Super Bowl Critique: Dennis Ryan

By Dennis Ryan, chief creative officer, Element 79 in Chicago

This year’s Super Bowl ads were fine. Just fine. Some were really expensive, and a few were decidedly cheap, but overall, they were fine.

Of course, after two weeks of USA Today and “Entertainment Tonight” whipping TV viewers into a white-hot fever that somehow makes them forget commercials are the reason many of them are buying TiVo, it’s hard not to be let down by “fine.”

Most ads weren’t bad, it’s just that none were transcendent. Nothing felt “Holy crap, didja see that?!” There was lotsa animal high jinks, lotsa effects and, frankly, lotsa Dale Earnhardt Jr., but nothing that crackled with surprise or delight.

I liked Staples and the soap-eating kids and the eliminated NFL stars singing “Tomorrow,” as least as much as I can enjoy anyone singing Broadway show tunes. MasterCard did a nice job capturing the Simpsons’ voice. The Pepsi bear ad was jolly, corny fun. And, yep, I’m gonna see “Starsky and Hutch” in the theater.

But I don’t get why Charmin thought it necessary to trot out an “only in some parallel ad world” setup and make an unfortunate reference to “your end zone.” Or what the deal is with throwing a football through a tire swing. Or why networks still bother with a halftime show, though it’s nice to see MTV can stage a spectacle just as silly as the big networks’.

The one head-snapping line of copy in the entire broadcast came courtesy of Eli Lilly’s Cialis, which carried the sober disclaimer that “erections lasting longer than four hours–though rare–require immediate medical help,” as if that might actually come as news to anyone.

As we say in Chicago, maybe next year.