Monday, February 04, 2013

Super Bowl commercials were not funny

How many times did you laugh at a Super Bowl commercial yesterday? Three times? Five maybe?

Now let’s do the math: Each 30 second spot cost $4,000,000. The production value on all of these commercials was lavish. Safe to say at least $1,000,000? Probably closer to $2,000,000. So think of all the commercials over a four-hour period and hundreds of millions had to be spent on them.

Five laughs.

And the blackout was funnier than any of them.

That’s a pretty bad average.   Maybe thirty mil per laugh?

In the future, how about hiring really funny comedy writers to conceive these high-profile commercials? I’m sorry Mad Men but you’re not delivering. For the most part Sunday’s commercials were just rehashes of similar concepts and tired elements.

Bad slapstick, anthropomorphic animals, slacker “dudes”, hot women and nerds, movie parodies, cameos of actors looking like idiots, goofy production numbers, borderline-racist dialects, and the oldest, unfunniest schtick of all-time – elderly people acting hip. God, can we finally, once and for all, and forever retire that musty gag? The people in that commercial weren’t born the last time it was funny.

The other thing I noticed during this barrage of forced humor was how out-of-touch most of these ads appeared to be. Senior proms, mother-in-law jokes, a guy mortified because he’s holding a pair of panties, and a whole bunch of astronaut ads. Astronauts? Is this 1969?

In their zeal to top each other, in their quest to stand out, Madison Avenue Agencies have turned this friendly competition into an escalating war. And the end result – most of the spots misfire. They're mini ISHTARS.  And they break the first rule of advertising – they don’t sell the product.

How many times were you watching an ad saying, “What is this for?” You think it might be for chocolate and it turns out to be a car. The zany old codgers spot was for Taco Bell. Huh????

They also break a cardinal rule of comedy: You need information before you find something funny. If you’re confused you don’t laugh. And quite a few of these spot so bombarded you with quick cuts, and crazy costumes, and stunts that you had no idea what was happening. I’m sure there were storyboards and the agency tools walked the clients through the spots and they all made sense on poster board, but when they were filmed and edited together they became one dizzying jumble of ideas and images.

It’s time to step back. Time to think of new approaches. Maybe a new pace. Less might be more. Same with the halftime show, by the way. Instead of an extravaganza that only Wayne Newton could love, how about putting Adele at mid-field, give her a mic, and let her blow away the world by just singing? You’ll have a better show and you won’t blow out the electricity in three states.

Why does everything have to be high concept? One of the funniest spots was for Best Buy. Amy Poehler as a customer just asking questions elicited way more laughs than robots beating the shit out of a guy because he kicked a tire.

Interestingly, I thought the two most effective commercials were the Budweiser Clydesdale spot and the Dodge Truck ad featuring Paul Harvey’s essay on farmers. They worked because they were emotional. I imagine in both cases the client was pitched these:

For Budweiser: The Clydesdale farts and because he’s such a big horse the fart knocks down a whole grandstand and two slackers spill their beer and yell out at the horse, “Dude!” Now we do a kind of cool Quentin Tarantino thing here – we have the horse talk like Samuel L. Jackson in DJANGO – and the horse says “Nex’ time you no be drinkin’ Bud I stomp on yo’ ass. You can be’lee dat!”

For Dodge Trucks: We want to sell this to farmers so we see him gathering all his wheat or corn or whatever shit he farms. Maybe throw in a few cows, I don’t know. But his barn is completely filled with his farm… produce/whatever. Then he gets a call. “Remember tomorrow is a farmer’s market.” “Oh, hell, how do I transport all this … produce/hay/beans/whatever?” Next shot is the farmer’s market. People are setting up their stands. And here comes our guy. He’s got his whole barn in the cab of his trusty Dodge truck. Now the farmers look up in awe, and we get a famous farmer – Eddie Albert – the guy from GREEN ACHRES – to say, “And I hear he gets good gas mileage too.”

Hire professionals. There are many comedy writers who can bring in a laugh for under $30,000,000. And think of all the money you'll save on space suits alone!

What were your favorite and least favorite Super Bowl commercials?  

