Super Bowl XLI: the commercials

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February 8, 2007

4:57 PM

Does $2.6 million sound like a lot of money to you? It did to me, especially when I considered the things that Robin Leech might advise me to purchase if I were to come into that kind of money. You might ask, what does $2.6 million buy you these days? For starters, you could score a five-person private jet. Or maybe you’d prefer six Lamborghinis (the Versace edition, of course) with some change for a couple hundred bottles of Cristal? Better yet, how about a 30-second advertising spot during the Super Bowl?

p. Okay, so maybe you can come up with a better way to spend $2.6 million, but some of the country’s biggest companies are only too willing to shell out that kind of cash for a tiny window of time during the biggest television event of the year. The mega productions they create are the blockbusters of the advertisement world, and many Americans admit that they look forward to them more than the game itself. Here is a run-down of the best and worst of this year’s fare.

p. The first quarter of the game was sloppy on the field, and the ads weren’t much better. They started off slowly with an amateur **Doritos** ad that went nowhere and an unremarkable ad from **SalesGenie.com** that apparently featured the world’s best salesman. Yawn.

p. **Sierra Mist** continued their desperate attempt to make Michael Ian Black seem funny, and failed miserably, ending up with Jim Gaffigan in a very, very unflattering pair of cut-off shorts. Drink Sierra Mist and you can be a mal-adjusted guy with pale legs — sounds appealing, right?

p. We get our first glimpse of a move in the positive direction with the first **Bud Light** ad of the night. Bud Light may be shitty beer, but at least the company knows how to make a decent ad. This one addresses the age-old paradox: how in the world does paper beat rock? In the commercial, two guys square off for the last Bud Light with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and when confronted with paper, the “loser” chucks a rock at the “winner’s” face, proving that rock is way better than paper. Deal with it.

p. After briefly returning to mediocrity with a **FedEx** “Moon Office” ad saved only by a brief audio clip of “The Final Countdown” and a “Lady and the Tramp”-inspired **Snickers** ad that purports that homophobia is still somehow considered funny, we finally reach a moment of true brevity. Sure, it was a **CBS** house ad featuring David Letterman and Oprah, but it was short, sweet and funny — quite literally the Holy Trinity of Super Bowl ads. Finally, we had an early front runner for Best in Show.

p. But lest we actually start enjoying the ubiquitous commercial breaks, we immediately plunge back to **GoDaddy.com’s** sad attempt at sex appeal. Wow, there are fake boobs everywhere — what a novel concept. It would’ve taken a lot to unseat this ad for worst of the night, and thankfully, nothing did.

p. Fortunately, though, it got better. I was happy to see a feel-good story about the wannabe **Budweiser** Dalmatian that gets the girl in the end, followed by humorously grotesque guys who couldn’t resist removing their shirts to treat a **Chevy** to a spontaneous carwash. Continuing with the feel-good theme, **GM** presented us with a vignette about an assembly line robot that loses its job for dropping a screw. The robot goes on to commit suicide, and while the room collectively sighed in relief when it turned out to be a dream, I couldn’t help but feel as if nobody felt this bad for the worker who that robot replaced. Not to mention the fact that it makes light of suicide, which is never good.

p. As we moved on to the third quarter after a halftime show that was great for all the wrong reasons (where did that Foo Fighters song come from?), the game began to slow down, and it seemed like the ads did, too. **Bud Light** returned with a humorous gorilla who couldn’t resist striking a pose, and **Taco Bell** served up an amusing spot featuring two lions arguing over rolling the “R” in “carne.” Cute, but not cuddly – I liked it.

p. Up to the end of the third quarter, the ads had been pretty miserable, albeit with a few high spots. Then, finally, we hit gold. First up was an **Emerald Nuts** ad featuring the magnificent Robert Goulet as some kind of office nymph with low blood sugar. In a word: hilarious. Next, **Nationwide** gave us the schadenfreude moment of the year. The insurance company’s ad starts with a cringe, featuring a “rap” by notorious ex-Mr. Britney Spears, Kevin Federline. Suddenly, however, K-Fed is downgraded to fry cook along with a warning: “life comes at you fast.” Well played, Nationwide. Well played.

p. We finally reached the fourth quarter of the game, and clearly CBS didn’t save the best for last. Other than a **Budweiser** ad that shows crabs on the beach pilfering and subsequently worshipping a cooler that happens to resemble a giant crab god (by the way, associating anything with crabs may not be the best marketing technique), all we get are a few unmemorable car ads and Jay-Z playing a football video game with Don Shula that, apparently, was for **Budweiser Select**.

p. The fourth quarter was more or less a complete dud. It was a fitting end to a largely unsatisfying four hours, speckled with a meager assortment of overachievers. If not for the resplendent Nationwide/K-Fed collaboration, the night might have been a complete disaster.

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