Super Bowl XLII was one of the rare contests where the game was better than the ads. Uplifting arc: triumph of the underdog. Suspenseful plot: the outcome in doubt until the final seconds. Karmic Justice: comeuppance to a team that may have been unfairly aided by videos with such disruptive potential that the NFL felt compelled to borrow from the CIA playbook and destroy them. Great Play: From the opening, near ten-minute drive putting the Giants on the scoreboard first, to Manning's improbable escape from a near-sack to deliver a 32-yard pass to the vicinity of David Tyree who defied physics to snare it and hold it pinned to his helmet, and the even more improbable ability of the Giants defense to neutralize Brady's brilliance.
But I'm not here to talk about the game.
Coke had one of the best of the heart-warmers, featuring Macy's Parade beloved character balloons breaking their tethers to pursue a Coke balloon. (Spoiler alert: It might have been on-brand for Coke, but isn't it off-brand for Charlie Brown to actually win?) If only Coke had stopped there. Instead they shoveled a few more millions over to Rupert and followed up with one of the worst ads for the game, featuring two of the most unloved, repellant characters in politics (Carville and Frist) in a cliche-filled romp through Washington D.C. "Have a Coke and a retch." You gotta know when to get off the stage.
A couple of sponsors tried to buy our love by doing good. Badly.
Pepsi did a spot to honor the deaf. It was broadcast in silence, rendering it totally inaccessible to the blind. High-consciousness by a pandering soft drink company.
Dell tried to buy cool by supporting (though not mentioning) the elimination of AIDS in Africa. A guy walks through town getting butt-slapped, oggled, tousled, touched, mobbed, cheered and kissed because he carries a Dell notebook branded with (PRODUCT) RED. This is some high-minded town. In my town, I'll bet most people have no idea that (PRODUCT) RED is Bono's co-branding foundation for raising money to fight AIDS in Africa. And they certainly didn't learn that from this spot. All the spot offers up is a mysterious: "Buy Dell, Join (RED). Save Lives." (If you visit Dell's website—or if you saw the announcement at Davos—you'll know that this (RED) series is actually co-branded by Dell and Microsoft Vista. Microsoft, apparently, didn't chip in for the spot. Saving their pennies to buy Yahoo!?)
Anheiser Bush, as usual, dominated the ad buys with strong spots. But this year, all but one were sadistic Bud Light laff riots. The remaining one was the obligatory heart-warming Clydesdale branding spot for Budweiser.
Too many spots, however, were brand forgettable. There were cute dancing lizards promoting something or other. A talking baby bought stocks on a computer from some web site or other. Charles Barkley was obnoxious on behalf of some telephone company that offered a cheap way to let up to five people bother you incessantly at no extra cost. Fox is happy to take your money, folks.
Mickeleh's Take: The best spot of the weekend wasn't on the Super Bowl. It was on YouTube. "Yes, We Can." by Will.i.am, setting riffs from Obama's South Carolina victory speech to music.
(Tags:Super Bowl Ads, XXXXX, Super Bowl, Advertising)