61 comments:

Carol said...

I know this is going to come across as 'taking it way too seriously' but the Audi prom commercial really, really bothered me. We have this kid basically assult a girl - he kissed her without her permission, and we're supposed to applaud that as 'brave'.

Yeah, yeah, I get that we're supposed to assume she was totally okay with it, but that just feeds into that whole 'she totally wanted it' mentality, and that bothers the heck out of me. I know in the scheme of things one stupid commercial isn't that big a deal, but it's a small example of a culture that continues to perpetuate the 'rape culture' mentality, and its frustrating.

Gene P. said...

Completely agree. Of all the commercials I saw, I liked the Paul Harvey/Dodge commercial the best. Powerful. Compelling. Simple. Appropriate. A home run (oops, wrong sport. I mean touchdown!)

ScottyB said...

I liked the ad that's not getting much attention, for the Hyundai Santa Fe. It was visually amusing *and* sent the message that if you have to be stuck driving a minivan-kinda car, the Santa Fe would be a good choice -- which, call me silly, is what an ad is supposed to do. Y'know, actually give you a reason to buy shit.

I don't think the VW ad was racist at all, unless having the idea that Jamaicans are by and large optimistic people is somehow awful. Jimmy Buffet makes an entire career on that sort of idea. Besides, everyone knows people from Minnesota talk funny as it is (whoa! racist stereotype!), so the Jamaican accent made it more amusing. Still, it did what a commercial is supposed to do: Give you a reason to buy the brand.

And yeah, the "Farmers" ad was quite powerful, especially if you know who the legendary Paul Harvey was. The echo effect added to his narration was a bit annoying, tho. He was a legend, but he's not God, fer chrissakes.

The one with the nerd making out with the model was just gross. And the Jeep ad using servicemen was just blatant pandering.

Rory W. said...

Yeah, I'm with Carol on the Audit 'prom' commercial (glad I wasn't the only person who felt this way). In this day an age, that just seemed to send the wrong message.

Ed said...

Ken-

You nailed it. I thought the Harvey ad stood out and was the best of the night.

Least effective- Go Daddy. Even nerds cringed at that make-out scene.

ScottyB said...

One other thing about the Paul Harvey/"God Made Farmers" ad, from a technical standpoint: You'd think all the whiz-bang technology and bazillions of dollars at their disposal, the ad guys could've done something about all that constant background buzz and tape hiss from the original recording. Sounded like they recorded the narration track using a Panasonic cassette recorder from 1972.

ScottyB said...

I totally don't see what the big deal Carol is making of the Audi prom commercial. Not because I'm insensitive, but because it was *too goddamn long* and it lost my attention after about 6 seconds.

ScottyB said...

GoDaddy should just stick with Danica Patrick's tits. Do what you do best and stick with it, by golly.

EileenK said...

The Oreo's whisper-fight ad was the one that made me laugh and sold the product. They also used social media most effectively. You vote cookie vs. creme on Twitter and link to an instagram photo and they reproduced it in either cookie or creme. Best yet, they jumped on the power outage with the you-can-dunk-in-the-dark photo. Bonus: it was set in a library! Win! I also liked the where do babies come from ad--adorable animation. But I couldn't tell you what it was advertising (one of the cars?). Mostly blah ads this year. Does anyone think hipsters are going to drink Bud, no matter what color bottle you put it in? Feh.

PatGLex said...

My favorite "serious" commercials -- The Paul Harvey/Dodge and Oprah/Jeep commercials. (Yes, I know, they didn't sell the product, but....I'm a sucker for sentimental.)

My favorite "funny" commercial -- Kaley Cuoco/Toyota. (Unfortunately, I was in the kitchen doing dishes during the Pohler/Best Buy commercial, I think, because I didn't see it.)

Almost all of the rest of the commercials: blah.

Jonathan Ernst said...

