watch as he becomes a security guy. It’s just not that funny. I doubt that the ad got the company any real attention. The money could have been better spent elsewhere. Also, the ad didn’t appear until the second half, when people were tuning out. Still, they get a B from me.


Apple. Mac users were expecting something spectacular from Steve Jobs and Apple during the game. The company did manage to get the absolute first high-tech ad shown during the game. But it was totally lame. We got to see that red HAL lens from the movie 2001, with the HAL voice talking to “Dave” about the year 2000 problems and about how the Mac had never had these problems. How do you spell B-O-R-I-N-G? Old references that nobody cares about. Huge disappointment. C.

Gateway. Nothing new or special. Just one of its generic ads, which was kind of insulting to people watching the game and expecting cool new ads. C.

Sun. These folks actually ran one of their lesser canned “We put the dot in” ads. What does it take to do something unique for the Super Bowl? I get the feeling these folks don’t watch football and are unsure what the Super Bowl actually is. C.


Micron. Everyone loves the folks at Micron, and we all wonder who was behind this pointless and annoying ad featuring shapely actress Jeri Ryan. Ryan is the ultimate gearhead’s-dream-date kind of actress, who on “Star Trek Voyager” plays a Borg named Seven of Nine. In this bad commercial she plays a frustrated cubicle worker who rebels, tears up the office, and claims that she’ll never play by the old rules again. This somehow turns into an ad for Micron, because “the rules of business have changed.” Like this is going to sell computers. Hey, guys! You normally sell on price and performance. What gives with this stupid ad? The way I see it, someone had the hots for Ryan and wrapped an ad around her in hopes of getting a date. This ad really stinks. D.

Siebel. Ever hear of it? It advertises a lot and I still can’t figure out what it does. I would love to know, but it doesn’t seem interested in telling me. In the TV ads it says it has something to do with sales or productivity or relationships or something. Is this software or hardware or consulting? I have no clue. Maybe it’s the CIA. I can’t figure it out. The ads are cool-looking but tell me nothing. Hey, folks, get a new agency! D.

Siemens. Only saw one ad, and it was on the pregame segment. Just a boring institutional ad. Drivel. D.

AT&T Personal Network. Jazzy ad that had no real sales pitch. D.

THE WORST Shown during the postgame show. A guy on all fours walks up to a dog’s behind and sniffs his anus. Then the ad says, “Get to know us.” The dog tries to get away, and the guy on all fours walks after him. Yuk!! Who is the creative director? Pauly Shore? It’s beyond not funny. My advice: Seek counseling and get a new agency. F.