Let’s face it; the commercials are almost always the best part of the Super Bowl. In fact, it’s probably the only time where people Tivo-ing a show and then blow through the content to get to the commercials (instead of the other way around). This year’s was a bit different; it was actually a game.
Here’s my take on the commercials (note that these titles aren’t official, it’s just what I’m choosing to call them). I’m choosing to ignore the CBS ads; there wasn’t much there there to review.
The ads that didn’t suck:
McDonald’s “Burger Wrapper Dryer Sheet” – Cute, amusing, off beat.
Bud Light “Two Dogs” – Unexpected, if sophomoric humor.
Bud Light “Bikini Wax” – Amusing. Cedric the Entertainer was good casting.
Tostitos “The Wedding” – Amusing with the best man breaking into tears.
Ford GT “The Racetrack” – Very austere; nothing put the car driving really fast on a European style race track with a voiceover. Probably perfect for the target demographic (which doesn’t include me).
Pepsi “Leftover Bear” – Cute, a slyly subversive take on some of the identity issues going around these days.
HR Block “Willie Doll” – Particularly ironic, given Willie Nelson’s tax history.
Sierra Mist “Scottish Relief” – Actually, I didn’t like this at all until the kid at the end quipped “That’s just wrong, dad”.
Bud Light “Donkey Clydesdale” – Cute enough. Not the best ad, but cute enough.
Mitsubishi “Accident Avoidance” – Quickly got your attention, ended on a cliffhanger with a redirect to a website (which I’m sure was immediately farked out of existence). Well done.
Visa “Snow Volleyball” – Loved it when the ball went into the water and they did Evens/Odds to see who had to go into the ice floes to get it back.
Chevy “Soap Bars” – Great setup with a perfectly executed payoff.
Lays “Bag Race” – The competitive spirit lives!
Wachovia “Free Air” – Nice nostalgia pull for when air at all gas stations was still free.
Expedia “Magique” – I liked the pseudo-Cirque Du Soleil reference.
Staples “Supply Godfather” – This one worked for me, but I’m a fan of the Sopranos.
Gillette “The Best” – Black and White was a nice touch, particularly with all the iconic sports references clicking through.
Cadillac “Desert Water” – Good special effects, definitely a high end commercial.
Budweiser “Lipstick” – Very cute, converges with the Ford GT ads.
Busch “Designated Driver” – Nice, responsible ad. Not one of the better ones, but not horrible either.
Mastercard “The Simpsons” – Well, I’ve thought the Simpsons were one of the best show on TV for years. This perfectly captured Groening’s sense of humor in the context of the Priceless ad series.
AOL “Top Speed Car” – Nice reference to Back To The Future.
Nextel “Earnhardt” – While I detest that Nextel chirpy thingie, this was amusing.
Busch “We ID” – Another nice, responsible ad.
Truth “Glass Pops” – While this was another ad from a tobacco company proselytizing people not to smoke, it was a funny one.
7-Up “Slam Dunk” – Laugh out loud funny.
Subway “Be Bad” – It was the “sorries” at the end (Wang Chung, the coffee in the laps of the bad tippers, etc,) that worked for me.
Cadillac “Break Through” – Continuing with the Desert Water theme, picking up where the last commercial left off.
Anti Drug “Help Them” – The music was very reminiscent of Mark Snow’s work on the X-Files, so that worked for me.
The spots that blew chunks:
Taco Bell “Chalupa Clubbin’ ” – Okay, I’m biased because I detest Taco Hell. But why would I want to buy some food that would have me acting like those three losers who though the local Taco Bell was a rockin’ night club?
Bud Light “Ambient Images” – A rotating bottle and various text words over ambient music. It didn’t even move me enough to say that I didn’t like it.
Pizza Hut “The Muppets” – And Jessica Simpson is one of them, just with more movement. I’m glad she’s on minute thirteen. I also wonder how many takes she had to do.
FedEx “Alien Jenkins” – Was probably funny at some point in time, but the alien idea didn’t really go anywhere.
Dodge “Monkey On My Back” – Other than calling to mind an old Aldo Nova tune, this didn’t do much for me.
