Superbowl LXIV Ad Reviews

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by Jeff Antman

Yes, it’s that time again. Once again let me remind you, I don’t review movie or TV show promos (one exception this time) nor, this year, spots for video games if all they feature is the game graphics. An interesting note, probably an indication of the economy, this year CBS ran more promo spots for its own shows than I ever remember seeing in a Superbowl. I guess it’s pretty hard to sell those uber-expensive :30 in a recession. But on to those hardy (and often foolish) companies who sprang for the dough:

Bud Light (BL) – so there’s a house completely made of full cans of the brew, there’s even a fridge made of BL that’s filled with BL. The only thing that saves this spot is the quick bit of the owner’s wife in the shower, that’s funny. For the rest…C+ (shower gets the +)

Snickers – “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry.” Quite funny spot that features Betty White in a neighborhood football game in the mud, somebody says, “You’re playing like Betty White,” then the hapless Betty is fed a Snickers, whereupon she transforms back into the young guy and continues the game, then we see Abe Vigoda, another old person that needs transforming by Snickers (glad to see Tessio is still alive).
Clever use of older iconic performers in unlikely setting. A

Family Values – I have no idea who perpetrated this pabulum upon us. Tim Tebow’s Mom is babbling something about how the family went through blah, blah, blah, he runs through to tackle her, she outmaneuvers him, then she says, he’s tough but she’s tougher. I suppose this is meant to convince people not to have abortions, or use tough love, or? I get the feeling there’s a social message…but don’t get what it is. F

Hyundai – Sonata- Several spots from this auto maker this year, in what is traditionally the worst category, this one is as bad as stale kimchee. Only proves what we’ve always suspected about Koreans both north and south; they have no imagination. But at least the southern ones aren’t friggin’ crazy! D

Boost Mobile – Rapping football players? Just shoot me. F

doritosDoritos – Once again Doritos proves that it has more of a sense of the absurd than any snack food out there; enough of a reason to buy them. In this spot a man sits on a park bench eating Doritos, a dog comes by for a snack, the evil human sees he’s wearing an anti-bark collar, which gives a shock if the dog barks. Man says if dog wants Doritos he has to “speak”. Dog barks, gets a shock, goes away. He removes his collar and sneaks up behind the man and puts anti-bark collar on him. Dog takes the man’s Doritos, when he tries to protest, the man gets shocked. As it is said, “Every dog has his day” and this one has snack food karmic revenge too. A+

Doritos – Now they’re on a roll. Guy comes courting a beautiful woman bringing flowers to her house, she introduces man to her son and says, “play nice”. From man’s POV we watch woman sway out of the room in a short denim skirt. Man starts making small talk with kid, and reaches for bag of Doritos, little kid gets up in his face and tells him, “Keep your hands off my mama, and keep your hands off my Doritos.” Very cool. A

BL – “It ain’t rocket science” – astronomers in observatory see asteroid coming that will destroy the earth…time to party! They break out the Bud Light [If all life were ending, I wouldn’t worry about the calories, but that’s just me], start drinking, dancing, making out with co-workers; hey, if life on earth is gonna end, may as well live it up! Then it turns out to be a tiny burning ember that bounces off lens of telescope, the earth is saved…party on Garth, party on wacky scientists, B+

Coke – “Poor Mr. Burns” –OK, anyone who uses the Simpson’s is golden in my book. Here Mr. Burns has become “another bankrupt billionaire” forced to sell off all his possessions…he’s miserable until he goes to the park and sees all the happy Springfielders drinking Coke. Taking pity on poor Burns, Apu gives him a Coke [very out of character, Apu never gave away anything for free in the Qwikee Mart] The Coke now cheers up the old man. Use of Simpson’s is very creative, but otherwise the same old “Coke saves the World” scenario. B

Go Daddy – Go Daddy has now officially “jumped the shark”. Danica Patric, out of her nascar and her clothes, is getting a massage. The masseuse asks, “Could I be a Go Daddy girl?” then gets ready to rip off her clothes to prove she’s got what it takes…at which point we’re told it’s too hot for TV and we have to go to their website to get teased more.
No happy ending here. D-

