February 01, 2004

Our national holiday

I think New England just likes suspenseful endings. Whew.

Anyway, as the thing went on, I took notes on the commercials. Overall, this was a fairly lame year for ads. Only a couple made me laugh out loud, and I really wasn't as... impressed as I'm used to being by the usual batch of Superbowl ads.

Best commercial:
Cadillac's breaking-the-sound-barrier commercial. Really gets your attention with the dead silence for the first fifteen seconds; and then both talks about the brand and puts it up on the screen, so you actually remember what the ad was for.
Mastercard's Homer Simpson ad. I can't point to one part of it that struck me, but I laughed harder at this one than at any other. (Not that that's saying much.)
Best effect:
Cadillac commercials (two of them) with the liquid-air effects. I mean, sure we've had the effect for years, it looks like something that could've been produced in 1994, but hey, it's still the best effect of the day. (And it did look cool.)
Most irritating:
Boy, was this ever tough. I ended up going with the Pepsi/iTunes commercial, since it was irritating on its own merits. Runners-up included the drug ads that advocated for drugs without telling you what they did, and the four advocacy ads that CBS aired despite claiming that they only aired ads that sold things (and using this as a basis to reject paid-for ads from PETA and MoveOn).
Least effective:
Towards the end was one with a bar fight in rewind, with Jet Li---it's for a video game. The ad was so badly branded that I don't even know what game it was for....

Ok, and now for the individual notes on the commercials...

Tostito's: New bride catches male half of bridal party in back room watching football game; joins them. Cute.

Orange juice is healthy for you: Sure, fine. Enh.

McDonald's: guy puts a burger wrapper in dryer instead of dryer sheet. Cute.

Cialis: "Have you asked your doctor if Cialis is right for you?" No indication whatsoever of what it even does. Implicit message: "Got problems of an unspecified nature? Drugs might be the answer. Think about taking drugs to solve your problems." Great, guys.

NFL: Please honour our fallen soldiers, who have died for our country. I weep at the futility of their sacrifice. Why have we let 500 of our own people die in the name of petty personal vindictiveness and corporate empire?

Bud Light: meh. A beer bottle with ice and water splashing up against it. Gee, we've never seen that before. Feh.

Pizza Hut: Muppets! Oh, and what's-her-name. You go, Miss Piggy. Commercial does a spectacular job of distracting from the product, which actually seems pretty nice---four individual (square) pizzas packed into one pizza box, for the can't-find-a-compromise pizza orderers.

Ford GT: a car that doesn't look particularly memorable or unique being driven around a test course and switching gears. Nothing to get you excited like pounding music or anything. What an incredibly uninspiring commercial.

Bud Light: One dog is trained to fetch beer from cooler. The other is trained to bite first guy's balls to get his beer. Can't decide if it's offensive or funny.

FedEx: Alien studying humans, keeps saying "why don't we use fedex" so the manager doesn't suspect. Enh.

Dodge Magnum: Guy has monkey on his back: finding a family car that's cool. Cute.

Pepsi: Bears invade cabin, open fridge, find empty cooler; use burly "bear" guy's ID to cash a check and buy pepsi. Cute.

Schick razor: Enh.

AOL 9.0: Top-speed is for the *internet*, not for motorcycles jumping over cars. Production values make it look like it was made for central IL cable station. Bleh.

Van Helsing: "My curse is to vanquish evil." Battles Frankenstein('s monster), the Wolfman, Dracula, etc. Hey, that's Hugh Jackman. Looks like it could be a pretty awesome movie.

Bud Light: Goes to massage parlour, finds a bud light, accidentally goes to wrong room and gets bikini wax instead. Ouch. Funny I guess.

Survivor: on tonight after the Superbowl. The less said the better, really. Commercial itself is unmemorable.

Troy: Brad Pitt looks good, Orlando Bloom looks like a dork. Movie looks good, though!

H&R Block: Willie Nelson advice doll! Hilarious! "Bring it oooon!" Nice.

Chevy Aveo: "the mighty mouse of cars". Apparently part of a major new campaign by Chevy to make twenty new car lines in ten months. Seems ambitious. This one seems to be going for the Mini Cooper/VW Beetle niche. Four tall basketball players get in, and are CGed to look dwarfed by the seats. Eh.

50 First Dates: Freaking Adam Sandler. And the premise has been done before in Memento. Meh.

Bud: Ref is ignoring the coach's abuse---he's trained by having a verbally abusive wife. Message? Ummm... something about domestic abuse, maybe. (Augh.)

