Less bang for Super Bowl ad megabucks

BY foxsports • February 6, 2011

In terms of headlines, Green Bay capitalized on three turnovers to win Super Bowl XLV, FOX demonstrated its belief anything worth doing is worth overdoing — and covered the game as if watching is an American’s patriotic duty — and Fergie managed to keep all her vital areas covered during the surreal “Tron”-like halftime show.

That leaves the much-ballyhooed tradition of analyzing the ads, and whether they delivered a mega-bang for the $100,000-a-second bucks shelled out by sponsors.

For the most part, Madison Avenue’s creative whiz kids whiffed this year, with an uninspired collection of would-be 30-second masterpieces. Granted, The Force was strong with Volkswagen — and that priceless kid in the Darth Vader costume, which went viral before kickoff — even if it won’t get me to drive a Passat. Other than that, I’m hard-pressed to remember many of the spots from the horde of car companies that crowded into the game this year.

Similarly, the dot-coms mostly misfired, in what felt like a kind of strange throwback to 2000. CareerBuilder and Etrade, notably, merely offered new variations (chimpanzees and talking babies, respectively) of what they’ve done before — nothing to get excited about. The exceptions, by happenstance, were both automotive: CarMax.com, which played off old-time customer service versus today; and Cars.com, which delivered a funny spot with the message that it’s not always a terrific idea to go first.

Meanwhile, GoDaddy — which creepily pasted Joan Rivers’ head on a voluptuous woman’s body — fired off a major dud, as did Doritos.

Here are the rest of the highlights, lowlights and everything in between.


Coke: Wow, its CGI spot, with the fire-breathing dragon tamed by a Coke, resembled “The Lord of the Rings” and kept you guessing about what product it was for until the payoff. If the idea is for these commercials to be as big and bold as the game, mission accomplished. The cola maker also delivered a little silent gem, with two lonely sentries in the middle of nowhere sharing a soda.

Bud Light: A mixed bag overall, but Anheuser-Busch’s product-placement spot, with beer logos popping up throughout an action movie, was shrewd, and another featuring trained dogs serving drinks was amusing. Those almost atoned for the company’s lame spots, like the one where a fix-it show decorates a kitchen with beer.

PepsiMax: A thought-balloon date, where all the guy keeps thinking is “I want to sleep with her” before Pepsi diverts his attention, was among the funniest spots.

Kia: An Optima gets zapped by aliens, among other things, in a commercial so visually arresting it made me wonder if (or maybe wish) I was smoking something. But it was hard to ignore.

“Thor”: Of all the movie spots, this one for the Marvel comic-book hero looked the most tantalizing — excluding the various presold sequels, like the next “Transformers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Chevy: The idea that Chevy’s electric car, the Volt, represents a historic bridge to the future was well-realized and compelling.

Bridgestone: A helpful beaver saves a motorist? OK, a little “Caddyshack”-esque, but pretty good. And while I’m not sure what retrieving an errant e-mail has to do with Bridgestone tires, that spot was mildly funny, so two thumbs up.

Skechers: Kim Kardashian, sweaty and sexually suggestive. ’Nuff said.


Doritos: Funny animals and physical comedy are supposed to be an unbeatable combination, but having a dog jump into a closed glass door isn’t funny (ask Michael Vick), even if it backfires. Ditto for the guy who ignores personal boundaries in his love of leftover Doritos cheese.

PepsiMax: More lame broad sight gags: a guy getting hit in the nuts with a soda can and a second, in which a woman gets nailed in the head — which is about as uninspired a punch line as one could imagine.

Sony Ericsson: Maybe the weirdest spot of the day — a spy-like chase, leading to a green robot, with grafted thumbs — made me want to throw up much more than buy an Android smartphone.

Chevy/Audi: Interesting that both Chevy and Audi went with the “Our car is young and hip” approach by making fun of old people. So they tick off the old people driving them, without appealing to the young ones.

Best Buy: Having Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber in the same commercial sounds funny on paper. On TV, not so much.


Chrysler: While I get the idea of trying to make buying an American car a patriotic gesture (“Imported from Detroit,” it said in closing), the dramatic build-up and messenger — Eminem? — felt slightly out of whack.

Motorola: While I admired the idea behind spoofing Apple’s famous “1984” ad in promoting the Xoom tablet, the nuance of that was lost in the execution. A missed opportunity.

Verizon: OK, so Verizon service can work with the iPhone now. Got anything else to share?

Teleflora: It’s smart to run a commercial for flowers right before Valentine’s Day, but no bouquets for this one otherwise.

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