Doritos – In this spot, a guy fakes his funeral in order to lie in a casket full of Doritos to watch the Superbowl without being disturbed. When he gets over-excited and knocks over casket revealing the hoax, his buddy, who is in on the joke, jumps up and screams, “It’s a miracle!” B

BL – Weird cell phone talk. There’s a bunch of people all over talking weird on cell phones that has something to do with Bud Light…kids, it’s true, alcohol kills brain cells. D-

Monster.com – Beavers are looking for work, one wants to be a violinist, monster helps him find his true calling and become a concert violinist. He ends up in a hot tub with a hot blonde (I won’t make that joke, I won’t make that joke, I won’t make that joke). Monster.com is so good it can even find a beaver a job as a violinist. But why didn’t he gnaw on the violin? B+

Bridgestone – “The Hangover” without the humor. Crazy bachelor party guys have an orca in the back of their truck, I suppose it’s their great Bridgestone tires that let them stop short of the end of the pier and let the orca slide off into the sea. The only thing Bridgestone did worse than this was hire the Who to show just how old they are and how little singing strength they had during half-time. D

Sketchers – their new Shape-up shoes (they inflicted this on us twice). Usually one needs to watch TV at 3am or early Sunday morning to see this sort of infomercial crap. The only saving grace: it was :30 instead of 10 minutes as most infomercials are. These shoes have no soul. F

Cars.com – continuing a concept that was successful last year, we once again see a prodigy, Timothy, who always knew knowledge was the key. He saves his mom from a grease fire as an infant, rides his bicycle perfectly the first time, assists in the birth of a wild tiger…you get the idea, the guy isn’t George W. Bush. But when it comes to buying a car he feels as dumb as anyone else. That’s why he needs cars.com. Still clever concept that makes the point with humor. A

Bud – With a sensibility somewhere between Frank Capra and Blazing Saddles, a small town is told that the bridge is out and a truck of Bud is on the other side. Everyone in town rushes to help, literally forming a human bridge for the truck to cross. Now they’re all happily guzzling the King of Swill. Think what lengths they’d go to for a beer with actual taste! C+

Late Show – Letterman, Oprah & Jay Leno sit on a coach together eating chips and watching TV, Dave says, “This is the worst Superbowl party ever!” Oprah says, “Be nice”, Leno says, “He’s saying that cause I’m here”. Very cute. B

Career builder.com – Casual Friday. Not a new spot, but still funny. In this office casual Friday means everyone comes in their underwear. Our hapless hero realizes he’s gotta get outta this place. Careerbuilder can help. Funny and effective. B+

Dockers – OK, you will see in some of the spots to come, there is an undercurrent theme of masculinity, emasculation, wimpy-ness and male identity in several spots. Here we have a group of guys marching through a field in their underwear singing “I wear no pants” —sort of Monty Pythonesque –then the voice over informs them that it’s “time to wear the pants”. Thank God for Dockers; hiding beer guts all over America. B+ for sillyness.

Hyundai- True, cars are the worst ad category. Here an aged Bret Favre is accepting the MVP trophy for 2020, saying he may retire soon (playing off his on again, off again retirements). Hyundai assures us that no matter what the future holds, their cars will hold their value. Whoopee do! C+

BL – Survivors of a plane crash gather on the beach, one says she found the radio, we’ll be saved. Another guy says he found the beverage cart, they’ve got Bud Light. Now everyone is drinking and playing on the beach. One can only hope they run out of beer, become dehydrated and perish in the surf. D

Dove for Men – Here’s the male rites of passage, from fastest swimming sperm, to school and camping and marriage, all very fast, now that he has matured and is “comfortable in his own skin” he’s ready for Dove for men. Here’s a guy so secure in himself that he can use a soap that’s the same as regular Dove but the box says “for men” so it’s OK. B+

Dodge Charger – Ah, the male of the species, what doesn’t he have to put up with? We hear the thoughts of a series of forlorn men about all the good intentions they have and promises they are (forced) to make to their women…”I will be nice to your mother…I will put the seat down…”I will watch your vampire TV shows”…etc, etc. He will do all this as long as he can have his Dodge Charger (“please honey, pretty please, please let me have a Dodge!”) which we are told is “Man’s last stand”. These pathetic wretches have sold their souls for a car…and a Dodge at that! B+ for the spot, F for the guys.

