Super Bowl's TV ads are, er, a real smash

|Christine Daniels

Giant carrier pigeons terrorize a towering skyscraper. Justin Timberlake is thrown onto the street and dragged into traffic. One beer drinker torches a romantic dinner with his flame-throwing breather and another gets sucked into a jet engine.

What did the creators of this year’s Super Bowl commercials know about the fate that awaited the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl? 

Mayhem and destruction were overriding themes in the commercial barrage that was interrupted by long stretches of the Patriots spinning their wheels during the New York Giants’ 17-14 upset victory, tripping up New England’s quest for a 19-0 season at the final leg. Perfection is never the goal of these ads. Far from it. Shock value remains a popular objective, but try as these ads did, nothing plugging liquid refreshment, cars, tires or websites approached the edge-of-the-seat surprise that accompanied Eli Manning’s late touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress.

And nothing scripted by the people at did more for the concept of career building than the Giants’ Manning.

Consider precisely what Manning accomplished with his 19-for-34, 255-yard, two-touchdown passing performance in Glendale, Ariz. He not only kept pace with the tough act carved out last year by one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks (his older brother Peyton, who defeated the Chicago Bears in 2007), but also upstaged another (Tom Brady, who had been 3-0 in Super Bowls) on the same field.

Eli was like the Clydesdale in the Budweiser commercial. One year, he’s cut from the squad. The next, he makes the grade, thanks to perseverance, faith and some unusual coaching.

(One difference between the personal-trainer Dalmatian in the commercial and Giants Coach Tom Coughlin: The Dalmatian never changed its spots. Today, however, Coughlin’s upgraded resume includes the line: Yes, he can win the big ones after all.)

It was this kind of Super Bowl: The Miami Heat (9-36) had a much better day than the Patriots. Two of the telecast’s better commercials featured members of the less-than-lukewarm Heat. Shaquille O’Neal as a late-charging, physics-defying winning jockey was the thrust of a Glaceau Vitaminwater spot. In another ad, for T-Mobile, viewers suffered along with Dwyane Wade as he was pestered by never-ending phone calls from Charles Barkley.