Monday, February 06, 2012

A Pretty Super Super Bowl (and a few words about my favorite commercials)

Photo Credit: Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
As a Chicago Bears fan--and don't get me started on how for the second year in a row, a team that was worse than the Bears at the end of November won the Super Bowl--I have no particular affinity for the New York Giants.

I also have no real fondness, nor distaste, for the New England Patriots, so on that level, the Super Bowl didn't provide any acute joy nor sorrow.

But as has mostly been the case over the past decade, the game itself was really good. Perhaps not in execution--the Pats started out lethargically and there were a number of dropped passes and a few sloppy penalties--but in terms of drama, until literally the last second.

I know many people watch the Super Bowl more for the hoopla--the parties, the pregame, the anthem, the halftime show, the commercials, etc.--and I'll share some thoughts on many of these. Yet I enjoyed that the best thing about Super Bowl XLVI was the football game.

Along with seemingly everyone else who has weighed in, I have to give major props to Eli Manning. His career passer rating of 82.1 may lag well behind his brother Peyton, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and even Jay Cutler, and his regular season winning percentage of 58% as a starter is behind all of the above except Cutler--by comparison, Brady's is 78%--but he has now won two Super Bowls, against the Patriots, in the most clutch fashion imaginable. Along with punching his ticket for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I believe he deserves to be called a better big-game quarterback than his brother.

Much credit has deservedly been given to Mario Manningham for making an incredible catch--and staying in bounds--at the most important of moments. But look again at how good a throw Eli made, threading the needle between two defenders and the sideline.

Certainly, Brady also ranks as one of the greatest football players of all time. But when he had a chance to put the game away, he failed to do so. Yes, Wes Welker should have caught the throw he dropped--one of a number of drops that had Brady's wife Gisele whining after the game--but the pass was a bit behind Welker, and on the next play, Brady failed to get the ball into Deion Branch's hands.

Perhaps simply because of their better regular season record (13-3 vs. the Giants' 9-7), the Patriots were seemingly the "better team" going in. But they were somewhat lucky to escape against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game, and in addition to yesterday and famously in Super Bowl XLII--ruining their perfect season--the Pats lost a November regular season home game to the Giants, who then fell to the 49ers, Saints, Eagles and Packers in the following weeks. The Patriots are commonly called the best team of their era, but that acclimation rings a bit hollow if Belichick, Brady, et. al. have been unable to solve Coughlin, Manning and the Giants.

It feels a bit like men's tennis, where Roger Federer is oft regarded as the best ever, but is 9-18 against Rafael Nadal, including 2-8 in majors.

Anyway, as I move onto Madonna and the ads, I offer my Congratulations to the Giants.

First I'll say that I thought the National Anthem by Kelly Clarkson and America the Beautiful by Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton were properly classy. Well-sung without any drama or forgotten lyrics. Although given the game's setting in Indianapolis, I would've chosen John Mellencamp to sing the anthem.

At least among my Facebook community, Madonna seems to be getting high marks for her halftime performance. I think she did her job rather well, though in addition to likely lip-synching (and/or being substantially aided by a backing vocal track), her whole performance felt as though it was pre-recorded, probably due to the short tape delay that added a weird veneer to my picture.

In reading other perspectives on Madonna's routine today, there appears to be excess hubbub over M.I.A. flashing her middle finger. Until I read about it, I didn't even know M.I.A. (or Nikki Minaj for that matter) was onstage, let alone that she flipped me off.

My only problem with Madonna, and she isn't to blame for this, is that even more than with halftime shows of the recent past--mostly classic rock acts--there was just something too extravagantly surreal going on in the middle of an exciting football game. But simply as an entertaining 13-minute performance, it was well-done.

Of acts yet to perform on a Super Bowl halftime show, to me an obvious choice is AC/DC. Although playing to the typical football crowd is seemingly of lesser and lesser importance. Perhaps they could be paired with Lady Gaga.

And for the commercials...

In sum, as usual, I was underwhelmed. Too much overtly silly and forgettable humor, and those weren't the worst ones. But I'll focus mainly on what I remember liking, aided by watching a few again today.

I liked the Best Buy ad that saluted the technological wizards responsible for key inventions. I also liked--more so it seems than its USA Today AdMeter score--the following Pepsi ad with Elton John, Flavor Flav and a singer I've now learned is Melanie Amaro, an X-Factor winner who did a good job with "Respect." Certainly a bit over-the-top, but Flav's appearance near the end provides a needed jolt of self-awareness.

I tend to like when celebrities are used--properly--in Super Bowl ads, so the Acura ad with Jerry Seinfeld and the Honda spot with Matthew Broderick spoofing his turn as Ferris Bueller were enjoyable, or perhaps more importantly, memorable. Clint Eastwood provided gravitas for the Chrysler ad about Detroit, but it was too long and I kept waiting for him to say "Go ahead, make my day." I didn't much care for seeing Donald Trump, Danica Patrick--in yet another dumb Go Daddy ad--David Beckham or even the beautiful Adriana Lima, who showed up in a few different spots.

Contrary to other opinion, I also didn't care much for the Coca-Cola polar bears, the Audi ad that kills off vampires or the Chevy Silverado that kills off almost everyone. The Bud Light "Weego" ad was funny for what it was, but dogs with the ability to fetch beer has been way overdone.

For it's originality, I enjoyed the commercial below for Fiat. It utilizes a pretty girl better than most Super Bowl ads, including this one for Kia, and while I think ads that don't reveal the product until the very end run a risk of having viewers miss (or not remember) the brand, the reveal that this is for Fiat came as enough of a surprise--I don't think I've ever seen a Fiat ad--that it works.

And as for my favorite Super Bowl commercial of 2012:

I'm not saying that this Samsung spot is all that hilarious, and though I once enjoyed The Darkness circa 2003, I'm not sure Justin Hawkins needed to be resurrected sporting a Rasputin look. I'm also not sure what Brian Urlacher is doing there, nor a gospel choir for that matter. But for advertising the unique value of a new product--e.g. a stylo pen for the Samsung Galaxy Note phone--while poking a bit of fun at Apple, its hardcore devotees and even the ad itself--the last line is "Well that was over the top--I think it works quite well overall.

I'm not likely to rush out to get a Galaxy Note, but I'm much more curious than I would've been without seeing this commercial. A great ad--even during the Super Bowl, when typical advertising tenets needn't always apply--shouldn't just make you chuckle (and few even accomplish that), it should ideally make you want to buy something. Or at least learn more and/or feel better about the product/brand. This one does that.

Well, there you have it. The official end of yet another unsuccessful season for the Bears. Pitchers and catchers report in 12 days.

1 comment:

Sam_KiaOutreach said...

Hey Seth,

We're really glad you liked our ad! Heads up - we have more videos from the commercial on our YouTube channel. Check them out here to the right of the page:

And if you feel like voting for an ad, show us some love here:

Many Thanks!
Sam - Kia Outreach Team