I actually liked the VW Jamacian ad. I thought it was funny. Is it racist? If you do a Google search on the ad you'll mainly find articles questioning if its racist, not actually calling it racist. I can understand why people might cringe. It could perhaps be seen as reducing Jamacians to pigeon-English speaking idiots. However, would people be up in arms if the car turned the passengers into jolly Englishmen with British accents? Or is Pepe Le Pew racist because he's a Frenchman in love? I think because race is involved people are too skiddish. I think the ad stayed very true to the Jamacian way of speech, they didn't parody it, and that the concept was just a silly idea executed without malice.

Kyle said...

Agree that it was a weak year for the ads. I did enjoy the Poehler/Best Buy spot, but I also liked the Samsung Galaxy spot with Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan & Bob Odenkirk.
And surprisingly, I also liked the other GoDaddy ad with the husbands failing to act on their billion dollar ideas.

The Curmudgeon said...

I didn't mind the Audi prom commercial as much as Carol, but I guess I read different things into it [that is, I imagined a significantly different backstory] than she did.

Nor did I find the VW ad as troubling as you did, Ken. I read online that the minister of tourism in Jamaica loved it, too -- and is trying to figure out a way to cash in on the commercial. I'll go with what he said.

I agree it was a weak field and for the same reason you suggested -- too much of a muchness. Of all the over-the-top productions, only the Oreo one made me laugh. I had to watch the 'chair' ad for Bud Light a couple of times before I figured it out. That can't be effective.

The 'Space Babies' ad for Kia was overmuch, but it ended well. The Hyundai Turbo ad was amusing.

A rule of thumb in prior Super Bowls was that the car ads generally were the worst. Not last night... not when the Doritos ads were so bad, especially the goat one. The Pepsi Next ad was incomprehensible.

Tudor Queen said...

I agree with you about the Budweiser "Clydesdale" spot (I look for those every Super Bowl and this was one of their best!) and the Paul Harvey "Farmers", which made me miss him all over again - when we lived in North Carolina we got his news and "The Rest of the Story" every day and I tried not to miss them. But I also loved the Hyundai "Kid Assembles Team" spot, the Cars.com ad with the wolf puppy, and the NFL spot with Deion Sanders. I agree with you, though, that a lot of the spots were sub-par.

I can't help thinking that the new practice of 'previewing' ads takes a lot of the fun out of it. You see a reasonably good ad and think, 'yeah, I saw that already'.

As for the entire "Godaddy.com" campaign, it has completely turned me off ever using their service, should I need a domain name.

Tom Quigley said...

Sometimes the ads are bad because of the product they are trying to sell. Most of last night's ads were for standard things people buy or use every day, and the trick is how to show them or feature them from a different perspective -- but how many different ways can you sell a car or a bag of Doritos? And even the high-tech product ads have been dumbed down to the point where they're insulting the intelligence of the supposedly tech-savvy consumer. No one thinks twice any more about using a cell phone or tablet, or creating a website, which used to be the product areas where the advertising creativity seemed to be the greatest, in line with the innovative new technology they presented. As for the other products, the consensus sounds like the only two real winners were ones that grabbed you emotionally like the Budweiser ad and the Paul Harvey Dodge Truck spot. If the ad is well produced and its message touches your heart, I can enjoy it without a lot of forced laughs or immature concepts thrown in.

Which brings me to another point about writing comedy. You have to establish some kind of common benchmark of believability in a comic premise before you can start doing something with it to make it funny. None of the ads I saw last night (and I didn't see all of them, maybe half) succeeded in that as far as I could tell. They tried to skip right to "funny" and failed miserably.

MBunge said...

"We have this kid basically assult a girl - he kissed her without her permission, and we're supposed to applaud that as 'brave'."


A teenage boy surprising a teenage girl with a kiss is not assault. Would you call it that if he'd kissed a teenaged boy in the same circumstance?

I mean, is the appropriate way to combat sexism and misogyny to try and turn people into terrified eunuchs who can't interact with other people without a 500 page legal document detailing in excruciating details the do's and don'ts of every possible situation.

Mike

Carol said...

@ Mike - well, yeah, I'd call it 'assult' if someone was kissed or fondled or whatever if they didn't want it to happen.

I see your point though. I know 'assult' isn't the right word, but there are many occasions when it would be right to say 'assult' but it gets brushed off with a 'boys with be boys' or 'she probably wanted him to kiss her' or whatever, so when I see that sort of thing portrayed fictionally it just rubs me the wrong way.