Monster: Young guy, old guy do similar things to get ready for their work day. Er, no, for a job interview. Ah, a Monster ad. Ok, that was cute. Not enough name placement, I think.

Everybody loves Raymond: I think it was supposed to make me want to watch the show. Ah well.

Sierra Mist: Bagpipers lined up for a parade. Where's Wallace? Getting steam blown up his kilt. Apparently, Sierra Mist is "like that". (Little boy says "Daddy, that's just wrong." I'm inclined to agree.)

Miracle: some movie about hockey.

Levitra: Mike Ditka liking football and dissing on baseball. Apparently baseball could use Levitra. More use-drugs-to-solve-random-problems.

CSI: TV's most watched show. Ok, fine. Commercial's ok but not really a superbowl commercial.

Budweiser: Donkey wishes he were a Clydesdale. Hair extensions on his lower legs. Passes his interview and gets to lead the team like Rudolph or something. Ok, this was cute.

Alamo: "Do you really believe this war is over? It has not even begun." Ooh, looks good.

Without a Trace: Haven't there been an awful lot of CBS show ads? Did they undersell the real ads?

Pepsi/iTunes: I have not the words. "I fought the law and the law won"? Also (as has been pointed out elsewhere), has the RIAA actually _prosecuted_ any of these? I thought they all settled. On another note, though, when she gives her little speech "...and there's nothing anyone can do about it", I know that this is because it's given to her legally, but it still has a bit of a subversive screw-the-RIAA ring to it. Intentional on Apple's part?

Levitra: The Levitra challenge. Call your doctor and ask for a free trial. AAAAUUUGHH. "The first one's free, kid!" Still no mention of what it does.

Mitsubishi: Catchy commercial with the cars racing in parallel and the trucks opening their backs in parallel and the cars hitting each other symmetrically.

Bud Light: Romantic sleigh ride with candle and bud light interrupted by horse farting past the candle and zorching girl's hair. Ok, funny.

Anti-smoking: Kids counting off; every fifth kid stands up, 1 in 5 kids try cigarettes before 13. Talk to your kids. Kids, don't smoke. Ok, so much for "no advocacy, no ads that don't sell anything". Dickheads.

Charmin: Illegal use of hands! Guy has Charmin instead of towel hanging from his waistband. QB is fondling the Charmin. Charmin "for your end zone". This one was hilarious.

Starsky & Hutch: Oh god, not Ben Stiller. Owen Wilson too, that's promising. Snoop Dogg? Well, it might be interesting. Mostly "enh", though.

Pepsi: My girlfriend Aisha, she left me. Here, drink some Pepsi. I get undertones of "fat waitress wouldn't have been attractive otherwise", but there exists an interpretation that omits this, so it's not as bad as it might be.

IBM: Mohammad Ali in 60s "I shook up the world". Him now saying "Hey, shake up the world." It's a Linux commercial! D00000d. The commercial itself is a little weak, which is too bad. Still cool, though.

Visa: Beach volleyball in bikinis in the snow. Mmmm, frostbite. Can't wait for the Olympics? Something something something VISA.

Secret window: Johnny Depp! Some sort of horror movie about a writer whose stories come to life? Ok, looks vaguely interesting, except I'm not into horror. Not an exceptionally gripping ad.

Chevy?: Bunch of kids with soap in their mouths. Nifty hardtop convertible---roof segments separate and fold up into trunk. Kid says "Holy shit!" and gets more soap. Cute. Wait, who was this for again? I'm guessing Chevy because of the aforementioned twenty-new-cars plan, but the commercial wasn't well-branded.

Lays: Bunch of old people tripping each other to get the Lays someone dropped---one of them got it but the other got his dentures, ha ha! And then the guy that dropped the Lays comes back to get it. Overall, cute commercial.

March Madness: French Lick, Indiana---what's there exactly? "Even in French Lick, winners play on". Watch basketball, I guess. I didn't really understand this one.

AOL 9.0: use AOL's top speed technology on something slow---a motorised wheelchair. Guy zooms away. More central-IL production values. Enh.

CBS: We won lots of awards. Watch us. (Wait, when did CBS become the most-watched network? I thought it was in third place after ABC and NBC?)

NFL: Football players saying the spectators inspire them, and they inspire other people. Rather preaching to the choir, no?

