Adweek’s Take: 5 Best and 5 Worst Super Bowl Ads

Yes, I laughed at Doritos finger sucker and even at the pug spot, although it reminded me too much of one of last year’s “Crash the Bowl” winners that showed a dog take revenge on a man teasing it with the chips with a shock collar. The UGC “Crash” spots, first for Doritos and now also for Pepsi Max, feel more and more like regurgitated Bud Light spots every year. I guess that’s what happens when aspiring filmmakers study past poll winners to produce what they think will be surefire hits. Sadly, it often works.

 

As for the usual animal parade, CareerBuilder brought back its famous chimps in a humorous commercial that put one primate behind the wheel of a car, and a beaver paid it forward in a Bridgestone spot. All cute, funny moments. Bud Light made an unimpressive showing, even with a popular spot showing dogs serving the beer at a house party. And I usually like anything with a cute pooch in it. At least Bud’s Clydesdales spot gave me a chuckle with a Wild West sing-along of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” led by actor Peter Stormare.

Celebrities were everywhere. Roseanne Barr and Richard Lewis gave admirable slapstick performances in a Snickers’ spot, but none of the celebrity-driven ads provided a more oddball pairing than Best Buy’s commercial from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky starring Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber. Osbourne, always befuddled, is behind on technology, so he’s replaced on a shoot by Bieber to highlight the retailer’s buyback program. “What’s a Bieber?” asked by the aging rocker remains my favorite line of the night.

Lots of great comedic moments were spread throughout the ads in the game, but surprisingly enough, the best commercials came from the auto industry this year. 

Adweek’s Five Best

1) VW, “The Force”

Deutsch, Los Angeles

A Star Wars-themed classic. The combination of the unmistakable “Imperial March,” the endearing performance of the mini Darth Vader, the direction of Lance Acord, the editing, all of it, adds up to a sweet, nostalgic spot that memorably highlights the Passat’s remote start-up features. Best is how startled the kid gets when he finally gets his dad’s car to start in the driveway and the double take he gives his parents inside once he regains his footing. Plus, the dad seems to have a look of recognition that he’s been there himself. Relatable all around. Also loved the Beetle “Black Betty” spot, but one VW in the top five is enough.

2) Chrysler, “Born of Fire”

Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

The “Born of Fire” title perfectly sets up Chrysler’s 120-second gritty love letter to Detroit. The two-minute driving tour of the city, directed by Sam Bayer, establishes the premise with the taunting challenge: “I got a question for you. What does this city know about luxury?” The copy, credited to the Wieden team of Joe Staples, Mark Fitzloff, Kevin Jones, Greg Rutter and Dan Kroeger, with art direction by Jim Lasser, powerfully pushes the spot forward, timed to the beats of “Lose Yourself,” as the viewer catches glimpses of Eminem driving the Chrysler 200. “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about the finer things in life? More than most…It’s the hottest fires that make the hardest steel.” The Detroit pride swells along with the music as Eminem finally drives up to a theater where a chorus is singing his song. He turns to the camera with defiant finality: “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.” The ad is nicely capped off with the “Imported from Detroit” tagline.