Rating the ads: Clint makes my day
As a rule, the commercials rated highest during the Super Bowl are the ones involving talking babies, super-hot women, cute animals or wild sight gags, like guys getting kicked in the crotch. Artistically speaking, that’s the equivalent of “Transformers” winning a People’s Choice Award.
The Super Bowl has become America’s national holiday to celebrate our collective love of couch potato-hood, with advertising drawing as much attention (especially from marginal fans) as the actual football. And while there was some genuine creativity on display Sunday — little 30- or 60-second gems — as usual, most companies didn’t conjure spots worthy of the reported $3.5 million per half-minute they paid to participate in the one day on which watching commercials is perfectly acceptable.
Nearly 20 percent of the ads came from car companies and another half-dozen were for movies. The latter are especially resistant to doing anything tailor-made to the Super Bowl, so they can be pretty well dismissed (although for the record, I’ll be in line for “The Avengers” on opening weekend).
Budweiser — a usual stalwart — had a really bad year, creatively speaking, which didn’t help matters. Of the rest, who rose to the occasion and who fell short? Here’s a breakdown from someone who watches TV for a living, but, like any right-thinking person with a DVR, skips the ads whenever possible. (And for the record, I would buy David Beckham’s underwear only if I could look like David Beckham in it, so no sale.)
The Good (in descending order)
Chrysler: Using Clint Eastwood to deliver a patriotic “It’s halftime in America” message about the US auto industry was shameless, yes, but it will put a lump in a lot of throats — and it’s sure to be the ad that people debate for its political underpinnings on Monday.
Fiat: Man sees stunning Italian woman — but she’s a car! Perhaps the best illustration of the relationship between buying a car and testosterone I’ve seen in a while.
TaxACT.com and Cars.com: For whatever reason, dot-coms delivered the only laugh-out-loud spots of the day: A kid who desperately needs a bathroom winds up peeing in the pool; and a guy whose confidence sings to him. Will it make me use either website? Probably not.
Honda: The “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” spoof featuring Matthew Broderick actually plays much better in the long version posted to the web than what aired. But it still was OK.
Chevy: It takes major cojones to do a commercial about the end of the world, but the payoff — Chevy drivers survived; Dave, who’s missing, “drove a Ford” — is clever enough to make it work.
MetLife: Assembling all those cartoon characters, such as Voltron, along with the Peanuts gang provided a nifty sense of nostalgia, especially for baby boomers.
Doritos: A dog buys a guy’s silence for a missing cat with a misspelled note (appropriately) and a bag of Doritos. OK, so cat lovers won’t love it; everyone else will.
Volkswagen: Not as good as last year’s “Star Wars”-themed ad, but still pretty funny — using the first movie’s cantina scene.
Toyota: Its spot for the Camry — basically, everybody owns one — was heart-warming, while its second ad about reinventing things like babies and the DMV was genuinely clever and fun.
Bridgestone: Using former NFL and current NBA stars to make a point about the maneuverability of its tires should connect with men, and at least indicates knowing who your audience is.
Pepsi and Coke: Working Elton John into a spot showcasing “The X Factor” winner was lavish but empty, and Coke’s polar bears — always beautiful to look at — didn’t deliver much fizz this year. Try something new, please?
Acura: Sorry, you’ll never convince me Jerry Seinfeld — or Jay Leno, for that matter — wants to drive an Acura.
Chevy Sonic: Honestly, I don’t care if my car can bungee jump. How’s the gas mileage?
Skechers: A short-legged dog takes on greyhounds in his cool new shoes. Like Budweiser’s beer-fetching dog, cute, but yawn.
E-Trade, CareerBuilders and GoDaddy: That talking baby, those wacky chimpanzees and pretending you’re going to show me a naked lady are all so 2010.
Samsung Mobile: That was a lot of effort to just say “Screw you, Apple,” wasn’t it?
Teleflora: If buying flowers will get me a date with that girl, I’ll consider it. But let’s get real. The same goes for that Kia Motors commercial, which played like a bad acid trip.
Bud Light: The brewer’s spots for its new Platinum brand looked completely idiotic. Frankly, if I want to drink a snobby beer, I’ll drink something other than Bud, dude. Ditto for Budweiser’s “end of Prohibition” and 60 years of US history commercials, which looked like they cost a bundle to produce but had no payoff.
Century 21: Yeah, their agents are smarter than smart and faster than fast. And your commercial is stupider than stupid.
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