Stop It, Commercials

2nd Annual Super Bowl Commercial Round-Up

Posted in Uncategorized by hendyhendel on February 7, 2011

Super Bowl commercials have a power. As the most expensive advertising spots in the history of the planet, produced for one of the largest television audiences, this power can be summed up in “I’m only watching for the commercials.” People treat these spots as legitimate entertainment, as signifiers for the state of our consumer culture. These ads are not only bell-weathers for what the masses are buying but who these masses are or perceive themselves to be.

This year’s standouts, for better or for worse, were from companies with multiple spots. Let me begin by mentioning my easiest punching bag, beer commercials. I have to give credit, these commercials were not the atrocities one would expect. “Here We Go” is still a terrible slogan from Bud Light, and the one where the director stumbles upon the idea of product placement (because we apparently live in a world where “product placement” is a wonderful insider secret) was annoying. However, I gave props to a later Bud Light spot where a dog-sitter hosts a party and employs the dogs, because dogs doing things is funny.

Before we get to the winner and loser, some stray observations:

Worst line: “Babe, don’t hurt my dog.” Brought to you by Doritos.

Roseanne got hit by a log in a Snicker’s spot. Is this funny? I’m legitimately uncertain.

People thought Groupon was mocking Tibet. This might have been true if the commercial made an ounce of goddamn sense. still awful.

“Cram it in the Boot”: FUCKING WHAT



Honorable mention for this year goes to Volkswagen, with two charming spots (“Darth Vader Kid” and “Beetle”) that were clever, well-made, and entertaining. However, they lose points, because they had hardly anything to do with the products. “Darth Vader Kid” could have been done with any car that ever had keyless entry. Plus, people pull that type of shit on their cats, so it’s weird doing that to a child.


And now, the winner of the year: Bridgestone.

Last year, Bridgestone, on the whole, was terrible. The commercials were aggravating and not nearly as clever as they thought they were (everytime a fake Aussie says, “I said ‘life,’ not ‘wife’!”, a new cancer cell becomes aggressive.) This year, however, was incredibly redeeming, particularly this spot:

I see tires doing their job. I see relevance. I see a coherent, but brief, story. I see an anthropomorphized beaver. I see a good commercial. It was entertaining while selling the product, and it also made sense. More on that coming.


Here’s your loser, followed by the expected litany of offenses:

What was that? Antiquated sexism?? How refreshing! Ladies like marriage and kids and The One! Dudes like sex! These are all they think about. No one talks on dates, they just have telepathic conversations, I guess.

In addition to the lazy stereotypes, this commercial loses for two larger reasons:

1) Pepsi Max was one of the stand-out series, becoming progressively awful as the game went on. It started with an irritating commercial where a nagging girlfriend attacks her boyfriend’s standard of living, because women or whatever. The next one featured a guy getting hit in the crotch as pretty much the only punchline to a joke that was hardly even there.

Then there was this clunker appearing toward the end of the game. The production value looks like something like 5-hour Energy was behind it, not one of the largest corporations in the history of the planet. This could have been made in my basement an hour before the Super Bowl with me phoning in direction from my day job, but no. This was made by PepsiCo, and featured some of the worst combination of writing and acting this side of a middle school one-act festival. If I was on a date with a woman who with every unspoken thought made a different face, I’d think less about sleeping with her and more if she were having a stroke.


2) This commercial was representative of a problem experienced by way too many spots this year: it didn’t make any sense at all. A lot of commercials threw things together and declared them spots that were clever, when they were really just perplexing, like the Wendy’s spot where a guy is hit in the face because he asks about a sandwich or the aforementioned Groupon ad which mentioned Tibet’s crisis, because, you know.

But this one right was downright incoherent. It was so baffling, even one of the characters was confused. The Pepsi Max comes to the table, because one of them ordered a can of Pepsi Max, apparently? The guy seems surprised by the requested drink, and thinks about how he wants one. The girl then responds (mentally) that he doesn’t have a chance, and the guy, like the audience, has no idea what she’s referring to. Can she hear his thoughts? He responds like she can. And is she responding the to Max or the desire for sex? But more importantly, CAN SHE HEAR HIS THOUGHTS?? Are they telepaths? Is that the gimmick?? There’s a gimmick somewhere.


The double-whammy of incoherence and idiocy makes Pepsi Max the WORST OF THE YEAR.


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