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SUPER SUNDAY POST-MORTEM: Sunday’s Super Bowl was, according to ratings as they rolled in yesterday, the least-watched in six years, which didn’t exactly mean that it won’t be one of the most watched nights on television, with 90.7 million viewers. Putting aside the game itself – wasn’t it the Yankees versus the Lakers, or something like that? – most of the morning after scrutiny was devoted to the ads that went for $2.6 million per half minute.
And the consensus was that – they sucked. The L. A. Times was the harshest, editorializing that “most of the commercials that made the Super Bowl cut could have been summarized by the woman in the Chevrolet ad, cringing as her car is surrounded by crazed, half-naked men with the kind of torsos shirts were made for ... Covering her eyes, the woman pleads, ‘Tell me when it's over.’”
“We found very little that offered out loud laughs or made more than a fleeting impression,” said the San Bernardino County Sun. “We won't be talking about many of them this week, and we forgot what products were being touted almost immediately after each ad ran.”
“Indelibly forgettable, if that's not an oxymoron, were all the wildly promoted ‘user-generated content’ ads,” said the Miami Herald. “Several companies made much of contests that allowed supposedly regular TV viewers to create commercials. The concept was phony to begin with - the finalists, mostly ringers, included filmmakers and marketing executives - and even the Chevy ad that was conceived by an actual University of Wisconsin student was slickly and expensively produced by an ad agency.”
Frankly, I didn’t think they were that bad. The Snickers ad with the two mechanics who inadvertently share a kiss while sharing a candy bar, then tear out their chest hair in atonement, was funny in a Jackass sort of way, which would probably make it the best demographic fit - certainly better than a halftime show by Prince. Ditto for the axe-carrying hitchhiker Bud Light ad, and the video game Coke spot that seemed based on an expansion pack for Grand Theft Auto that no one would buy.
And I’d be a liar if I said the Robert Goulet-as-office-gremlin ad for Emerald Nuts wasn’t eerie; I swear I’ve had that dream a dozen times, though it was Richard Dawson as much as it was Goulet. Weirdest of all, though, was the New York Times piece that prissily speculated that the cartoonish violence in many of the ads was a reflection of the Iraq War, which “seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.” The whole article had the tone of a distracted rant by the college roommate who was overwhelmingly outvoted on Sunday’s viewing, and takes it out on his flat mates by regurgitating every tired talking point he half-remembered from psych, sociology, lit crit and poli sci classes, just before his roomies pool together all their roofies and dump them in his Snapple.