Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl ads we loved and hated

Super Bowl commercials are an American institution. You know another American institution? Making snap, sweeping judgments on work others spent months and millions creating. We're combining both right here, with quick-hit takes on the best (and the worst, can't forget the worst) ads of Super Bowl XLVII. Winners, losers and full video ... you'll get it all right here. Here is a sampling of the commercials, followed by our winners and losers:


Budweiser, "Brotherhood"

Plot: Guy raises horse from ponyhood, horse goes on to be a Clydesdale, horse spots former owner years later ... sorry, it's a little dusty in here ...
Verdict: OH COME ON. Are you kidding me? Super Bowl commercials aren't supposed to make you cry! They're supposed to make you laugh or cringe or go reload your plate. This? This ad makes you want to call your parents, hug your kids, and maybe just buy a horse. Flat-out winner out of the gate. Going to be a lot of people dabbing their eyes with cocktail napkins when this one airs.

The NFL, "Leon Sandcastle"

Plot: Deion Sanders decides he wants back in the League, and dresses up as "Leon Sandcastle."
Verdict: Putting aside the fact that if Deion Sanders still had game there'd be no need for a "Leon" (reality! boooo!) this was a fun goof, and we foresee a future character showing up in NFL ads for awhile.

Jeep, "Whole Again"

Plot: We've still got people fighting overseas, you know.
Verdict: It's always a little sleazy when a company yokes itself to patriotism to push product, but the message here overwhelms any buy-our-vehicles shill.

Dodge Ram, "Farmer"

Plot: Talking about how awesome farmers are. That's it.
Verdict: Probably the most effective ad of the night, even if most of America doesn't even know a real farmer.

Samsung, "The Next Big Thing"

Plot: How do you talk about the Super Bowl without talking about the Super Bowl?
Verdict: Between Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Bob Odenkirk in full Saul Goodman/"Breaking Bad" mode, this is the best cast of the entire Super Bowl. (Big Game, whatever.) Best repartee of the night.

Hyundai, "Epic Playdate with the Flaming Lips"

Plot: A family, with the help of the Flaming Lips, has the greatest play-day ever.
Verdict: The presence of the alt-rock darling Lips in a Super Bowl commercial is nothing short of amazing. Sellouts? Nah, that word has no meaning anymore. The ad's good wholesome fun, too.

Mercedes, "Soul"

Plot: Willem Dafoe, as the devil, offers a guy a Mercedes in exchange for his soul as the Rolling Stones sing in the background.
Verdict: Guy decides his soul's worth more than $29,900. Ah, but you haven't factored in the finance charges, guy.

Tide, "Miracle Stain"

Plot: A 49ers fan finds a miraculous Joe Montana stain on his jersey ... too bad his wife's a Ravens fan.
Verdict: The platonic ideal of a Super Bowl ad: catchy premise, wacky hijinks, solid punchline. Winner.

Iron Man 3 trailer

Plot: It's Iron Man 3. You know what you're getting.
Verdict: You're going to see it. You know it. Plus, you've gotta love the "Extended Look" preview there.

Best Buy, "Asking Amy"
Plot: Amy Poehler asks an awful lot of questions. Best Buy has the answers for all of 'em.
Verdict: Poehler, as always, carries the day here. Hopefully Best Buy will still be around come next year's Super Bowl.

Toyota, "Wish Granted"

Plot: A genie (Kaley Cuoco) pops out of a new Toyota (wait, what?) and starts granting wishes. Just go with it.
Rapid-fire cutesy-ness designed to sling jokes at you so fast you don't think too hard about any one of 'em. Also, HA HA THE DAD IS SO DANG STUPID. Don't see that routine played often. Times is tough for white male heads of households, y'all.

GoDaddy, ""

Plot: Got a good idea for a website? Don't wait.
A GoDaddy ad among the winners? I know, we're as surprised as you are. But as crass as the company's ads usually are, this one's pretty clever. Sit around and talk about your big idea, and somebody else will be doing it. I like Nouveau Riche Dude's catchphrase ("More everything, sky waitress!" is the Austin Powers "Yeah, baby!" of the next 12 hours), but I'm a little concerned about his choice of Danica Patrick as a pilot.

Star Trek Into Darkness trailer

Plot: There's gonna be a new Star Trek movie this summer. This is what's known as a "preview," or, in Hollywood-speak, a "trailer."
Verdict: This bears about as much resemblance to the original William Shatner/Beam me up, Scotty "Star Trek" as a goat does to a draft beer. Gotta love the upping-the-ante apocalypse, though. At some point, movies will consist of nothing but gigantic things smashing into the earth and BRRAAAAANNNNNGGG sound effects. And we'll still go watch.

Doritos, "Goat 4 Sale"

Plot: Dude buys goat, gives goat Doritos, goat freaks out when Doritos are gone. As goats do.
Verdict: Apparently Doritos are more addictive than gambling multiplied by heroin, and not just for people. Also, that screaming goat will haunt your dreams.


GoDaddy, "Sexy Meets Smart"

Plot: Bar Refaeli makes out with compu-geek to demonstrate GoDaddy's Sexy/Smart dynamic.
Verdict: Your senses are assaulted by three inputs: the beauty of Bar Refaeli, the splotchy cheeks of compu-geek, and the horrifying sounds of their kissing. Two of three, in this case, are VERY bad.