Chris said...

Notice you're not going to find many people adding a +1 to "putting Adele at mid-field, give her a mic, and let her blow away the world by just singing?"

Hate to say it but that made you sound a little crotchety. That was a pretty fun halftime show, even for Beyonce non-listeners.

Everything else is way on point though! Long time, first time.

Tim said...

I would mostly agree, Ken. What writers today are calling "comedy" often falls short or is something that's been done a million times...or, better yet, was hilarious back in 7th grade.
Sadly, I think the dumbed down commercials are trying to reach a dumbed down audience and with the huge numbers that come with the Superbowl, the audience ranges from knuckle-draggers to the elite.
Were most of the commercials just not that funny? True. Did they serve their purpose of attracting the attention of their target? Probably.
The Budweiser horse spot and the Paul Harvey salute to Farmers caught my attention, but to get those Gen-Y's to put down their phones long enough to watch an ad, you need Leonardo DiCaprio's ex lip-locking a nerd. I believe that's actually in their handbook.

Beef Supreme said...

The Jeep ad that used military families to sell cars was basically the same idea (appeal to our sense of history and sacrifice) as the Dodge ad with Paul Harvey voice over. But Jeep tried WAAAAAY to hard: the VO was almost comically overwrought in cadence and delivery, and the "background" music was all swelling and dramatic in a way that would've even made Spielberg go "can we tone it down a little?".

The dodge guys got it right - plus, they kept showing their product.

Beef Supreme said...

And yes, I agree that Ken's assessment of the halftime show is off the mark. Nobody wants a person just singing. While Beyonce wasn't spectacular, she was entertaining to see and had some good music. Nothing memorable, but not bad.

She should've done a few more Destiny's Child songs though while they were at it.

Todd said...

What does it say about the advertising industry today when far-and-away the most effective message was written by a dead radio guy?

Roger Owen Green said...

I liked the Oreo commercial; then again, I'm a librarian.

Related to Amy Poehler/Best Buy.

Liked some of the Hyundai commercials, but not the VW Jamaican thing, which was just fingernails on chalkboard annoying.

Beef Supreme said...

Oh, and one more comment: the Kia "baby planet" ad was funny and adorable, as was Kaley Cuoco's ad... except I don't know what car her ad was for.

And I thought Paul Rudd's and Seth Rogen's Nike ad was hilarious. Nike, right? Or was it Volvo? Or Samsung? ;)

Roger Owen Green said...

Volkswagen’s Super Bowl Commercial and neocolonialism

Doug Thompson said...

RE: The Paul Harvey/Dodge "Farmer" spot, it sounds to my trained audio ear that it was a speech Paul gave at some point rather than one of his radio broadcasts and the 'echo' is actually the tone of the room he was in.
Could be very wrong of course, but that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. 'Course here in Canada, we didn't get to see those commercials as our cable companies substitute Canadian ads for the U.S. ones. We have to see the U.S ones on line on places such as Ken's excellent site.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

As you might guess, Ken, I liked the VW spot. Hey, how can you go wrong when the soundtrack is Jimmy Cliff singing the Partridge Family theme? (Two details for the Ja experts: He should've said "irie" instead of "all right" and "sticky bun soon come" instead of "come soon.") But whoever's doing creative for Chrysler/Dodge these last two Super Bowls better be getting a bonus. The Halftime In America and Paul Harvey spots were pitch perfect in tone and appeal. Best Buy won the humor kudos because they took their well-established formula and simply added Amy. Simple. Gold.

jtaylor08 said...

I seem to be in the minority on the Paul Harvey ad. It struck me as such a blatant attempt to recreate the magic of the Clint Eastwood ad from last year. But this one was way too long and did absolutely nothing to sell trucks - it sold the value of farming and farmers. We were all trying to guess what the product was - not a good sign. And Ken is right about too many other ads, which also failed the basic requirement that they sell the product.
The horrific GoDaddy ad, which actually makes me determined NEVER to use that service - at least made its point, that GoDaddy is more than boobs innuendo but also has smart technology to back it up.

