During last night’s Super Bowl, not including local ads and the countless Fox promos for “House,” “Glee,” “Chicago Code,” “American Idol,” and the one for “Fringe,” I counted 76 national television ads. Twenty-six of those ads were for cars (19) or car-related products (7) like Cars.com and Carfax, easily outdistancing those other products that often dominate Super Bowls: Beer (6), Soda (7), and Snacks (5), although movie trailers (16) accounted for the second highest number of spots.
When the recession began a few years ago, and the car manufacturers all seemed to be on the brink of bankruptcy, I read somewhere that the slump in car sales couldn’t last forever because Americans can only go so long without buying cars and that, eventually, we would buy them and the auto sector would return. If Super Bowl commercials are any indication of 2011, a lot of folks are going to be buying new cars this year.
Overall, it was a fairly lackluster night for creativity and humor in TV spots. There was, as usual, more of the same, in the unflattering or objectifying depiction of women (GoDaddy, Pepsi Max, and Bud Light, i.e., the usual suspects), the usual array of animals and mid-list celebrities, like Richard Lewis, Roseanne Barr, Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, Joan Rivers, Timothy Hutton, Puff Daddy. Kim Kardashian also appeared in an ad, and I’m fairly certain it’s the first time I’ve ever heard her speak. The commercials that worked the best, it seems, were the ones that tried to engage emotionally rather than through humor. Not necessarily the best or most creative, but I think one of the most effective ads of the night was for the Motorola Zoom, if only for the way it depicted Apple users as Pod people. Adrien Brody’s Stella Artois commercial was also kind of neat, if only because it was unusual for a beer commercial, and I really like the NFL commercial that included a montage of sitcom stars, past and present, although its effectiveness was limited.
The worst commercials? Godaddy, those horrible Chatter.com ads during the equally horrendous half-time show, the Pepsi Max spots, and the return of that goddamn E*Trade Baby. The most controversial, perhaps, was for Groupon.com, one that seemed to exploit and trivialize the political situation in Tibet. What they didn’t say, however, was that a portion of the proceedings goes to charity. That doesn’t redeem it fully. But, I gather that it works — who doesn’t receive Groupon.com emails every goddamn morning at this point?
As for the best commercials of the Super Bowl (not including movie trailers, which TK will cover this morning): Here are the best 5.
5. Careerbuilder.com — Parking Lot
4. Coke On the Border
3. Budweiser Old West/Tiny Dancer Spot
2. Chrysler Detroit Spot with Eminem
1. Volkswagen Darth Vader Spot