NEW YORK I could honestly say that I was disappointed in this year's crop of Super Bowl ads, that most weren't all that special or even worth a late-night cable buy, let alone the $2.6 million that gets prime positioning during the game.
But I won't. The truth is, just like every other year, there were highlights and lowlights. And at least this year I didn't feel like throwing anything at my TV.
The first of Anheuser-Busch's in-game spots displayed the brewery's standard fare of buddy comedy: Two guys reach for the last Bud Light. A game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" should resolve the issue, and it does, when one guy hits the other in the head with a rock.
I don't know about you, but I'm bored with the Bud boy humor. Even a puppy riding a Clydesdale hitch and talking gorillas didn't get me to crack a smile.
The best of the brewery's spots was the hitchhiker ad: a couple picks up a man holding an axe and a six-pack (he assures them it's a can opener). The three of them balk at picking up the next guy looking for a ride because he's got a chainsaw. And that was the best of the bunch from A-B.
It was good to see Coca-Cola back on the game, especially with two spots that felt big and special thanks to arresting animation. One turned the violent world of Grand Theft Auto into a feel-good spot preaching, "give a little love." The other provided an enthralling ride through "the happiness factory"—a Coke vending machine. Even though I'd seen this spot before, my eyes were still glued to the TV, spotting little critters I hadn't noticed before. I wish I could say that about more of the commercials.
At least with the consumer-generated spots you can say, okay, they are just kids who have a lot to learn. But what were some of the professionals ad makers thinking? Take the office workers trying to survive the jungle for CareerBuilder.com. I like the new line, "Do more than just survive the workweek," but these ads made me miss the chimps. Or the American Heart Association's decision to show thugs literally pummeling a heart (to symbolize high blood pressure). And thankfully, I only see GoDaddy.com commercials once a year.
The amateur spots were surprisingly good. Doritos decided to run both contest finalists on the game. The crash spot didn't do much for me, but the performance of the checkout girl got me laughing, even with the expected "clean up at register six" joke.
But in the end, I couldn't help myself. The elaborate productions made me happiest of all.
The Garmin spot with the map monster vs. the laser-beam-shooting GSP hero was a great tribute to cheesy sci-fi movies. FedEx's office on the moon wasn't as funny as last year's cavemen, but it was still fun to watch (was that a squirrel floating by?) And yes, the sad suicidal GM robot did make me feel more than Bud's dirt-smeared pooch. But it also made me miss R2D2. He never let Darth get him down.
Eleftheria Parpis is creative editor of Adweek.