MikeBo said...

I asked my wife your opening question, "How many times did you laugh at a Super Bowl commercial yesterday? Three times? Five maybe?" Her answer, combined with mine added up to ZERO. Combined with the 3 point loss by our beloved "9ers" and the whole afternoon became a downer. Best parts were Beyonce and the power failure.

Donnie said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok6dXmFaYq8 This aired in Texas

benson said...

Ken, you might appreciate these lines I saw on Twitter regarding the blackout.

From Keith Olbermann: "Best Super Bowl commercial ever-Night Vision Goggles"

And from a broadcaster's perspetive: CBS had everyone but Walter Cronkite in New Orleans, and the only guy with a working mike is Steve Tasker?

goodman.dl said...

Ages ranged from 25-40 at our party. Consensus #1 Ad was Amy Poehler for Best Buy.

Response to the Paul Harvey ad? Too long for a crowd of suburbanites who don't want to hear forty year old poems about gods and farmers.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

@Benson: Dave Weigel immediately tweeted "THE UNDERTAKER IS IN THE BUILDING."

And a follow-up to my VW criticism: I'm a lot more anal-retentive than Jamaicans. Here's Red Stripe's response to the ad.

Ken Levine said...

Some great stuff, guys. I am compiling my comments on your comments and will post them later today as a separate entry. So please check back. Thanks.

Mark Fearing said...

I think the inventiveness of commercials have gone down hill every year for many years now. I can't remember liking one for a long time. Advertising is the ultimate deal with the devil, the most commercial of all commercial arts. My guess is agencies are , more than ever, afraid of losing a big client in this economy so they provide what the client wants. Which, if you've ever sat in on a committee decision at a big company, means it will be the least dynamic, least interesting, ETC. I was also shocked at how the themes all seemed from the 1960's. Weird...And the so called tech commercials were the worst. No one willing to show us something amazing, or make any kind of promise on behalf of a brand that it will deliver. The comedians Samsung ad was really a waste of space...

chuckcd said...

Sorry, I switched over to MLB Network
during the commercial breaks...

The Super Bowl commercials haven't been funny(or memorable)for several years now.

Rich D said...

Did anyone else catch the second Dodge commercial about twenty minutes after the first where all Paul Harvey said was "Good day."?

BigTed said...

Amy Poehler is always appealing and funny, and her ad was, too. But if it had been any other actress, we'd have noticed that the theme was that women are mostly clueless about technology. (And that older women enjoy hitting on young sales clerks who have to be nice to them. No wonder you can never find a Best Buy employee when you need one.)

Nixon said...

I'm not sure that laughter is the main goal of a commercial. There are funny commercials and there commercials that are not funny. I think that a good commercial plants the product firmly into your mind and hopefully generates sales for the product.
For example, I don't remember if their commercials were funny or not but I like beer and will now keep an eye out for the new beers from Budweiser and Becks.

Postino said...

I left the room and came back in just in time to see Beyoncé bump and grind, keeping the spirit of the 1950s burly-Q houses in Times Square. I think Beyoncé probably has a nice va-jay-jay, but I don't want it in my face over my HDTV.

The football game interrupted the commercials way too often.

Which reminds me, it is supposed to be a football game, after all, and why people actually care about commercials is beyond me. Don't we just shun them any other time? Nowadays a cable channel like TNT shows commercials in four-minute blocks, which allows me to repair a light switch, cook a microwave meal, or have a meaningful phone conversation with my physician without missing a minute of the program.

Ralph C. said...

Those ideas are gold, Ken...gold!!!

Mike Valmike said...

In the multigenerational family room party I attended, the winner by far was... Leon Sandcastle.

Farmer was decent. Jamaica was reasonably funny. Horse was alright. Amy drew a chuckle. Fast 6 and Star Trek both caused smiles. Surprising how bad most of the rest were.

Rich D said...

@ Postino "I think Beyoncé probably has a nice va-jay-jay, but I don't want it in my face over my HDTV."

Maybe you shouldn't sit so close to the TV? ;)

The Hope Nazi. No Hope for You!!!! said...

