Ads, that is. Specifically, Super Bowl ads. This year’s crop was mostly lackluster and seemed to involve much more violence than years past – although one of my favorites from previous years is the FedEx ad where the caveman kicks some poor prehistoric creature and then gets stomped on by something much, much larger.
This year, though, a year of difficult economics and ongoing wars in faraway places, seemed to bring out the brute in the advertisers. I watched most of them though, because they were about as interesting as the first three quarters of the game. A couple, in fact, were more interesting than the game through those first three quarters.
Bud Light wants us to know that suggesting not buying the beer for a company meeting in order to cut costs will get you shoved out a second or third story window by your peers. I wish someone had brought the beer to meetings when I was in the corporate world. As it stands, we (geeks) only got pizza and caffeine. C+
Angels and Demons (movie trailer): Snooze. I’m not a fan of Dan Brown’s writing at all. At least Tom Hanks has a decent haircut for this one, unlike that mop he had for The DaVinci Code. D.
Audi: The Transporter makes his getaway through the years, in various models from Audi. Who among us of my age or older doesn’t remember the preppy dorks with the sweaters tied at the sleeves around their necks, holding that monster of a cellphone? Just a fun ad. A.
Cheetos: Get rid of annoying, self-important bitches by throwing Cheetos on the ground under her and causing pigeons to swarm en masse, a la The Birds. I’d rather eat Cheetos myself, but hey, whatever works. B+.
Pepsi: Bob Dylan and will.i.am team up for “Forever Young”, to remind people even older than me that they can still be hip and drink Pepsi. When I drank sodas, I preferred Coke over Pepsi. B-.
Doritos: A snowglobe subs as a Magic 8 Ball, telling us there will be free Doritos (when someone flings the globe at a vending machine) but alas, no raise (courtesy of someone flinging the globe into the nads of the boss). Workplaces are a bit macabre this year. B.
Budweiser: Conan O’Brien is assured that the ad he finally agrees to do will only be shown in Sweden. Not counting the splash it makes across Times Square. Meh, although the 80s retro-Swedish thing they had going for “drinkability” was mildly amusing. B.
Year One (movie trailer): At first, I thought someone was remaking History of the World, Part One. Instead, it’s Jack Black and Michael Cera at the dawn of mankind. The trailer shows exactly the sort of humor one would expect, and I doubt anyone will be going looking for the answers to the meaning of life or even the sort of sly comedy that can be found in this movie’s doppelganger (then again, it’s hard to do snarky comedy as well as Mel Brooks does). B-.
Toyota: Venza? No. D.
Bridgestone: Mrs. Potatohead yammering at Mr. Potatohead, cutesy comedic moment (“Sheeeeeeeeep!”), she loses her lips, they bounce away, still talking, she puts on her angry eyes, he smiles, they drive away. With all the violence in the ads, I halfway expected them to slam into the back of a wire mesh something or other and have one of them made into french fries. I suppose that wouldn’t have been a good ad for a tire company. C-.
Fast and Furious (movie trailer): I love how they leave the number off the end of this. It’s number four, as it happens, but who’s counting? Fast cars, explosions, hot women. I saw a previous trailer of this movie that basically tells the entire movie – something I’ve always wondered about, since what’s the point of going to the show if you can tell what happens from the trailer? Anyway, we know this will make a lot of money, but why buy ad time on one of the most expensive nights to run ads for something that’s a lock? B-.
Castrol: Buying this motor oil will make monkeys suddenly fly out of your butt. No, not really. They’ll just show up at your house to work on your car – get it? grease monkeys! – and then you’ll kiss one. B.
Land of the Lost (movie trailer): Will Ferrell ruins one of my favorite childhood shows, campy as it was. Thanks a lot, Hollywood. B-.
Doritos: It’s magic, but apparently (and obviously) targeted for the manly, heterosexual men who watch football. Women drop their clothes, you get rich, cops dissolve like the Wicked Witch of the West, all due to the magic chips in a Doritos bag. Until you run out. Then you get hit by a bus and stick there like a fly that went splat. D.
Sprint: It’s been a long time since I’ve flown anywhere, and it will be a long time before I fly again, because of the nightmare that is air travel these days. If roadies ran the show, though, I might be inclined to change my mind. This and the Callahan ad from Sprint are both good. B+.
Monsters versus Aliens (movie trailer): One of the 3D ads, for which none of us had glasses. Bummer. No one in this house had goggles courtesy of any alcohol haze, either. C.
GoDaddy: GoDaddy ads suck, in my opinion, and always have. Don’t like the founder, don’t like their sleazy ads, including this one where geeks put naked women in the shower, via their computer. They must be paying Danica Patrick a racecar full of money. F.
Frosted Flakes: After your kid eats a bowl of sugar, send them out to the fields we’re building to run off their temporary energy. Or something to that effect. D-.
Heineken: John Turturro waxing philosophical does not make me want to drink your beer, especially when he sounds like some people I know when they’ve had a few over their limit. C-.
Pepsi: One of the better ads during the evening. Bowling ball dropped on the noggin? “I’m good.” Socked in the face with a golf club? “I’m good.” And so on. Amusing physical comedy, with a reminder that you can be a man, take whatever knocks life doles out, and still drink a Pepsi (or a diet Pepsi). A-.