Teleflora- this national floral service continues last year’s theme of “What are your flowers saying?” and cleverly impugning the message sent by flowers that come in a box…”cigarettes and dead people are in boxes”. The recipient’s co-workers suggest that maybe they’re from a guy she met in prison. A sympathetic co-worker says, “there are some nice guys in prison.” B

Papa John’s Pizza – Cheesy, but nothing to chew on. F

dr_pepper_kissDr. Pepper – To introduce Dr. Pepper with a “little kiss of cherry” they creatively employed not only the band Kiss, but a group of midget imitators, Little Kiss. Bravo to anyone brave enough to use midgets in a commercial —(hey, don’t call them “little people”. Children are little people; these are friggin midgets!) Very clever, very brave, and the LPA (Little People of America) can KISS my 5’10” ass. A

TruTV – Charming take-off on groundhog day where the city fathers pull Punxatawny Pallimalu (sp-that long haired football player) out of his hole, he sees his shadow, so there’s “6 more weeks of football.” Innovative. B

Flow TV- Poor whipped bastard is shopping with his girl, he’s in the lingerie dept (usually a fun place for guys, but he isn’t enjoying it) then carrying her bags, etc but the voice over tells him “Change out of that skirt, Jason.” Because now he can watch a tiny palm sized TV whenever he wants, which seems like a fair trade for one’s balls. B-

Intel – An Intel worker in the cafeteria is telling his co-workers how their new core processor is the “best thing we’ve ever made” while being waited on by a very futuristic robot. The more he waxes poetic about the new processor, the more the robot’s feelings are hurt, until he slinks away in despair. Poor robot, hopefully he doesn’t own Intel stock or he’d pull out his power supply. C-

Flo TV – To the soundtrack of the Who’s “My Generation” we see iconic images of television from I Love Lucy to the March on Washington, JFK assassination, etc. We are admonished “don’t miss a moment”. Wow, if I wasn’t watching TV, JFK might be alive today! C-

Acura – Some pretty woman, some artsy photography, pretentious question marks, this spot escaped from the film school short bus. Oh yeah, there’s also a car in it. D

Ford – that annoying Ford spokes-TEA party type is accosting people at gas stations to show them all the great new Fords. The cost of gas is bad enough without having to put up with a sales pitch too! But what the hell, since Ford didn’t take any bailout money, and actually made a profit, they can waste their cash anyway they want. F

Prudential- Has there ever been a clever use of Morse code since Lassie used it to save Timmy from being ground up in a sausage machine? Prudential thinks so. Obviously wouldn’t spring for the cash to use Sting’s “Sending out an SOS”. People are concerned about there pensions? Worried about retirement? Really? The marketing folks at Pru should be concerned for their jobs, putting out rot like this. More arenas, less Morse code, Rock boys. F

American Airlines – “Sleeper service” – not a new spot, but cute take on the film world. The lady producer has to deal with a crazy director (”Why does the squirrel hate me?”) changing locations between China and Paris and back at the drop of a hat. Fortunately, she can sleep comfortably on the airplane during international flights. B

Honda – Everyone has one or knows someone who does. How nice for them all. D

Motorolla- A beautiful woman is in the bath with her smart phone (a dirty phone is a terrible thing) and takes a picture of herself, “I wonder what would happen if I sent this?” she muses. We see the results, a man neglects holding the ladder for a friend while looking at it, a mom is banging on the door of her son’s room who is presumably looking at the photo and doing what boys do, a wife slaps her husband, a gay man slaps his partner, etc. We then return to the woman in tub saying, “No one would probably notice”.
Very clever spin on the usual “this phone will even wash your car” hype. A+

