Tuned In: Super Bowl ads largely disappoint

2nd-half blackout enlivens so-so night of commercials

With no team to cheer for in the Super Bowl, sometimes it really can be the commercials that are the draw. But the spots during this year's big game didn't leave viewers with much to discuss. Fortunately, the third-quarter blackout -- and the game itself -- should fill the void around workplace water coolers this morning.

This year's ads cost about $3.8 million per 30-second spot, and even with all that money it's unlikely a commercial from last night's Super Bowl XLVII will emerge to stand the test of time.

The usual trends -- animals, children, ads for big-budget movies -- continued and were joined by spots that encouraged viewers to: Vote for a sequel ad online (Coke), sign up online to get a free soft drink (Pepsi Next) and visit online promo sites (many, many ads). Viewers who don't watch TV while on the computer simultaneously surely felt left out.

Although viewers may disagree on the best ad during the Super Bowl, it seems likely Americans will come together to declare the Bud Black Crown ads the worst. The ads, set in a club with supposedly hip people -- "the loud, the savvy, the famous" -- made it look like anyone who consumes this beer will instantly be transformed into one of these pompous, poser jerks. Who wants that?

The Bud Light voodoo ads failed to entertain, too, but at least they got added attention on social media sites as some people humorously suggested New Orleans black magic was to blame for the third-quarter power outage.

Other ads and trends worth noting:

Ad we can't unsee: The first GoDaddy.com spot featured a supermodel making out with a nerd. It wasn't their uneven matchup that made the spot gross; it was the lingering close-up and sound effects. But it did inspire a terrific, creative parody by rival company Name.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7COq3QeE-Kw&feature=youtu.be

Best mashup: The Coke ad with different desert movie stars -- Lawrence of Arabia, cowboys, Mad Max, Priscilla Queen of the Desert -- showed them all racing toward a Coke sign that turned out to be a mirage.

Spots that seemed out of place: There were a few (did we really need an oily Calvin Klein underwear ad?) but the worst was a CBS promo for "2 Broke Girls," featuring the show's stars pole dancing. It surely annoyed some parents watching with their children.

Best use of classic rock: M&Ms ran a cute spot using Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" where the red M&M refused to go in an oven, enter a piñata or be licked by models.

Best use of emotional music/images (tie): Oprah Winfrey narrated an ad for Jeep and the USO that was about American troops coming home; touching without being sappy. Budweiser's annual Clydesdale commercial featured a trainer raising a horse and sending the horse on its way before reuniting with the horse three years later (to the tune of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide").

Old, young team for humor: Children formed a team after getting bullied in a Hyundai commercial and a squad of old people escaped their retirement home and went out partying, "Cocoon"-style, for Taco Bell.

Destruction abounds: A goat threatened its caretaker in a funny Doritos spot, Iron Man sought to save people sucked out of a depressurized Air Force One and Oreo fans destroyed a library in the name of proving which part of the cookie is superior.

But peace also made its case: A Coke commercial tried to flip the script on security cameras, showing CCTV feeds that pick up acts of kindness as opposed to criminal activity.

Best movie ads: The new "Star Trek" movie suggests the destruction of the USS Enterprise (again); "The Lone Ranger" leaned hard on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" connection as it tried to convince young Johnny Depp fans to shell out to see a western starring a character they may not have heard of before.

Most surprising movie ad: "Fast & the Furious 6." Was anyone else surprised to know they've made six of those movies at this point?

Best use of a celebrity: Amy Poehler terrorized a store clerk at Best Buy by asking, "Can I use a dongle with this? Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word dongle?"

Celebrity double take: Who knew Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson warranted two appearances in Super Bowl ads, one for the "Fast" movie and another for milk.

Celebrity double take two: Kaley Cuoco, one of the stars of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," appeared twice, in a Toyota commercial that was moderately amusing and a "Big Bang" promo that was shorter and funnier.

Early awareness promo: CBS hasn't filmed any of its new summer series, Stephen King's "Under the Dome," but the network ran a trailer anyway using generic images of a bucolic town sealed by a bubble. The spot directed viewers to underthedome.com. At the website viewers are instructed to enter their home address, which I did, but it took almost three minutes of the site blinking "locating" before it showed a dome descending on my neighbor's house rather than mine. Oops.

Played out: When a novelty hit appears in a commercial for pistachios, you know its 15 minutes are up: Good-bye, "Gangnam Style."

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TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook. First Published February 4, 2013 5:30 AM


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