At last night's Super Bowl, for many of us the big attraction was The Who playing the half time show. And The Who delivered, as they always do. Beyond The Who, however, for many of us the big draw is not the game itself, but the commercials that air during the games. Only the Oscars come close to matching the Super Bowl when it comes to commercials.
Sadly, I think this year's crops of adverts were a bit disappointing. The biggest problem is that some of the commercials were simply not very funny. Indeed, one of the biggest trends this year in Super Bowl commercials was "the stupid male." The Bud Light advert "Book Club" was one of the worst offenders, with a guy who apparently doesn't know Little Women was a novel. OF course, the other Bud Light commercials were not much better. Worse yet, a trend within the trend towards stupid males in Super Bowl adverts was that of scantily clad men. This is most obviously seen in the Dockers ad "Men Without Pants," and to a lesser degree in the Careerbuilder.Com ad "Casual Day." Okay, given the racy GoDaddy ads, I suppose turnabout is fair play. If Super Bowl commercials can feature scantily clad women, why not scantily clad men? The problem with this as I see it is that the scantily clad women in the commercials are all gorgeous, while the guys in the Dockers and Careerbuilder spots, well, were not good looking by any stretch of the imagination. Word of advice to advertisers, if you're going to have men in their briefs in your ads, at least make sure they're eye candy for the ladies!
Fortunately, there were some good commercials on the Super Bowl this year. Some of the best grew out of another trend in commercials, this one towards classic rock in ads. I suppose it may have been because The Who played the half time show, but a number of ads featured tunes from classic artists and even the artists themselves. Indeed, two of my all time favourite rock groups were represented in ads this year: The Who and Cheap Trick. If The Beatles had been included, it would have been all three of my favourite bands!
Among the commercials featuring classic rock was the Flo TV ad featuring a remix of The Who's "My Generation" featuring Will.I.Am and Slash. I like the remix (although not as much as the original), and it is available for download at The Who's official site. 100% of all proceeds go to Oxfam America’s Haiti Relief Efforts.
Audi's commercial "Green Police" is not only very funny, but features the talents of the legendary band Cheap Trick. The band remixed their classic hit "Dream Police" as "Green Police" for the advert, with very good results. The remix "Green Police" is available for download at Audi's Facebook page.
Another one of my favourite bands, Kiss, was also represented in an ad. Kiss has been the spokesmen for Dr. Pepper Cherry for a while, so naturally the soft drink featured the band in their Super Bowl commercial, along with some surprising guests...
Finally, the trailer for the game Dante's Inferno featured Bill Withers' classic of "Ain't No Sunshine When she's Gone." I think it was a great use of the song myself.
Of course, not every commercial featured songs from classic rock acts. In fact, as usual, most of the adverts focused more on humour than anything else. Perhaps the very best ad featured a superstar of another kind: Betty White. In the Snickers commercial "Betty White Plays Football," the greatest television comedienne of all time proves she can hold her own with the boys.
Google perhaps wins the prize for most ingenious advert. Using only the search engine itself and some specific searches, the Google spot "How to Impress a French Woman" proved that Super Bowl ads can be intelligent and funny. Remarkably, this is the first time the internet giant has ever advertised on the Super Bowl!
Doritos once more held their "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, in which amateurs submit their own commercials in hopes of a spot on the big game and big bucks. "Underdog" was the best of these ads, which proves that dogs are smarter than one thinks...
Kudos also go to Doritos' "House Rules" spot, in which a child puts his mother's suitor in his place (you can look that one up on YouTube or IFilm).
Humour wasn't the only feature in this year's ads. Budweiser, who seemed intent on offending the male sex with their Bud Light ads, had one of the best ads with "Fence." The ad features a friendship between a Clydesdale and an ox, that is very realistic to anyone who has grown up on a farm.
GoDaddy is known for their over the top commercials, with at least one banned each year (this year was no different, wit their spot "Lola" banned). Now I personally thought their ads this year were rather lame. They weren't particularly funny and brought nothing original to the table. I would not include one here save for the sad fact that I have a weakness for Danica Patrick. So sue me. This is their spot, "News."
For once the Super Bowl also featured trailers of movies I would actually like to see. Chief among was Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. This is a film to which I've looked forward ever since I saw the trailer in the theatre. Martin Scorsese does horror. I'm there. The other good trailers were to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and the remake of the Universal classic horror film, The Wolfman.
Of course, as I said earlier, I thought this year's crop of Super Bowl ads was disappointing. Indeed, beyond the stupid male ads, I found at least two ads downright offensive. While I know a good many people thought the spot for The Late Show featuring Dave Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, and Jay Leno was funny, as a Conan O'Brien fan I took it as a personal insult. And after his attacks on Leno, I am surprised Dave agreed to appear in the ad. Another ad was even more offensive. Personally, I think Focus on Family's anti-abortion ads featuring Tim Tebow had no place being on the Super Bowl. True, they were milder than many feared, but personally I think political ads have no place airing on the Super Bowl. I don't care if they are liberal, moderate, or conservative. The Super Bowl is a time for fun, not advancing agendas. Although I was not offended by them, I was horrified to see the E*Trade babies return for another Super Bowl. These spots are not funny, the babies are not cute, they are just downright creepy. I am honestly surprised they don't give me nightmares!
For those of you who are wondering, as usual, the advert embeds are courtesy of IFilm (although I think they have abandoned that name in favour of simply Spike, the cable channel which bought them a few years ago). You can see more of the Super Bowl commercials there.
While over all this year's Super Bowl ads were disappointing, I must say I am pleased with some of them. It is good to see classic rock prominently featured in some of them, as well as Betty White. If I have one hope for next year it is that we will see no more commercials featuring stupid (and worse yet, stupid and under dressed) men, no more political ads, and no more E*Trade babies during next year's Super Bowl!