The bar has been raised to four million dollars an ad. Four Million Dollars! That seems to be the threshold when an ad has to be effective and not always humorous.

If you felt the Audi ad was offensive then YOU'RE sending the wrong message. For some, the prom is the most awkward stage of their life. You've got a lifetime to worry about offending someone ahead of you. If these moments don't occur then you're not human. The only violation is you not being sympathetic to that stage of life.

The VW ad would have been much more effective if a Rasta Man walked through the office and just stared at them forcing them to see how stupid they were. Or, if he started to imitate them, it would bring it home.

And for the Ram ad....Are you crazy? You want to use Green Acres to push trucks? Next, you'll want to have Phil Silvers knock on their door and try to sell them a lemon. The days of portraying farmers as hicks are long over. These people have pride and are the thread of America. They seem to have more common sense than a lot of you on this blog toay. As long as the flyovers continue the attitude that they only watch Hee Haw, Green Acres and the Beverly Hillbillies, Dukes of Hazard, they'll never be able to sell trucks. They're not trying to target you, Mr. City. You're not their market. Many people buy a truck who don't need one. Why, because they're buying the image of what you saw in the Ram and not Fred Ziffel. The only way you can infuse humor into an ad about farmers is to have the joke on someone else, not them. Go watch Kingpin and take a lesson. Woody Harrelson milks a bull.

Your line of "Whatever Sxht they sell" tells me just how out of touch you are with the farmland.

The Ram ad is a pivotal turning point of what you'll be seeing for future Superbowl Ads. The type of ad campaign that can be used afterwards without that builds and isn't burned out 20 minutes after the game clock stops.

Especially when next years ads will cost five million dollars, 2015 ads six million dollars and so forth.

At least it's better than burping the Alphabet. Wait, that was 1995 and the Dot Com era.

They've had nearly 20 years and Go Daddy still can't get it right.






michael stillman, toronto said...

You say the Super Bowl ads weren’t funny.

You also say the first rule of advertising is to sell the product. That's true. It's also the only rule.

Humor only works in an ad as a sales tool if the joke it leads up to is inextricably entwined with the sales message. Usually it isn't, and the joke is on the advertiser.

The ad you and your partner wrote for CHEERS (in yesterday’s post) works because it starts with a bona fide joke "Super Bowl Sunday, Diane, the only reason for living not found in a mug" and builds to the big laugh of a character -- Diane -- introduced as feeling superior to the goings-on around the Super Bowl talk suddenly being revealed as being into it as much as everybody else (including the viewers). One watching the ad cannot avoid getting the humor. But the critical thing is one can't get the humor without getting the personalities of the people (in particular Diane) involved and where the banter takes place, which is hammered home with the closing bit -- "what'd you say the name of this place was?"

I gather this ad was placed sometime within the first season, and viewer ratings were pretty bad.

There is no way to measure what effect the CHEERS Super Bowl ad had on its eventual iconic mega success. But I have an idea. Especially given the 80 million audience size. A truly great ad needs only to be seen once. That's one of the realizations Super Bowl advertisers do get right.

If you and your partner were paid the same or less than you would have been paid for at least three full sitcom scripts, then, quite seriously, you were both grievously underpaid.

Jonathan Ernst said...

Is it just me or did anyone else totally misunderstand the Budweiser clydesdale campaign. I thought it was a parody of sentimentality. In what universe does a guy get sad because a parade animal fails to recognize him. I thought the spot was making fun of something like the YouTube video where the British guy reunites with the lion he raised and released to the wild. Not until reading the comments on the blog did I realize people find this truly touching. Is there anyone else in disbelief that this campaign, which goes back years I know, is some people's sincere favorite?

Rich Shealer said...

My personal favorite was the Red M&M singing Meatloaf's I'll Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That).

Mac51 said...

Yikes Carol, you are the epitome of the PC Police. Lighten up, Francis.

Cap'n Bob said...

Clydesdale and Farmer. I apparently didn't see a number of the others. I loathe Best Buy so would have tuned them out. Ditto Oprah.