VW – Volkswagon proves that car spots are not destined to stink. Here we start out with people calling out the colors of VWs they see and slapping their friends as they do so. [For those of a certain age, this recalls counting the VW beetles on the road as an activity during a long road trip]. “There’s a red one, there’s a white one, there’s a green one…” in this way VW shows all their various models. What elevates this spot is the final scene with Stevie Wonder and Tracy Morgan. As the VW goes by, Stevie says, “There’s a red one” and Tracy, incredulous, says, “How you do that?” A

dennys-super-bowl-chickenDenny’s – Denny’s is having a breakfast special with lots of eggs, and they’ve spent lots of money on Superbowl ads to tell us. Fortunately, they’ve done so very creatively. The first spot focus on the chickens, CGI figures with a lot of personality in their faces (not easy if you’ve ever seen a real chicken, which has less personality than John Kerry) The voice over warns the chickens to “get outta town”, take a vacation, use sick days, say you have jury duty (priceless!) because Denny’s will need more eggs than ever. The tag line- “A great day to be an American, a bad day to be chicken” —not all that bad, after all, we’re talking about eggs, it’s not a KFC spot. A

Michelob Ultra – A bunch of active guys, not weighed down because they drink ultra-light beer. Wake me when it’s over. D

Home Away – Why go through the trauma of renting a hotel/motel room when you can rent someone else’s home? This spot cleverly re-unites Chevy Chase and Beverly DeAngelo from the National Lampoon Vacation series to demonstrate the hazards of hotels. Charming, and these two conjure up all the awful travel experiences one could possibly have just by appearing in this spot. If only Aunt Edna lived to see it. Hamburger Helper anyone? A-

Bridgestone – A group of futuristic villains out of “Mad Max” stop a car on the road. “Your tires or your life!” they demand, the driver pushes a very attractive woman out of the car and drives off. “Not your wife, your life” the distraught robbers shout back at him. For a tire spot, it’s pretty good. B

KGB – This search engine is really there for you when you need it. Let’s say you’re two really skinny guys who find themselves in the ring with a sumo wrestler (hey, it could happen) if you use KGB you’ll know right away how to say the right words in Japanese to get you out of trouble. If you use an inferior service, you might say “Bring it on, fat boy” instead, thus offending your honorable ancestors and turning yourself into sushi.
Domo arigato Mr. Roboto. B+

Coke – So a guy wakes up in a tent on the African savannah; he’s only half awake, he walks across and through dangerous animals until he gets to a coke machine, gets the bottle and walks back to his tent, petting a hyena as he sips his soda. Interesting, but a wee bit too much artificial sweetener in this one. C+

E Trade- Yeah, the babies are back, but they still work. This first spot is the best, a baby couple are talking to each other, obviously is 2 different locations (Skyping?) she says, “Why didn’t you call?” He tells her he’s like a wolf, busy making deals on E Trade, she says, “Is that milkaholic Lindsey over there?” He protests that he’s bust trading, being like a wolf..then Lindsey comes into camera range, “Who’s a milkaholic?” Great stuff A+

US Census – You have to hand it to the census bureau this year; there spots are actually memorable and clever, unusual in the public sector. Here we are at a pre-production meeting for a film about the census, called “Snapshot of America” (the tag line for 2010 census). The director is saying we can’t let anyone know about the secret location until the last minute. We’ll need 300 million people for this. Someone asks, “when can we let them know, so they can be there?” Amusing. B

Google – What a waste of money. Now your search engine can be a combination of eHarmony, Dear Abby and a travel agency. Why google, why? It’s not like you need name recognition. C-

KIA Sorrento – Weird creatures, sock puppets, robots riding in Sorrento having all sorts of adventures, touring, bowling…then we see that this was all the dreams of the actual toys sitting in the back seat of the Sorrento. Hey, save some of the kimchee with acid for me! B+

