It was a big month for spots, with the Super Bowl

It was a big month for spots, with the Super Bowl and the Olympics providing ample opportunity for marketers to strut out their best of the year. At least, that’s the expectation. But the problem with expectations is that they are always followed by disappointments.

The mood of the Super Bowl advertising this year seemed to be constraint; lots of familiar feeling sight gags and little payoff. The most unexpected surprise came from FedEx. A caveman tries to send a stick by pterodactyl, but a tyrannosaurus rex munches on it midflight. The caveman’s boss tells him he should have used FedEx. He pleads with his boss, explaining that “FedEx doesn’t exist yet,” but the boss is unsympathetic and fires him. The caveman storms out of the cave and kicks a baby dinosaur out of his way. His next step is his last, as he is then crushed by an enormous dino passing by, who stomps on him like an elephant pulverizing an ant. The spot is a nice change from the office-driven dramas we usually see from FedEx, and heightens the humor to absurd proportions. Just what we need for game breaks.

Besides GoDaddy, which again trotted out unravelling tank-top girl for its second Super Bowl appearance, Ameriquest was the only advertiser to dare to broach anything closely resembling a sexual theme. Last year, Ameriquest used the game to introduce its “Don’t judge” campaign. Its sophomore effort, particularly “Friendly Skies,” was just as entertaining. A woman tries to maneuver her way to the bathroom during a flight. The airplane hits turbulence, and when the lights come on again, she’s found straddling the lap of a just-awakened male passenger.

From the biggest game advertiser, Anheuser-Busch, came a sheep streaking a hoof-footed game for Budweiser (a cute bare-butted wiggle capped the performance); a “magic fridge” for Bud Light; and a foal who longs to pull the hitch. (The latter was a sweet spot, but haven’t we seen a similar daydream from an envious donkey?)

One of the most refreshing takes on obligatory food shots in fast-food ads came from Burger King. A big musical number with singing dancers dressed like the ingredients of a Whopper culminates in a crescendo of food flopping on stage to form a Whopper topped with Burke Brooke as top bun. Now wouldn’t it be great if everyone treated must-have crispy lettuce and tomato shots with a similar sense of humor?

Only a spattering of Olympics ads grabbed us. Expedia’s spot about how buying travel-size toiletries tells everyone you’re going on vacation is amusing enough. Visa’s “Life Takes” is a montage spot of feel-good images, but you can’t help but feel it, even though it’s a credit card telling you that life is a joy. Coca-Cola has gone back to basics, playing with its brand colors and heritage (such as “Buy the World a Coke” jingle and top-secret “formula”) in copy-driven ads that connect.

The most unusual debut came from Volkswagen, which broke spots for the GTI with a compelling, yet unsettling character named “Fast” who represents the driver’s inner need for speed. It’s not female-friendly, but intriguing nonetheless.