Monday, February 04, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Super Bowl Ads (2013) **

NR, several 30-90 sec. ea.
Directors: various
Writers: various
Starring: M&Ms, Clydesdales, a goat, farmers, Naya Rivera, Danica Patric, Bar Rafaeli, Amy Poehler, Dwayne Johnson, The Flaming Lips, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Willem Defoe, Matthew Terry, Benedict Cumberbatch

Last year I was in no condition to review the Super Bowl ads. With my Big Blue in the big game, I didn’t really have the room for their distraction. Once it was all over, I was so elated every commercial seemed like the best I had ever seen, because it came along with the Giants’ fourth Super Bowl victory. Did it really matter if they were any good?

This year, with nothing at steak in the game, I came mostly for the commercials. By the end of the game, however, I had stayed for the game. I wasn’t really all that impressed with the commercials this year. In fact, the Super Bowl commercial quality seems to have diminished slowly over the past decade. There never seem to be any iconic ones anymore. There aren’t any Spud McKenzies anymore. There are no more Budweiser Frogs. Gone are the Mean Joe Greens. The E-Trade baby has gotten old, and the Clydesdales are still swinging, but no longer hold the same magic.

The evening started off with the “World War Z” trailer, which didn’t really reveal much new about the movie. Then there was the Hyundai commercial featuring The Flaming Lips while a family errand turns into an epic playdate. That one didn’t have enough of the Flaming Lips if you ask me, but I liked how it led into the game.

As usual, Go lowered the bar for everyone with its tasteless and nauseating sound effects. The new M&M commercial finally went into areas begged to be questioned when food is personified. As the red M&M was being tossed into a stove and later licked and bitten by beautiful women, I had to wonder exactly how torturing helpless personified candy helps to sell it. Will The Walking Dead M&M be the next big Facebook meme?

Time Warner’s Walking Dead commercial was good; however, it needed more Daryl. I also liked Amy Poehler’s Best Buy commercial, mostly because Poehler rocks! “Which one is the most vibratiest?” Didn’t anyone tell them that they’re supposed to be going out of business by the end of the year? Perhaps they felt spending $4 million plus on a commercial would help speed things along.

The fan made Doritos commercials were clever and funny as usual, but nothing iconic. The surveillance camera Coke spot was a nice positive turn, as opposed to the often deprecating tone of many commercials today, but still, it isn’t going to teach the world to sing or anything.

I’m a huge Dwayne Johnson fan. He doesn’t often make great movies, but he’s a great positive role model, and I liked his Milk spot a lot. As a parent, you know that getting the milk is more important than preventing world annihilation any day. Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd had a good Samsung spot. They were well utilized for their talents, being allowed to riff much like Poehler did in her ad. Will Ferrell also had an ad that wasn’t seen nationally for his series of Old Milwaukee Beer commercials. It’s worth seeking out. I like the way he plays on the stereotypes of what people think they find romantic and attractive. Willem Defoe’s turn as the devil in the underwhelming Mercedes reveal, however, was a waste of talent.

It seemed that the most powerful commercials this year were those of the more serious nature. Everybody said they cried at the new Budweiser Clydesdale commercial. Depicting a man who raises a Clydesdale that goes away to be one of the Budweiser’s, who has a reunion with the horse on the streets of Chicago, provided a typically good spot for the beer brewer. I don’t know, though, it seemed a little too emotionally predictable for them. Why can’t the horses just pull the wagon anymore? The funny Clydesdales worked better, because it’s a beer company. I mean, really! They make beer, and you’re crying? C’mon.

Now, Dodge’s use of Paul Harvey’s voice to praise the American famer was pretty special. It’s hard to knock that one for what it had to say, and since the truck is so integral to the farmer, you can’t really knock the product connection either. I also liked the prom spot for Audi. It wasn’t so emotional, but it hit the nail on the head when it came to depicting a pretty cool move by the kid who goes to prom by himself. Did he need to be driving an Audi? Perhaps a beat up Gremlin would’ve made it a little more authentic. But then, the makers of the Gremlin were never anywhere near affording a Super Bowl ad.

So, after all of the product spots, all you have left are the movie trailers. Like “World War Z”, the “Oz, the Great and Powerful” spot didn’t seem to reveal much I hadn’t seen before. “Fast & Furious 6” looks like a “Fast & Furious” movie. How confusing can their title lineage get though? Wasn’t “Fast & Furious” the fourth movie? Once you go to “Fast Five” can you really turn back and start adding words back in? Only the new “Iron Man 3” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” spots showed us anything we hadn’t seen before, and I say that having never seen an ad for that “Furious Six” film until last night. And what juicy glimpses they did give us. We saw a little more of the Cumberbatch this time around, and that Tony Stark sure has a dilemma on his hands.

There were a bunch of others. Some were good; most were blah. The movies are always my favorites. No surprise there.

Here's the Will Ferrell Old Milwaukee spot.

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