Budweiser Black Crown: "Coronation"

Plot: It's new beer. From Budweiser. You know, that nimble little company known for its innovation.
Verdict: Again: IT'S NEW BEER. FROM BUDWEISER. Unless this beer actually foams dollar bills and/or gasoline, neither of which seem likely or even particularly healthy, it's nothing new. Stop acting like this is some big deal, Budweiser. You know everybody's going to drink it anyway.

Audi, "Prom"

Plot: Nerdy kid gets a spine, plus a black eye and possible concussion, when dad loans him the Audi S6 for prom night.
Verdict: This is the epitome of a Super Bowl commercial: a ton of money spent on a never-in-a-million-years premise with some goofy moral lesson attached. Audi: because we're all nerds at heart. (Plus, how old are the kids at this high school?)

Hyundai, "Team"

Plot: Bullied kid recruits a team of pint-size tough guys to play football.
Verdict: Your mother's going to think this one is so cute. I was hoping the kid was going to recruit Ray Lewis and Bernard Pollard.

Pepsi Next, "Party"

Plot: Parents walk in on you having a party? Wipe their minds with Pepsi NEXT!
Verdict: Pepsi commercials always feel as processed as cheese in a can, like some focus-grouped mass-market version of what an edgy commercial should be. Can't imagine why that would be.

Oreo, "Cream or Cookie"

Plot: A library discussion about the relative merits of Oreo's cookies or cream escalates into violence, but everybody keeps whispering.
Verdict: The world of Super Bowl commercials is one seriously violent place. People causing horrific bodily injury over cookies? That's not a world I want to live in, friends. Plus, you're not supposed to eat in the library anyway.

Hyundai, "Stuck"

Plot: There's a lot of nasty stuff on the road. Stay ahead of it.
Verdict: Hope you weren't too deep into the salsa when that plumber's crack/horse's butt combo hit your screen. Good choice, Hyundai!

Coca-Cola, "Mirage"

Plot: Everybody in the desert wants a Coke ... but it's a cruel trick!
Verdict: It's like that old '70s movie "Cannonball Run," only lame and without Burt Reynolds. This is an audience-participation deal, so they'll show the "winner" at the end of the game after we've all voted. (I say the cycle ought to win.) And if there's not a twist with R2-D2 and C-3PO getting it, I'll never believe another thing a Super Bowl ad tells me.

Volkswagen, "Get In. Get Happy."

Plot: Wacky-Voice Office Guy with fake-Jamaica accent makes everybody happy!
Verdict: No. No no no. There is no reason whatsoever to reward the behavior of Wacky-Voice Office Guy. Swift termination is the only answer, mon.

Doritos, "Fashionista Daddy"

Plot: Bros dress as princesses to get at some of those sweet, sweet Doritos.
Verdict: Doritos has truly awe-inspiring mind-altering properties. Either that, or these guys need to get into rehab, pronto.

Taco Bell, "Viva Young"

Plot: Old folks actin' crazy, eatin' Taco Bell!
Verdict: Aside from the fact that there seems to be at least one step left out of this progression from partying to eating Taco Bell on the hood of your car, the "old folks acting young" was old when these people were young. Points for the sicko element of old guy nipple on window, though.

Century 21, "Wedding"

Plot: Groom faints at the thought of marrying his bride's entire family. Century 21 to the rescue. No, we don't get it either.
Verdict: Trying WAY too hard.

e*Trade, "Save It"

Plot: Baby saves on brokerage fees, blows it on stuff like hot tubs with a panda.
Verdict: The e*Trade baby isn't exactly cutting edge at this point.

Axe Apollo, "Lifeguard"

Plot: Lifeguard beats up shark, but can't compare to an astronaut.
Verdict: This is apparently part of a campaign to make you a real-live astronaut. If you trust a fragrance company to send you into space, and more importantly bring you back, hey, more power to you.

Speed Stick, "Unattended Laundry"

Plot: Guy grabs girl's unmentionables. (Laundry, freaks.) "Hilarity" allegedly ensues.
Verdict: "Good news, creatives! We bought a Super Bowl spot! We need an ad that'll knock the world on its butt!" "But...but the Super Bowl's in 36 hours-" "ON ITS BUTT."

Mio, "Change"

Plot: Tracy Morgan channels his inner George Patton to talk about a new sports drink.
Verdict: Super Bowl ad space costs a ton, and so do celebrity endorsers. But it might be a good idea to save a couple bucks for writers. They don't cost much.

Kia, "Respect the Tech"

Plot: Dude checks out a Kia, and finds that a lifelike robot (which you find in all auto showrooms, of course) doesn't take kindly to him kicking the tires.
Verdict: We're closer than ever to the machines taking over, Terminator-style, aren't we?

Gildan, "Favorite T-shirt"

Plot: Guy awakens after freaky one-night stand and tries to get his t-shirt off his still-sleeping conquest.
Verdict: We're about six years from having a Janet Jackson moment as an actual filmed scripted commercial, aren't we?

Wonderful Pistachios, "Crackin' Gangnam Style"

Plot: Gangnam Style rises from the grave.
Verdict: "Heeeeyyyy ... crack your nuts now." If you thought that was clever, it might be time to get out a little more.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

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