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Super Bowl Ad Recap: The Good, The Bad, And The Battleship

I learned a few things during this year’s Super Bowl.

1) It’s really hard to dress for a Super Bowl party when both teams have the same colors. And,

2) I learned what it’s like to be a girl watching her boyfriend get beaten up, as I watched Tom Brady get repeatedly sacked in the final minutes.

At least the ads gave me some chuckles. So I’m here to recount those chuckles now to you.

Movie Trailers for Bad Movies

I’m not saying these movies will be bad. I’m just saying they almost certainly will be.

Every year during the Super Bowl, we get treated to movie trailers for the year’s biggest flops. Sahara, anyone? This year I’m calling out Battleship (because that’s easy and I don’t like to be wrong), and I’m gonna go ahead and throw that GI Joe movie out there, as well. The commercials for these movies were seen by 90 million people, but it’s a guarantee I won’t know a single person who goes to see the actual films.

Bud Light Switches It Up.

I have never been a fan of Bud Light’s cartoonish, kindergarten-colored ads featuring youngsters drinking beer in someone’s backyard. This year I was both flattered and taken aback when Bud Light began advertising directly to me. In “Work,” soft blue lighting and the sophisticated beats of Avicii set the background for a well-dressed group of young professionals gathering in a modern steel and glass building, drinking Bud Light Platinum. It provides wild contrast from last year’s “Drinkablility” campaign, which basically asked me to funnel Bud Light because it’s “easy to drink.” Since I’m terrible, I plan to continue drinking snooty microbrews no one has heard of. But well played, Bud. Well played.

Some Bizareness

You’d have to ask me a whole lot of times before I would be able to come up with a good reason why the NFL should have to air a commercial for itself during the Super Bowl. That being said, however, “Timeline” wasn’t all that bad.

Cars.com has always had very strange ads, and I’ve disliked them year after year. But this year, I’m finally on board. In “Confident You,” the guy with the confident, bobbing singing second head makes me smile every time I re-watch it.

Celebrity Appearances, the Pointless and the Sublime

Sometimes a celebrity is the focal point of a Super Bowl ad—that pretty person who moves the story along, entertaining you while extolling the virtues of the product you suddenly feel the urge to buy. Acura’s Seinfeld-heavy NSX commercial and Matthew Broderick’s Honda CRV spot are examples of the celebrity appearance done properly. The best celebrity appearance this year was Mean Joe Greene in Downy’s Unstoppables commercial, reprising his role from the classic Coke Ad.

There are times, too, when the celebrity is the product, like the David Beckham underwear ad, or John Stamos’ iffy yogurt ad. (He’s John Stamos, and he’s Greek, which I suppose is the point. But what is the point exactly? I choose the meaning to be, If You Eat This Yogurt, John Stamos Appears In Your Kitchen And You Get To Punch Him.)

Then there’s the true emerging trend of 2012: Celebrities appearing in weird places for five seconds. Last year Audi gave us a chuckle with about eight seconds of Kenny G. This year, many more hopped on the “commercial cameo” bandwagon. Regis Philbin shows up for 2.5 unmemorable seconds in this Pepsi Max ad.  In “King’s Court”, Pepsi also tossed in three seconds of Flavor Flav. Motley Crue made an instantly forgettable appearance in Kia’s “Dream” commercial. (Mötley Crüe had an excuse at least, as they appeared next to Adriana Lima in a bikini.) Even poor little Mr. Quiggly scampered onto the bandwagon, throwing in 1.5 seconds of Mark Cuban for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Samsung definitely pulled off a head scratcher with their celebrity appearance, tossing in English band The Darkness, performing their one hit single that is now a decade old. Bizarre, but certainly memorable.

For Pepsi, Elton John reprised the role he has always had in my nightmares, as Evil Hipster King with Plastic Sunglasses.

Finally, of course, there was Betty White. I’ve never considered network promos to be real Super Bowl ads. (They’re normally just regular promos and I’m used to ignoring them.) But NBC scored with their promo for The Voice by bringing Betty back. Betty’s Snickers ad was the talk of the 2010 Super Bowl, and she was sorely missed last year. Kudos to NBC for turning a bland TV promo into a real opportunity for buzz.