Schick “Quattro” – Sheesh, why not five blades? Or thirty-six?
AOL “Top Speed Jumping” – Only works if you are familiar with American Chopper, and then only vaguely amusing.
Chevy Aveo “Little Outside” – The elephant thing was amusing, but the basketball players becoming midgets fell flat.
Levitra “Football vs. Baseball” – Okay, so you’re attempting to alienate all the diehard baseball fans? Good thinking.
Levitra “The Challenge” – Throwing footballs through the hole in the middle of the tire? My, that’s not even slightly subtle….
Pepsi “Downloads” – I’m thinking that the RIAA hated this commercial; it
Bud Light “Rocket Sled” – Probably was considered to be funny somewhere along the line. It didn’t come out that way.
Pepsi “Sandwiches” – I think I’ll switch to Coke.
AOL “Amped Wheelchair” – If the first AOL ad was bad, this was much worse.
NFL Network “Tomorrow” – Please tell me that no one will be singing on this channel. If so, I’ll never watch even once. Not even on a bet.
Microsoft “School Girl” – This entire ad series has been pretty insipid.
Sierra Mist “Good Dog” – This ad was trying to recapture some of the magic from the previous good dog ads, but it just never clicked.
Bud Light “Monkey Frank” – A lecherous monkey. Hilarious. To other lechers.
Honda Pilot “Raised By Wolves” – Buy this car if you’re feral? Another great marketing ploy.
Cadillac “Silence” – Do many drivers of Caddies actually desire to go over the speed of sound? I don’t think so.
The commercials that had me scratching my head as to what the heck they were saying:
California Cheese “The hot cow” – Definitely didn’t make me want cheese. Aficionados of cattle probably ate it up, though.
Ford GT “Silhouette” – Didn’t really show enough of a car to allow you to know anything, but a decent set-up for the next few.
Cialis “Two Tubs” – I have no idea what this might be selling, other than two older people sitting in a pair of claw foot tubs outside watching the sun set.
Monster “Soulmates” – Apparently Monster.com has the ability to let you search for the exact person who will be interviewing you and doing personality matches?
Charmin “Illegal Hands” – A good fit with the Super Bowl, but still a strange, vaguely homoerotic ad.
IBM “Muhammad Ali” – A left field ad that didn’t really sell any benefits of Linux.
Monster “In Love” – A bunch of people getting ready for work. And this makes me want to use your site why?
SBC “Looking Back” – What exactly are you saying here? You’ve been around a long time. So what?
Florida Orange Juice – Very standard ad.
NFL Fallen Heroes fund – Nothing remarkable, but it seems like a good cause.
Van Helsing – This looks to be a very big budget summer movie flop to be. I could be wrong, but it looks way too much like The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Troy – Looks like a decent flick, harkening back to the “cast of thousands” days of movie making.
50 First Dates – Looks like a standard Adam Sandler Film.
Bud Light “The Ref” – I can’t decide if this was amusing or annoying. Or just misogynistic.
Miracle — Standard film commercial.
The Alamo — nice reference to Jaws in it (“We’re gonna need a lot more men”).
Philip Morris “One Of Five” – Getting past the irony of a cigarette company advertising for people not to use their product, it was strictly average.
Starsky And Hutch – Pretty standard movie trailer.
Secret Window – Pretty standard vaguely Stephen King-like movie plug.
Chevy “Ten Vehicles” – Standard car ad.
Nissan Altima “Attractive Car” – I’ve seen this one many times before, so not much there.
Sony “Exchange Student” – Also not new.
Acura TL “Wired Car” – Neat toy, but nothing new as far as the ad goes.
Hidalgo – Standard move trailer
The Anti-Drug “Life Rewind” – a standard anti-drug ad.
AIG “Chalkboard” – While fitting with the Super Bowl, it wasn’t all that compelling.
Ciba Vision “Contact Lenses” – ho-hum.
Now, I actually have a lot of sympathy for the people who come up with these ads. You only have thirty seconds to get across your idea, so you don’t have a lot of room to move. Commercials may actually be harder to make than some TV shows.