Monday, January 27, 2003

Bud Dominates Super Bowl Commercials

The cliché about the Super Bowl is that the real entertainment happens between the game -- during commercial breaks.

Well, given that three of the last six Super Bowls have been competitive and the economy is in the dumps, and has been for a couple years now, that isn't really the case anymore. Sure, there are still some good commercials, but for the most part the fare is average.

That said, there were still some memorable moments Sunday, not including the Bucs three interception returns for touchdowns.

- Two of the best commercials featured video tape gimmicks. The star of the night was the Budweiser commercial featuring the popular Cydesdales and their football game, this time being marred by an instant replay review. The use of the zebra was great imagery by A-B, and provided the commercial's punchline as well. The other VCR-related spot was a takeoff on Coors' Light's popular "twins." It featured the same spots as have been airing for awhile now (love songs and football), but the catch was whoever was watching them was fast forwarding to the parts with "the twins," then rewinding and rewatching the last shot of them. It was a clever way to reuse a commercial but make it fresh.

- The monster.com commercial with the truck barrelling out of control was definetly an eye-grabber, but it still didn't come close to the "when I grow up" commercial of a few years ago. Still, it's nice to see a dot-com that hasn't been completely destroyed by the economy.

- The two Bud Lite commercials featuring guys needing to go into a bar and getting weird looks for different reasons weren't bad, but again just weren't as good as some of the stuff from two or three years ago. The worst part about both of them (the dog on the head and the upside-down clown) was that the punchline was easily guessed at the start of the commercial. Don't expect these spots, which did score highly in USA Today's ad meter, to air too frequently.

- The biggest disappointment for me was not about a commercial that aired, or even one that didn't (I was hoping to see the Yao Ming/Verne Troyer PowerBook spot) but was related entirely to ad meter. The Gatorade commercial featuring a young Michael Jordan playing against the current Michael Jordan was visually stunning, and even in this world of CGI left people wondering how Gatorade did it (especially when the 1982 MJ walks in at the end). But it scored near the middle of the pack, and the reviewers said the low score didn't have much to do with the fact that the commercial has been airing for weeks now. I still stop and watch every time I see it, just like I do with the PowerBook commercial (though only when I see it on TV. In the store, it's like background music).

- Speaking of Yao Ming, he's starting to become an endorsement star. The PowerBook spot is one of the best of the year, and his "Yo-Yao" Visa Check Card debut was one of the biggest laugh inducers of the night. Hopefully he'll get a shoe deal soon, and maybe a soft drink deal to round it out.

- Last thought. ESPN dropped the ball on the "without sports" series. The "there'd be no next year" spot is nice, but the "there'd be no one to coach" spot is the one that grabs your attention. Given the free airtime (Disney owns both ESPN and ABC, so money just changes hands between divisions), the Worldwide leader should have gone for the more powerful spot, leaving the new one to debut in a less-scrutinized setting.

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