Survivor All-stars; Cold Case; King of Queens; Century City: CBS ads.

Lujack Chevy; iwireless; Trinity hospital in Bettendorf: local ads.

CBS: We won lots of awards. Same commercial as before. They definitely undersold real ads.

Grammys: Some surprise will happen that night, apparently. Aside from announcing the winners, presumably.

Everyone loves Raymond; Navy NCIS: CBS show ads. Enh.

NFL Network: Former football players sing "Tomorrow". Great ad.

Joan of Arcadia: See why everyone's watching it.

March Madness: Samuel Jackson talks about favourite HS teachers (his was a 12th grade guidance counselor). Another one I fail to understand.

Ford Focus: a Focus is sitting in a grocery store, "going for 199, can't keep em in stock". The shopper gets one and tells the checkout lady she'll just drive it home. Commercial: Decent. Not offensive, but not particularly inspiring either.

McD's: "I'm loving it." I think this one is not Superbowl-specific, just part of the generic campaign.

Qwest DSL: family makes a big reception for the Qwest DSL guy. Ok.

Local lawyer ad.

Microsoft: Fiona "explores a new world"---her school. It's overdrawn with theatrical curtains, dinosaurs, etc. MS helps make it happen. Good ad, actually.

Sierra Mist: Guy jumps off fifth floor balcony to land *in* a pitcher of ice water. Sierra Mist is "like that" apparently. Eh.

Expedia: Do they have "Magique"? (Daydream of going to cirque-esque show where he gets pulled on stage, his shirt stripped, and his belly drawn on.) "Errrr... no." Slightly cute.

CBS Sports: anchors practicing tongue twisters. Ok, slightly cute.

Bud Light: Frank the chimp hits on his owners girlfriend. "So, how do you feel about back hair?" Classic.

Staples: Bribing the supply guy with food for office supplies. Other guy discovers Staples, and extorts him for a cream puff, with aid of mafioso bruiser. Awesome.

Cialis: Aha! This time they admit that it's for erectile disfunction. Along with the usual run of side effects. (I still always expect these to include "...and death".) Best line: "Erections lasting more than four hours, though rare, require *immediate* medical help." Ok ad, now that they're actually saying what the drug is *for*. (Still sort of enh, though.)

Monster: Bunch of people exercising and/or getting dressed... getting ready for work... "Get ready for a job you'll love." Good, upbeat music. Good ad.

Hidalgo: Essentially the same trailer as before RotK. Looks decent.

Gillette: B&W ad with images of success in business, in sports, and in romance, along with image of guy shaving. "Never want to lose that feeling"---another image of Mohammad Ali, oddly enough. Decent ad.

Century City; CBS Sports.

Ford Freestar: folding up seats with one-hand. Actually, that does look pretty well-engineered. Good work, Ford! Decent ad.

Lennox: Looks like a burglar; actually breaking into a wall safe to adjust the thermostat. Cute!

Hyundai: Totally generic car commercial.

Cadillac: Car drives through the desert with sweet liquid-effect CG. Three other cars zoom in to meet it. Hardtop convertible folds back. Cool!

Budweiser: Boyfriend zooms through the desert to return a lipstick to his girlfriend who's flown to LA... but it's not hers. Oops! Cute.

Budweiser: Crowd keeps cheering for various celebrities... and then for the guy that's the DD. Drink responsibly.

Honda: The raised-by-wolves SUV commercial.

Mastercard: Homer Simpson gets his errands done for various named prices, with assorted fourth-wall breaking by Homer. "Getting your errands done quicker to go spend time with your family: priceless." Homer sits in the bar. "I *said*: getting..." "Yeah, I heard you the first time." Homer stomps off. First ad I laughed out loud for.

AOL9.0: turns car into a turbo machine that poofs off. Then it comes back---guy was in renaissance. Continuing the Chopper Whatever style. Best of the bunch, actually.

Nextel: Earnhart drives on the football field: walkie-talkies are great. Nextel. (Huh?)

Budweiser: Kids do makeup in the car and are clearly going out, only to be thwarted by the convenience store carding them before they buy beer. Eh.

The-truth: Shards-o-glass freeze pops. Heh. "What if all companies sold products like tobacco". Good commercial, but again putting the lie to CBS's claim that it was only airing ads that sold things.

7-up: 7-up truck with basketball hoop drives around---make a slam dunk and you get stuff. People miss and crash into things as the truck stops and starts. Enh.

