Super Bowl Ads: Five That Scored, Five That Fumbled

by | February 5, 2012 at 11:46 PM | Super Bowl Commercials, TV News & Notes

Clint Eastwood (Photo: AP)

1) The New England Patriots lost, but patriotism won as a pro-America Chrysler spot voiced by Clint Eastwood emerged as our choice for the best commercial we saw during the Super Bowl Sunday night.

Ronald Reagan once famously declared: “It’s morning in America.” During halftime in the Super Bowl telecast, Eastwood declared: “It’s halftime in America.” The spot, lasting around two minutes, was produced by Chrysler. It was one of those spots Chrysler’s been doing lately about the auto industry’s comeback, the reemergence of Detroit, and the potential for the American economy to turn around. “All that matters now is what’s ahead,” said Clint in a gravelly voice that was so distinctive we guessed it was him long before his face was shown. We give this moving spot a grade of A++ (yes, the two plus signs are not a typo!).

Watch Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” spot here:

2) We’re never sure if everyone is as smitten as we are with Jerry Seinfeld, but we still watch the reruns of his old NBC sitcom with a fervor bordering on religion. So for us, his Acura Super Bowl spot, which featured a surprise appearance by Jay Leno, has to rank high among this year’s big commercials produced specifically for the big game.

Among the touches we loved: He brought back “the Soup Nazi” — the actual actor from that classic “Seinfeld” episode, Larry Thomas. We loved it when Jerry said casually, “I own all the characters!” We also loved seeing actor Michael J. Anderson, who we haven’t seen since “Carnivale” on HBO, playing “the last living munchkin” in Jerry’s ad.

Watch Jerry Seinfeld’s Super Bowl Acura spot here:

3) Who doesn’t love classic cartoon characters? And when virtually all of them turn up in one commercial, that’s an advertising touchdown for a Super Bowl commercial. This Met Life spot started out with the Peanuts gang, and before long, we saw everyone from Elroy Jetson to Top Cat. It was just awesome.

Here it is, the Met Life Super Bowl spot with all (or most) of our cartoon faves:

4) One of the most memorable spots was the “happy grad” spot for Camaro. You know the one — the grad still in his graduation cap and gown (or maybe just his gown) who spies a new yellow Camaro convertible parked outside his house and cannot contain his joy because he assumes it’s a graduation gift for him. It’s not, of course — and that’s the spot’s punchline. Sometimes, spots like this don’t always work because, in all the excitement, you can forget what the ad is for. Not this one, though — there was no way we would forget this was for Camaro.

Watch it here — the “Happy Grad” Camaro spot:

5) Coke had a couple of animated polar bear spots on the Super Bowl, but we liked this one the best, the one titled “Catch.” It’s not that we fully understood even what was going on in the spot — specifically, why the bears were playing catch with the Coke bottle (though we suppose it might have been to simulate a football game, sort of). But even so, when this spot came to its conclusion, all we knew was: We felt very good. And we thought that we had just watched something very special.

Watch the Coca-Cola “Catch” polar bear spot here:

If space and time permitted, we would sing the praises of at least a handful of other Super Bowl spots — the Doritos spot with the dog that apparently killed the cat, the Bud Light commercial with the dog that fetched the bottles of beer, the Bridgestone rubber football and basketball spots, and a few others. There were, indeed, a number of high quality commercials this year.

And a goodly number that we did not care for.

1) A case in point: Our pick for the worst spot of the evening. It’s no contest: It’s the kid urinating in the pool. This was one of several spots for TaxAct.com, and honestly, we have no idea how this little boy peeing in the pool has anything to do with doing one’s taxes. We know — the tagline had something to do with “individual freedom,” which for this kid, was the “freedom” to pollute his family’s backyard pool, which happens to be gross. Sorry, we’re just not on board with urinating kids as a way of selling a product in a TV commercial.

Watch TaxAct.com’s urinating kid commercial here:

2) Here we “Go” again: Every Super Bowl, the same complaint is heard — by some but not from everybody — about the GoDaddy spots. Well, count us among those who find them tasteless, particularly this year’s spot in which Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels were either painting or graffiti-ing another young woman who, apparently, was wearing little or no clothing. As usual, we have no idea what any of this has to do with registering a domain name for a new Web site — which is the business GoDaddy is in, in case you didn’t know.

Watch the GoDaddy “Body Paint” spot here:

3) Speaking of tasteless, we didn’t care for the Toyota Camry “reinvention” spot that showed a series of fanciful “inventions” or, more to the point, “reinventions” of common objects or, um, people. This is the spot with ad copy that referred to a baby as “it” when describing a “reinvented baby” — i.e. “it doesn’t poop.” Not only do we prefer that commercials steer clear of pooping (and urinating) children, but referring to a child as “it” just didn’t work for us.

Watch the Camry “Reinvention” spot here:

4) When nerds ogle sexy women: Here’s another thing we don’t like in our Super Bowl commercials — the ones in which the nerdy guy has an icky, uncomfortable “fantasy” in public about a sexy woman. Such was the scenario in the spot for the new Fiat 500 Abarth (The what? Who on earth came up with THAT name?) in which a daydreaming nerd believes some hot girl is about to lick some kind of cream off of his lips (or was it his nose?). Instead, he’s making out with an automobile? Did we see that right? Whether we did or we didn’t, we didn’t really have to see it at all.

But you can watch it right here — the Fiat Abarth spot:

5) Flavor Flav almost saved this spot for us, but ultimately, this Elton John spot for Pepsi was the kind of over-produced TV commercial that, to us, does nothing to sell its product. It’s the one where Elton plays an imperious monarch of some sort and he controls a trapdoor through which he sends court entertainers he doesn’t like and then — yada, yada, yada — he winds up in the very same dungeon with Flavor Flav. Oh, well — we hear some people liked this spot.

See for yourself — watch the Elton John “King’s Court” spot here: