Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Commercials

[post 066]

We interrupt all these reports from San Francisco to bring you this emergency message. There was a Super Bowl yesterday. There were a lot of commercials. Advertisers paid $3 million for a 30-second spot. The least you could do is watch.

Yes, this post is yet another example of the stupid things you can end up exploring once you start writing a blog like this (and by you I mean me). Since Super Bowl commercials supposedly represent American advertising at its best, I was hoping it would prove incredibly illuminating to see what role if any physical comedy played in these ads. Of course this means I actually had to watch all of them, for which each and every one of you should be paying me very large sums of money.

I did find ten commercials sortakinda worth your 30 seconds.

Bud Light: Light House
A party at a house built out of Bud Lite beer cans. The catch is that the cans are not empty, so the guests can't resist grabbing a can to drink and, well, just imagine the consequences.

Grade: B
Keaton's One Week it ain't, but funny enough; maybe I'd give it a higher rating if the beer weren't so piss poor.

Snickers: Betty White
Snickers candy bars give you instant energy, and if you don't have energy you might play football like 88-year-old actress Betty White.

Grade: B–
The two tackles are well done, but I didn't get the lack of transitions between old and young. Morphing anyone?

Focus on the Family: Tebow & Mom

More unnecessary roughness as another defenseless women gets blindsided in this rather odd commercial by a Christian family group.

Grade: C+
Funny idea but they didn't get enough out of it. I would have liked to see them do more with the hit and with her reaction. Can't she drag him for a couple of yards?

Doritos: Dog Gets Revenge
Live-action dog mixed with CG effects to prove how irresistible Doritos are.

Grade: C—
Sorry, the stiff animation was too distracting for me to be amused by this. Real dogs are cute but...

Doritos: Playing Nice
Guy arrives for date with hot single mom whose son slaps him as a warning to lay off the Doritos and lay off his mom.

Grade: B+
Funny, economical, good enough slap. I think reactions sell the gag, so I would have extended that final stare-down a few more seconds. C'mon, what's an extra $300,000 to milk that laugh?

Doritos: Miracle
A guy fakes his own death so he can be buried alive in Doritos and watch the Super Bowl in peace. Makes sense to me. But who can sit still during a football game?

Grade: B—
Did I mention that reactions sell the gag? I wanted more of a take on the churchgoers before the friend jumps up to save the day.

Budweiser: Body Bridge
The bridge is out so how will that Budweiser truck get through??

Grade: A—
I still don't like the beer but I love the image. Remind me to append this to my long piece on human pyramids.

Career Builder: Casual Fridays
When casual Fridays go too far. More physique than physical, but...

Grade: B
This commercial immediately preceded a Dockers commercial with men walking around in their underpants. Is there a movement afoot that I don't know about? Anyway, funny enough, I liked the boldness, but two problems: Aren't most people these days more concerned with having a job, preferably one with health insurance, than they are with things getting too loosey-goosey at the workplace? And though like you, dear reader, I happen to have a perfect body, do they really need to take cheap shots at those who don't?

KGB: Sumo Wrestling
Information is power. Lack of information = instant death by sumo.

Grade: B—
Again the moment of impact is not shown. Conscious decision or shortcut? I'm visualizing all 600 pounds of Sumo Jelly soaring through the air and flattening this guy, all in slow motion.

Coca-Cola: Sleepwalking
Shades of Harold Lloyd as our hero threads his way through unseen horrors.

Grade: B

I liked bumping into the elephant best.

Those were my top ten, but there were a bunch more with physical comedy elements, including the following:
• A Hyundai Sonata ad with dozens of hands lifting a car like some Pilobolus dance piece.
• A Boost Mobile ad with retired football stars trying to sing and dance, exposing body fat and even a thong.
• A Bud Light ad in which the imminent annihilation of planet earth triggers a wild Bud Light party at an observatory.
• A Volkswagon ad that instructs us to punch the one we're with when we spot a new VW.
• An Emerald Nuts ad with humans as performing dolphins.
• A Doritos ad that proves stealing Doritos has its consequences.

You can see every single Super Bowl ad by clicking here, not that I would necessarily recommend it.

Okay, perhaps not "incredibly illuminating," but notice that a lot of them did have physical comedy roots. It sure seems to me that there was more of this, and more live-action than animation, than in previous years, but I think I'll leave it to someone else to explore that trend. And as much as I like physical comedy, I thought the most effective ad was probably the commercial. Of course there are plenty of polls online expressing different (= less valid) opinions.

And I'll close with a funny hors-de-compétition commercial from SunLife involving Cirque du Soleil performers. It's not physical exactly and it was actually aired during the post-game show, so you won't find it among the galleries of Super Bowl commercials, but I like.

P.S. — Braveaux, Saints! But next year J-E-T-S all the way.

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