This article first appeared at TheLoop21.com. Read it here at: “Super Bowl Commercials Entertain, Offend, Disgust.”
While the Super Bowl is for the fans — over-produced, expensive, flashy, crazy, gross, sexist and mind-numbingly amazing TV commercials are for everybody. Especially when the game isn’t going in your favor.
For example: most of the Super Bowls in the 1980s and 90s were pretty terrible.
Every year it was another blowout, as some NFC team, probably the Cowboys or 49ers blew away some hapless squad from the AFC, more likely than not the Buffalo Bills. Somewhere in that time advertisers realized that if the game itself wasn’t worth watching you could at least entertain people more with very elaborate commercials.
Considering that this year’s Super Bowl was terrible to watch, helped in large part by the Steelers putting up more turnovers than a pastry chef, the ads should have been the only saving grace of the entire five hour extravaganza. This year, there were some good ones, some mediocre ads and some ads that give you that deep down epic fail, WTF feeling. And since the NFL doesn’t own the exclusive rights to giving out awards (at least not yet) we at TheLoop21 will hand out awards for best, worst and WTF commercials of the Super Bowl.
Best of Show
“Most Valuable Pandering to Generation X Award” goes to “NFL Best Fans Ever,” the commercial featuring cast members from some of our favorite sitcoms getting ready to watch their teams. The spot featured iconic characters like The Fonz, Seinfeld, Luke and Bo Duke, the cast of Friends and others wearing the colors and jerseys of their character’s favorite teams. I can’t tell you how many trivia nights I’ve been to where they ask questions on where certain shows took place, so this was an extra surprise. I’d totally forgotten Hazard County was in Georgia, now I know where I can get dynamite arrows for cheap. Nice touch adding the Family Matterscast as well.
“Most Hilarious but Strangely Inappropriate Award” goes to “Healing Chips” from Doritos. I actually had to watch this ad twice to make sure they were actually doing what the heck I thought they were doing as it featured a lazy roommate bringing a dead fish, dead plant and the cremated remains of a grandfather back to life with dust from Doritos’ chip crumbs. It’s nice to see some irreverent commercials from time to time, and “Two wacky roommates” never gets old in Super Bowl commercials.
Rounding out the “Best” list with the “Ad that Best Represents Something We’ve All Wanted to Do” is Bridgestone’s “Reply All.” Not only has everyone accidentally sent a “Reply all” instead of “Reply” email at some point in the last 20 years, everyone has wondered how they’re going to stop that email before it gets opened.
In this commercial the guy went form slapping laptops out of co-workers’ hands to dumping coffee on keyborads. By the time the guy was running into the forest to knock an iPhone out of his manager’s hand my whole Super Bowl party was in an uproar.
Thanks for Participating
A Super Bowl ad is supposed to make me want to see your movie, buy your product or support your cause. If it fails in any of those categories, or I spent the first 10 seconds trying to figure out what you’re actually selling you’ve already messed up.
The “I Get What You’re Doing But It Just Doesn’t Hold Up” Award is given to the only two ads in the Super Bowl to acknowledge the recession, “Eminem’s Detroit” and BMW’s “Built in America.”
I get it, I understand that Detroit is supposed to be our proud rust-belt moment and South Carolina is full of “Real Americans” too. But a gospel choir singing to a surly looking Eminem as he walks into what appears to be a Catholic Church-meets-a-Gothic-Fox-Movie-Theater-from-the-1930s like he’s White Jesus just didn’t sit well with me. Nor did it make me want to buy a Chrysler.
The same applies to the Volkswagan Passat ad “The Force,” which gets the award for “Too Cute for Your Own Good.” The kid running around as mini-Anakin or even Chad Vader as a child was funny, and adorable and reminds me of my own childhood. But I swear I had no idea what they were selling me for this ad, and even at the end, it doesn’t move Passats. If anything, now I want to make sure I get the new Trilogy on Blue Ray.
Absolute Fail: Because someone clearly needs to lose their job after spending millions of dollars on ads like this.
The “Didn’t the California Raisins get old 20 years ago?” Award goes to The Brisk Tea ad featuring Eminem. First, it’s 2011, not 2002 — why am I getting two Eminem ads in one Super Bowl? Plus the ad itself just looks creepy, like the PJ’s mixed with Wallace and Grommit. I understand that Brisk has been doing the claymation thing for years but the ad hit all the wrong notes, culturally, memory-wise and racially.
The “I Know They’re Going to Call It A SATIRE Instead of Racist/Howard Stern Commemorative Award” goes to Groupon’s “Save the Money” ad. The ad, which presents itself initially as an awareness commercial for the plight of the people of Tibet, turns into a crass “First World Problems” promo of how you can use Groupon to save money on Tibetian food. Arguing that you should “save the money” rather than, say, Tibet. There are REAL problems happening in Tibet, real threats they face and the violence that country has faced at the hands of China is no laughing matter.
They’ll be in full explanation mode by the end of the day but they clearly were getting their marketing advice from Kenneth Cole. Future hint, when you’re trying to be politically snarky save it for a topic that doesn’t involved thousands of people being killed or jailed by a rival superpower.
Finally the “Epic Racial Fail of WTF Proportions Award” goes to the Pepsi Max “Love Hurts” commercial. From an angry mean spirited black woman to a weak-willed black man to jungle lust for scrawny white women, there is just about nothing in this ad that doesn’t offend or annoy anyone watching it. I can attest to receiving two text messages right after this ad from people I know with variations of “WTF” or “Oh No they di’int” in various dialects. The commercial quickly descends from funny to annoying as the black wife moves from being hyper concerned about her hubby’s eating habits to downright mean. By the time he’s cheesing at some white jogger who looks to be about 15 years old I was through. What gives this ad the epic fail award over “Groupon” is that everyone in America KNOWS this is replete with racist stereotypes whereas in Groupon’s case half the viewing audience probably thinks Tibet is a made up country. If it weren’t for Omar Epp’s twin brother coaching his butt off to make amends for Ben Roethlisberger’s poor play, the night might’ve been a total fail for black people.