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Grading the Super Bowl Commercials

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Yeah, I watched the game. It was pretty good. The Saints story is pretty cool. I like Drew Brees a lot. I cheer for Ohio State grads to succeed, so yay for Will Smith and Malcom Jenkins. But I'm rarely too pumped up about the Super Bowl game. It makes me pissed off that the Browns season has been over for like 6 weeks. I'm a little burned out on football. And I often just find reasons to hate both teams. Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey led to my rooting for the Colts. And while Peyton Manning made some incredible throws in the first quarter, and Drew Brees can hit a wide open receiver pretty constantly, I didn't think this was a particularly well-played game. Lots of blown coverages. Bad defenses generally.

So, the highlight of my evening was the half-time show and the commercials. Besides, that's what the NFL is. A little bit of game action, a bunch of replays, and a crap load of ads. (NFL- 11 minutes of actual action per game!)

It was a relatively down year for Super Bowl commercials. None of the funny ads elicited much more than a giggle. None of the movie trailers made me excited for them to come to theaters. None were inspirational or all that motivating. What follows are my grades on the best and worst of the commercials.

You can watch all of the ads here.

Basically, my evaluation of commercials goes something like this:

1.) What was the goal of the ad?

The most common goal is humor. It could be inspiration. Announcement of a new product or service. To make the audience say "wow".

2.) Did the ad meet that goal?

If it was supposed to be funny, was it? What was the reaction of the audience to the ad?

3.) Did the ad relate to the product or service it was trying to sell?

If you spend most of the ad trying to figure out what the heck it is for, it probably was a waste of the company's money to run it.

4.) Do I have a higher opinion of the product, service, or company after watching the ad?

The grades will be by company, so Budweiser/Bud Light and Dorritos will get one grade, even though they seemed like they ran 100 commercials each. The more ad time a company bought, the more I expected of them.

Hyundai - F-

Car commercials are usually pretty lame. Hyundai ran about 5 ads. They were mostly focused on their Sonata vehicle. The general selling point seems to be that it is affordable luxury. But other than that, the only thing in common with the Hyundai ads was that they were all painfully boring.

They tried straight ads, just talking about the car. Boring and a waste.

They tried to be funny, with a little thing about Brett Favre winning the 2020 NFL MVP. The joke was overdone and poorly executed.

They tried to be warm and fuzzy and say that their cars are built by hand. It was just dumb and boring.

I didn't think much of Hyundais before tonight. I won't be buying one anytime soon.

McDonald's - B-

LeBron James and Dwight Howard did a tribute to the classic Jordan vs. Bird ad from about 20 years ago. They did a dunk-off, winner gets a McDonald's lunch. The dunks were obviously fake, but not so crazy as to be fun to watch. It missed the instant classic feel of the original ad. Larry Bird's cameo partially saved it.

Bud Light/Budweiser - C+

Beer commercials used to be some of the most creative and best ads out there. This year failed to live up to that bar.

Apparently, Bud Light leads to an awesome time when it is the foundation of a house, when the world is about to end from a meteor, or when your plane crashes on a remote island.

The best Bud Light ad of the day was the Audio-Tuner. It was fun and very topical. Kinda a throw back to the Wazzzuppp spots from years ago.

Budweiser is so good, that people would work together to form a bridge to get a beer truck to make it into their town. Another ad soliciting not much more than a "meh" was the Clydesdale's life long relationship to a Bull. I feel like I've seen that ad before.

Beer ads are better when they are competing against eachother. Miller didn't make an effort this year and Bud's ads suffered because of it. Damn.

Snickers - A

Big time candidate for Ad of the Super Bowl. Betty White playing football, common, that's funny. If you don't want to look like an octogenarian playing football, you better eat a Snickers. Great message. Well-executed. Really funny.



Focus on the Family - D

For all the discussion about this ad, nothing was said, nothing happened. Tim Tebow's mom starting telling the story of her experience having Tim and then Tim tackles his mom. What? Wasted money.

Boost Mobile - B

Redid the 80's Bears famous Super Bowl shuffle. With some funny lines and the players looking like they were 90 years old. I liked this one a lot. Had no clue what they were selling though.

Doritos - C+



Doritos went for quantity over quality.

The dog collar spot, the fake death, and the Dorito-obsessed ninja-killer-workout-guy were all failures. Near-misses, maybe, but failures nonetheless.

They did have one great commercial though. When the little kid slapped a guy and said keep your hands off my mama, and keep your hands off my Doritos, I laughed as hard as a did at any ads all night.

Coca-Cola - D+

Blah. The Simpsons spot was just boring. I didn't know what it was advertising for awhile. It was long and boring. Same with the guy that was sleep-walking through the African Wilderness to get a coke. Long, unfocused, and uninteresting. - D-

Never have been a fan of these ads. I'm all for selling through sex. But these spots weren't very provocative. And now that we all know what godaddy is, it isn't like we are running to our computers to google it. Waste. - C

The chipmunk (or whatever it was) that played the violin. Apparently you have to be a rodent-prodigy to get a job in this economy.