Two and a half men: TV's most watched new show. Haven't they been advertising an awful lot of "TV's most watched X"? Different categories, I suppose.

Anti-pot: "Life doesn't rewind." Commercial rewinds from girl passed out back through the party she was at and eventually to her house; where her mom, who has found her pot stash, decides that this time around she'll talk to her. Another advocacy ad.

Cadillac: Total, utter, did-they-fuck-up silence as a car drives around, spins out, guy mouths "wow": then the sound catches up with him. Another LOL. Nice.

Survivor; JAG.

Cadillac: breaking-sound-barrier commercial again. Still great.

The Ladykillers: Tom Hanks? Indeed, done up with this weird 19th-century moustache + goatee combo. Some sort of heist movie with a landlady who's a grandmotherly black lady who's actually a badass. Sounds... ok.

AOL 9.0: The first motorcycle one again.

Pepsi: Old-fashioned Coke & Pepsi machines; little black kid picks Pepsi and is inspired by the guitar shop it's in front of. It's a young Jimi Hendrix. The Coke machine had been in front of an accordion shop---close call. Cute!

AIG: Retirement planning. "This game's almost over, but your life isn't." Ha, little do they know---this game's going on into overtime. Well, probably. Ok commercial.

Subway: No, it's ok to *eat* bad, not *be* bad. "Sorry Wang Chung, no reunion tour." Awesome.

Night & Day lenses: way too technical to be a cool superbowl commercial. Ah well.

Survivor all-stars premiere.

Lexus: "Baby it's cold outside" plays as a Lexus SUV crosses the tundra.

Ford Freestar: Converts without removing head restraints. What to do with the head restraints in that other car? "Why'd we buy a honda? *smack* why'd we buy a honda? *smack*" Ok.

Cadillac: Another cool-liquid-effects commercial.

ONDCP: Kid's drowning in a lake; girl turns around and walks away. If your friend was in trouble, you'd help wouldn't you? More advocacy.

Cadillac: We won an award! Enh.

Another rewind commercial, through a barfight involving Jet Li; this is for a video game whose name I missed. Nice branding, guys.

H&R Block: We guarantee a maximum refund, even if you're a dick and just bring in shoeboxes of receipts. Typical commercial (seen it before).

Survivor; CSI.

Cadillac SUV: Like a roadster, that seats seven. You know, all of the various Cadillacs seem to have this weird slightly-angular look to them. Anyway, the commercial is enh.

Bud Light: Paintball game, winner gets a case of Bud Light. Players are dufuses that start shooting at him as soon as he mentions the prize. Actually a pretty entertaining commercial.

Advil relief: Enh

Centrum: Enh


Union ad.

Hyundai: Standard car commercial.

Posted by blahedo at 10:44pm on 1 Feb 2004
Larry Bird is from French Lick, Indiana, and the state in general is like a centre of basketball mythology. So whenever they do those small town hoop dreams commercials they're always in Indiana. "Miracle: Some movie about hockey." Obviously you're not from Minnesota; up here that movie is the biggest deal since the '91 Twins. They've been talking about it for weeks. Posted by Kevin at 12:16am on 2 Feb 2004
Ah, indeed. My lack of sports background betrays me. ;) Posted by blahedo at 12:29am on 2 Feb 2004
The Ford GT ad wasn't particularly memorable, but I liked the disclaimer, "Clearly a professional driver on a closed track."

The "Miracle" movie is dramatization of the 1980 winter olympics hockey tournament. The U.S. wasn't expected to come close to medaling. They ended up beating the two most powerful teams in the tourney in the medal round, first the Soviets, then the Finnish team for the gold.

I have no idea of the movie is any good, but the story it tells really lives up to its billing as an epochal moment in history. I hope it does it justice. I'm sure you can find reruns of the original broadcasts on ESPN classic, and maybe even the HBO documentary titled ... well, see below.

The game between the Soviets and the US team is the one everyone remembers. Al Michaels called it, and cemented his place in the pantheon of great sports broadcasters with his call at the end of the game: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" Posted by William at 12:59pm on 2 Feb 2004
Huh. I thought we boycotted the 1980 Olympics? Or was that just the Summer Olympics? Posted by blahedo at 4:26pm on 2 Feb 2004
Just the summer olympics, you got it. Posted by William at 4:34pm on 2 Feb 2004
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