SharoneRosen said...

hate the beer... love the Clydesdale... it made me weepy. I missed the Paul/Harvey- Dodge ad. I must have been battling for buffalo wings at the time

Anonymous said...

Yes. Somewhere in the universe David Ogilvy is cringing.

Liberal Guy said...

The real racist ad was the Dodge Ram ad. All these white farmers with families being shown when in reality the true farmers are all the migrant workers in America. If farmers are driving a pickup truck through there farms it as overseers of there illegal workers who are often underpaid while working in the hot sun paying for the "Farmer" who drives around in an air conditioned truck. that same Farmer probably leaves his truck running to keep cool in the summer while using using up resources and polluting the air so that in the future his farm will be further threatened by climate change.
OK went a bit far but still there are many questions about if the family farm still exists and if so what form it is in. The ad made me think more about that then buying a Dodge truck and I don't think it really worked well.

Unknown said...

@Liberal Guy: as a lifelong midwesterner, I can guarantee you that the family farm does exist, and that the people running them are as depicted in that ad. It's fathers and sons and wives and daughters working long hours doing back-breaking labor, and yes, driving pick-up trucks. Your point of reference is skewed.

RareWaves said...

Thank you Jonathan for sharing your response to the Clydesdale ad. I thought it was only me who felt that. I'm usually tuned in to the sensitivity of these things, but the ad just seemed too cliche to be sincere and I really thought it must be a parody. This anecdote may explain why I thought that.

The first time I saw the 1985 Amazing Stories episode, Mummy Daddy (story by Steven Spielberg and teleplay by Earl Pomerantz), I thought it was stupid. I couldn't believe they were using every horror movie cliche in the book. I was so annoyed until I realized that I was the idiot; that it was all very intentional; a parody of the genre. How could I have doubted Steven and Earl? I gave myself a few palm slaps to the forehead and went from thinking it was lame to realizing its brilliance. Fortunately, I had taped it and watch it every year around Halloween. (I now own the DVD set.) I love that episode and continue to enjoy the humor in it, but that last scene still gives me chills.

Anonymous said...

Well, unlike almost everyone else on here, I thought the commercials were actually pretty good. So did many of the simpletons I was with - we laughed a bunch of times - more than 5 for sure. A white guy sounding exactly like a Rastaman, trying to cheer up his coworkers' gloomy Monday? How can anyone not see the humor in that?! So much for my delusions of being a semi-intelligent person, I guess.

Michael Strickland said...

The God Makes a Farmer and The Clydesdale ads were unusually effective because of their usage of still photography rather than video. "Turn Around" ads by Kodak from the 1950s made people cry for a reason. Both ads were also cravenly manipulative, politically and emotionally, but they did the job.

What really struck me was how sexist most of the commercials were, as if we somehow had never heard of 1970s feminism. It was like every other ad was being marketed with the ancient "you buy this product, you'll get to have sex with a beautiful woman." It was genuinely rancid and creepy.

Mike McCann said...

Ken,

Come on, you should know better.... Eddie Albert would be appearing in a Lincoln spot. Remember, Oliver Wendell Douglas' farm vehicle of choice in his GREEN ACRES days was a '65 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors!

GoldenKeri said...

The Amy Poehler/Best Buy ad was great, and I hate Best Buy... but I laughed.

I agree that many played the sexist/racist card... it was annoying. Most forgot the objective of advertising - to sell something. So many were trying to be cool you missed what the product was.

Halftime was fine but the best part was Destiny's Child together. They sounded much better together than Beyonce by herself.

KellyC said...

The farmer ad brought tears to my eyes.
But it's too bad those farmers are few and far between now with the huge agri-business. It was like that when I grew up in Indiana, but not at all like that now.

Lemastre said...

I fear that humor is a vanishing commodity. Even the cartoons in publications noted for their sophistication have become obvious plays on words rather than insightful comments on culture and society. As for commercials, I long ago decided that Superbowl fare is no tastier than what's served up any other day. The Geico pig is about the only amusing critter, and he doesn't have to do anything but look like a pig.

Elle said...

I don't think that the Audi prom commercial was bad. What's so bad about kissing a girl? She didn't pull away and it's not sexual assault if she likes it.