Pedigree: Another good ad, showing the dangers of having pets other than dogs – like a rhino, an ostrich, or a warthog. Picking up warthog poo would definitely be a job for Mike Rowe. A.
Budwesier: The first of three ads featuring the Clydesdale horses. The dalmation (we saw him previously in the Rocky-esque ads) fetches a stick, gets an atta-boy. The Clydesdale fetches a huge branch from a tree. I think I’d have preferred something else. A canoe, a beer wagon, or a small car. Harmless ad, but dull. C.
Budwesier: Third generation Clydesdale, speaking with a Scottish brogue. C+.
NBC: Heroes. Never got into it, don’t watch it. Probably never will. B-.
Budweiser: The other Clydesdale ad, featuring the love of the Clydesdale’s life, who is regrettably in the circus and taken away. He breaks away, tracks her down, she flips the circus performer off her back, and they run away together. Better than the other ad. B.
Star Trek (movie trailer): After the Star Wars films, one of the the most anticipated movies, and this trailer was the best you could do? C-.
Gatorade: The finale to those “G” commercials that have been on. G stands for Gatorade. Who would have guessed that, what with all the athletes talking about performance? B-.
Race to Witch Mountain (movie trailer): The Rock protects two kids. Or are they? C-.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (movie trailer): There are robots and explosions. And stuff. B-.
Toyota: If you ever have to drive through the fifth circle of hell – also known as August here – apparently the Tundra can take it. I did mention to my family, though, that the use of the word “tranny” was probably going to cause some folks to think of something other than what they intended. C.
Priceline: Shatner does his schtick. B-.
Overstock.com: Carlos Boozer, bling, and a bunch of kids. Boring. C-.
Universal Orlando: Be a hero, take your family to an amusement park. B.
Coke: Everyone’s an avatar in this day and age. Until they have a Coke, allowing them to just be regular people again. B-.
Pepsi: Pepsuber. Pepstupid is more like it. D.
Bud Light: The lime in the beer will cocoon you in a bubble of spring. Most people I know who drink a lot already have a cocoon about them that really doesn’t need any enhancement. C-.
CareerBuilder: Repetition. Then add an element. Repetition. Then add an element. Then add another element. Repetition. And so on. I know some people hate that sort of ad, but it’s effective here because it does really give the flavor of some of the dullest jobs I’ve ever held. A-.
Bridgestone: People will steal your tires when you buy them from us, even on the moon. Odd. C.
Cars.com: You may be the most confident person in the world, able to perform open heart surgery with a ballpoint pen from a bystander and tell the dean of a prestigious school that his job is yours, but you still can’t buy a car without the butterflies acting up in your stomach. B.
Hyundai: Bunch of bosses angry at their people because Hyundai won an award. B.
E*Trade: The talking baby creeps me out in these ads, just like it did in the Quiznos ads. B-.
Pixar (movie trailer): A flight of fancy, literally, for the movie Up. B+.
Denny’s: Because even hit men need to eat. D-.
Monster.com: Sometimes you get the moose head mounted on your office wall, and sometimes you get the ass end standing on your desk. B-.
GoDaddy: Another sucktastic ad. F.
Bud Light: Drinkability, this time in English, with obstacles drawn in to trip up unsuspecting people skiing down a very large mountain. C.
H&R Block: They do your taxes, then send Death after the bum who missed those extra deductions for you. C.
Teleflora: Talking flowers that rank right up there with the Tide talking stain. C-.
Monster.com: Not really an ad, but an invitation to a contest involving the NFL. C-.
SoBe Lifewater: Another 3D ad, with Ray Lewis, and two other guys it took me a few minutes to place (Matt Light and Justin Tuck) in a ballet with lizards, performing Swan – excuse me, Lizard Lake. Amusing. B.
Coke Zero: Troy Polamalu does a takeoff on the original Mean Joe Greene Coke ad from 30 years ago. Even though I doubt many of the younger folks have seen the original or know what it’s about, the spot is amusing on its own. B+.
Cash4Gold.com: Ed McMahon and MC Hammer sell off their bling to pay the bills. B+.
Vizio: “You’re an idiot becuse you didn’t buy our television”. D.
Taco Bell: Creepy stalker guy wants to fast track a relationship with a woman he just met. D.
Hulu.com: Alec Baldwin at his snarkiest. Yes, it is an evil plot to destroy the world. At least they’re up front about it. A.
Coke: The bugs are after the sugary essence that is Coke, and band together to heist a bottle from a sleepy guy on a picnic. Beautiful effect of butterflies breaking apart and flying away after impersonating the bottle at his hand. A.
I made more notes than I thought. While we’re on the subject of ads, though, a couple of items also come to mind. Those new Geico ads with the eyeballs on top of the stack of money? Don’t like them. And speaking of Geico, there’s one thing that’s bugged me for a long time about the Caveman versus Billie Jean King spot (BJK looks good for her age, too): why does he believe he’s winning the match? Was there something left on the cutting room floor from the beginning that we missed? Or are we supposed to just assume he is either an idiot living in his own fantasty world or that Geico has rigged everything against him because they’re the sponsor?