Bud – To the tunes of “Don’t bring me down” we find out that Bud Select 55 is the lightest beer, we see it float up to prove how light it is. It’s the only beer not subject to the law of gravity. Well, if I’m going to drink beer as bad as Bud, it may as well not pack on the pounds. D

Metro PCS – There’s absolutely nothing PC about this spot, which is why I love it. 2 Indian techies (stereotyped?) host a game show, the hapless contestant wants to know if he can get rid of his lousy service provider, one host starts screaming “there’s always a contract!” The other tells him he is now “like my uncle’s cow, chained to a pole and milked regularly” Only Metro PCS gives you service without a contract, and now the contestant is wearing a dunce cap while Indian women dance around him Bollywood style. Too cool! A+

Vizio – Robotic tranformeresque creatures grab people and things for no apparent reason, which also applies to this spot. SFX run amuck. Pointless drivel. D-

Emerald Nuts- This is Timothy Leary’s trip to Seaworld. Our Jacques Coustello says, “Let’s get aquatic”. Women trained like dolphins jump up in the water and “tail-walk” for Emerald nuts. Guys jump through hoops of fire for Pop-secret popcorn.Now that the two are together it is “awesomer”. So’s this spot. A

Bud – I knew it was too good to be true. We made it all the way to the 4th Quarter without a single Clydesdale. It couldn’t last…and didn’t. In this most recent edition of the equine Hallmark card we see a young bull enviously admiring the horses across the fence. Then 3 years later, as the swill pulling horses pull the beer wagon down the road, the full grown bull bursts through the fence to run alongside them. Maybe next year they can have the Clydesdale’s, and the drunken Bud drinkers run with the bulls at Pamplona; now that’s the kind of crazy bloody mess we’d like to see. F

Honda – A Disney-cute animated squirrel “squirrels” things away, the only place he can fit it all is in his Honda SUV. B for effort.

Denny’s – More chicken terror, chicken astronauts in space, chicken s in the oval office, complete with secret service chickens with black sunglasses and earpieces…boy, I never realized that laying eggs was so horrible to chickens. Shame on Denny’s, shame, shame. B+

green-policeAudi – “Green Police” – well, they’ve finally arrived. No matter where you turn the green police arrest people for using plastic bags, bottled water, Styrofoam cups, throwing batteries away, using water that’s too hot in the hot tub. Fortunately, your Audi won’t be confiscated by the green police. A dark vision too real to ignore. Step away from the Big Mac and grab some sprouts. A+

Taco Bell – Charles Barkley, a box for a buck, who cares? Aimed low and delivers. F

Doritos – More fun from the funniest chip on earth. A guy is eating Doritos that he stole from Tim’s locker. He offers them to a friend. No, the friend demurs, not “Tim’s locker!” We see Tim, a Dorito madman in a samurai suit made of Doritos. He uses one as a Chinese throwing star and stabs the chip pilferer in the neck. Best tasting weapon ever. A

BL – The girls are having their book club meeting and the guy of the house is about to go out. He sees they have Bud Light and sits down to join them. Soon his buddies have come over too, all sharing the brew. Finally, one book club member asks one of the guys, “So, do you like Little Women?” to which he replies, “Yeah, I’m not too picky.” B+

E Trade- Those babies again, this time a bunch of them are talking about the “pictures of his new car” that one of them has. The spokesbaby tells us we should take control of our finances with Etrade. In the end one baby says, “He’s eating lobster too!” A

superbowl_trophyGo Daddy – Danica Patric, “too hot for TV” tease. Go away Daddy, just go away. F

E Trade – In this final outing, our spokesbaby and his friend Mike, a few rows down, are taking the red-eye back from a bachelor party, they had a great time, and he was able to check his E Trade account. “E Trade saved me a pant load.” Gotta love it. A

– Jeffrey Antman has been in the Advertising business for 25 years.

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