Were the Super Bowl Ads Any Good?
The best and worst of the night.
Halftime: Prince looks resplendent in Miami Dolphins turquoise and orange. "Purple Rain," in the rain, is a rock god moment. But can anyone explain why he played a Foo Fighters song? Puzzling.
Third quarter: I forgot to mention that Adam Vinatieri missed a field goal right before the half. This turned out to be the high point of the game for me.
Another animated Coke ad is every bit as winning as the first. We see the inside of a vending machine and learn it contains various adorable creatures who make each bottle of Coke with love and devotion. Here's a grand-scale, big money ad that's both eye-catching and cute. Coke is the evening's marketing champ.
Sheryl Crow hawks Revlon. Crow covers the Buddy Holly classic "Not Fade Away"—an unpretentious ode to enduring love—and turns it into a message about long-lasting hair-color products. Boo, Sheryl Crow. Booooooo.
Emerald Nuts enlists celebrity spokesman Robert Goulet. Apparently, ironically deployed B-list celebrities are still grounds for humor.
Kevin Federline shows up in a Nationwide ad. The ad begins with Federline rapping about "rolling VIP" and ends with him as a fry cook. But are we really to believe the riches-to-rags narrative here? I thought Federline was demanding some serious Britney bucks in the divorce settlement. False humility alert!
Fourth quarter: Is it over yet?
An Izod ad is just a blur of tropical scenery and bikini bottoms. I don't know what's going on, but I think I like it.
In a Bud Select ad, Jay-Z and legendary football coach Don Shula square off, playing an awesome, imaginary football arcade game. I loved the graphics, and the ad was entertaining. But I could use a little more brand differentiation from this spot: How is Bud Select not like Bud, again?
A Flomax ad shows a bunch of older dudes riding mountain bikes, kayaking, and … not having problems with urination! I love the subtle shots of these guys taking lusty gulps from their water bottles. Go ahead, kidneys, excrete that water—I'm not afraid anymore! Also, Flomax is an awesome name for a urine-related product.
End of game.
I was thinking I might begrudgingly admire the Colts after they won. Nope, still hate them. And Peyton seemed whiny even in triumph. His victory face—furrowed, closed-mouthed—made him look like he was in a Flomax ad.
As for the ads: At some point, we may have to drop all this Super Bowl advertising hoopla. The ads have been roundly mediocre for a few years running, now. Some huge advertisers—including Procter & Gamble and Unilever—decided to ditch this Super Bowl entirely (with Unilever instead airing a big ad for its Dove brand during the Academy Awards).
Are we seeing the end of an era? And will we even miss it?
Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.