It was a good night for football -- a very good night. But I am not here to talk about football. Peter King will give you 9,000 words or so of that, no doubt parceled out over the week in nice Odyssey-sized chunks.
No, I have been asked to talk about advertising and, let me tell you, it was not a good night for advertising. If advertising had been returning punts Sunday night, it would have been pancaked moments after the catch, fumbled in the process, and then taken off the field on a stretcher. Upon coming home, it would have found its wife drinking highballs with the mailman and its inbox full of spam.
It was a case of too many companies, scared by last year's wardrobe malfunction, playing it too safe. So with the exception of a few spots, it was the Not Good, the Disturbing and the Incomprehensible -- and I'm not even talking about Paul McCartney's classic halftime call-out, "Thank you Super Boooowwwl!"
For your critiquing pleasure, then, here's a half-by-half rundown of some of the best and worst (with 1-10 ratings), followed by the evening's awards. I have taken the liberty of naming the ads for easy identification
Mustang Dead Guy: OK, so this was shown just before the kickoff, but it was creepy enough that it needs to be included. Summary: Highway patrolman finds frozen corpse in convertible Mustang. Rating: 1
Airborne Beer: The first official ad was one of the best. Simple premise, good misdirection: Skydiver won't jump. Instructor woos him by tossing a Bud Light out the door and he still won't jump ... but somebody else sure will! Pilot goes bolting out after the beer. Funny and good enough to shine on a weak night, though it didn't necessarily make me want to drink beer. Rating: 8
That Matrix Ripoff Movie:Constantine's tagline: "In 12 days, the battle begins to save our souls." From what? Wooden acting and video game graphics? Rating: 4
Pepsi Truckin: P. Diddy gets a ride in a cola truck so everybody gets cola trucks. The premise isn't bad, but it just wasn't funny. Felt like gratuitous celebrities. At least the production values were good. Rating: 5
LeBogus: LeBron James in a ridiculous non sequitur about bubble gum. Could have been so much more -- remember the golden days of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan going "off the Grand Canyon"? Bubblicious doesn't. Rating: 3
Actually Creative Kinko's Ad: Now this was clever. Spokesman for FedEx/Kinko's introduces 10 keys to a Super Bowl commercial, including the inclusion of a celeb (Burt Reynolds), an animal that can talk and dance, a cute kid, hot women and a catchy pop song (Don't Stop Believin'). I'm giving it a 9 for execution, originality and topicality, which was made comically clear by ...
Beanies Are Inexplicably Sexy: Almost immediately after FedEx spoofs the prototype, we get over half of the 10 rules in a single Diet Pepsi ad about some wiener-looking dude in a skull cap attracting attention. Celebrity (Cindy Crawford), hot women (lots of them), pop song (Stayin' Alive), animal (chihuahua), optional brand message and annoying gay guy (Carson Kressley). Okay, so the last one was Diet Pepsi's contribution -- and I suppose, in a weird sort of way, a bit of a gay rights advance -- first ad I can think of in which a man ogles another man. Rating: 6
Go Hooters: Ad for GoDaddy Web site features a large-breasted woman parodying -- in the loosest sense of the word -- the Janet Jackson fiasco. Normally, this would be superfluous, but it actually stood out this year by pandering to our basest instincts. Consider pandering successful. Rating: 6
Sharin' Sharon: Another solid Bud Light ad, this one about the power of photo phones as it relates to stealing your friend's girlfriend. Rather funny. Rating: 7
Manipulative Mickey D's: A French fry shaped like Abe Lincoln leads to a McNugget shaped like Ben Franklin, which leads to ... viewers being directed to a Web site. We want to be entertained in 30 seconds, not told to go to some targeted internet address. Booo. Rating: 2
Taser that Bastard: Regular guy on his hands-free cellphone maced, tasered and beat into submission by deli owners over a misunderstanding. Now this is art! Rating: 9, if for no other reason than it works out some good collective anger about people on hands-free cellphones.
Rugby without the Pips: When you can't do better than Gladys Knight for your celebrity, you're in trouble. Rating: 1
A Bunch of Unremarkable, Unmemorable Ads: So forgettable I've forgotten them. Except for the one where Will Smith teaches Kevin James how to dance, because I'd already been subjected to that one, Kubrickian style, at least 40 times in the last three weeks. Now there's a new stereotype: white men can't dance and black men can. How original.
Homoerotic Stoners: Two guys eating deli sandwiches in a car together, with the windows fogged up. Hotbox anyone? Downright weird. Rating: 1
First of the Monkey Ads: To be later followed by parts II and III. For careerbuilder.com. Not good, not horribly bad. Gets across the point about jobs. Rating: 3
Dennis Rodman in a bathtub: Which was preceded by shots of Mike Ditka and Refrigerator Perry and other "hot" current sports celebs. Rating: 1
Ghosts of Super Bowls Future: Nicely done ad featuring a goofy, likable Joe Montana, Ben Roethlisberger, Jon Gruden (nice pipes, Grudie), Curtis Martin and others on ensemble singing of Tomorrow. Fitting, funny and, marketing-wise, utterly irrelevant, as no one watches the NFL Network anyway. Rating: 10