Bridgestone - C

Being able to save a killer whale because your tires are so great is kind of an awesomely-bad concept. Then they through in a lame bachelor party joke and you get that it was all some lame wannabe Hangover reference thing. They followed that spot with a couple ads that were so forgettable, I didn't write anything down about them. - C-

They basically redo their ad about a really great confident guy needing to have that same confidence in buying a car. Let's try to be more original, ok?

Letterman - B

Letterman, Oprah, and Leno on a couch. That's funny. Should have been better though. Also, too quick.

careerbuilder- B-

Casual day turns into everyone always comes to work in their underwear. Cute, but not as funny as the monkeys they have used in the past.

Dockers - C-

Honestly, I don't know what to make of this ad. It was aired right after the careerbuilder underwear ad and it was about not wearing pants. I thought it was just a continuation of the ad before. If I were Dockers, I'd be pissed.

Dodge- C+

Man's last stand, apparently, is to drive an over-priced Sedan.

Teleflora- D

Talking flowers. Good idea, but wasn't pulled off.

Papa John's - D-

Looked like it could have been filmed by a local news station crew. I mean, if you are going to spend that much money being a major sponsor of the Super Bowl, you think you'd hire someone with a slight creative vision.

Dr. Pepper -D

It wasn't funny when they had Kiss talk about pop. It really wasn't funny when they had Kiss talk about miniature versions of themselves singing about pop.

truTV - B-

Right after the mini-KISS, we get mini-Troy Polamalu. At least this was kinda funny.


Pretty funny. I'm liking Jim Nance more and more lately. And calling a guy out for being whipped and missing the game to go shopping was pretty fun. But the humor almost distracted from the ingenious of the product. Portable, hand-held, live TV? That's awesome.

They had a couple other spots too. I'm intrigued.

CarMax - A-

Animals, like a parakeet, a squirrel, a dog, and a monkey were shocked at the awesome facts about CarMax. Simple, funny, direct.

Miller Hi Life- B

Miller's only effort was pretty good. Just give some local businesses 5 seconds each. Make fun of how expensive these spots cost. Wish they did more of these, actually.

Mortorolla - B

Megan Fox is hot. And this ad was actually provocative and funny.


Slug bug, 2010 style.

Denny's - A-

One of my favorite series of ads this year. Chickens screaming in horror because they will have to lay so many eggs because of the great deals at Denny's. I appreciate that Denny's doesn't try to get all classy. The chicken screaming in space was my favorite. Again, simple, funny, and direct.


Does anyone actually think KGB's "service" is useful?

e-trade - B

The talking babies are funny. But we expect them now. And its hard to top what they've done before. The one where the baby is talking to his significant other was great. She called another baby-girl a "milkaholic". That's funny.

Census - F

I didn't get it. Was it supposed to be a Christopher Guest-type thing? It was too short, the awkward humor was confusing, not funny. And I'm not sure what the point of promoting the Census during the Super Bowl is.

google - B

Pretty cute. A love story told through google searches.

Kia - B

Car commercials, again, usually suck. This one was fun and entertaining. Stuffed animals come to life and have a great time in their Kia Sorrento.


They had tons of quick promos for the draft and the like (I keep forgetting they are putting that in prime time... what a stupid move). But I'm really only rating the thanks to the fans commercial that starts with Reggie Bush lifting off and seemingly flying to the endzone in super slowmotion. I hate Reggie Bush, but that was pretty sweet. Feel good ad, all around.

Pop Secret/Emerald Nuts - D+

Human dolphins do tricks for snacks. Blah

Home Away - C

I appreciate the attempt with bringing the Griswolds back. But, common, its been like 25 years since that was funny. Can't we at least try to be original. Also, not sure what they are selling. Renting a home instead of a hotel room? Doesn't seem practical.

Intel - B-

New processor is kinda exciting in a nerdy way. The robot with hurt feelings was kinda funny.

Audi - C+

Green Police arrest people for failing to be environmentally friendly. It succeeded more as a public service announcement than a car commercial. And while I'm not familiar with Audi's green cars, chances are, I'll be unimpressed.

Taco Bell - C+

Chalres Barkley rhyming. Not sure if it was supposed to be a hip-hop style rap or a Dr. Suess style poem.

Sketchers- D

I bought Sketchers once. Worst shoes I've ever owned. That's the only thing I could think of during their 2 or 3 spots.


Ad that made me laugh the hardest: Doritos "Keep your hands off my mama"

Ad that made me smile: Snickers "Betty White plays football"

Ad that made me want the product/service: FLO TV

Ad that made me want to learn more: FLO TV

Ad that inspired me the most: None really. Maybe Audi "Green Police"

Most provocative: Motorolla "Megan Fox pictures"

Best campaign: Denny's "Screaming chickens"

Total Fail: Census; Focus on the Family

Movie I now want to see: eh, none really. I guess Shutter Island because Di Caprio is one of the best actors out there today, and I like Scorcese a lot. I'll probably see Alice in Wonderland and eventually Robin Hood. I'm so over remakes and sequels though. Their must be a real lack of talented screen writers these days.