Ow! That’s funny!

The thing that makes the Super Bowl one of the biggest social events of the year are the commercials. Yeah, a championship football game is a big deal and but it is the commercials that attracts the non-football fan to the party, or at least gives them a way to participate in the day if they’ve been dragged along. Plus we all know the big bucks that get lavished on these ads so we hope to see something really distinctive: either super funny or ground-breaking…or spectacularly bad so we can feel smarter than the people who just threw promising careers out the window.

Humor has the biggest appeal and there were several ads that were laugh outloud funny this year, but after awhile I started to notice a common thread to gags that got the biggest reaction. I’ll list these, and you see if you can pick it out:

  • FedEx Caveman
  • Hidden Bud Lights
  • Bud Light Grizzly (save yourself)
  • Michelob Ultra touch football
  • Kick Ass Scarecrow (Coke)

The pay-off on all of these is something violent happening to someone (or something). The Sierra Mist airport metal detector ad was funny, too, while merely implying an unfortunate event about to happen.I know, people have been slipping on banana peels since the days of Vaudeville, and in these commercials the gags are well set up, but it just seems as if the advertising pendulum has swung from bouncing breasts to bouncing people off of things. Chalk it up to Terry Tate, office linebacker, I suppose and a certain amount of boob saturation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it does make you kind of wonder why these got such big laughs (or maybe it was just the group I was with). Of this group, my favorites were the FedEx and Bud Light grizzly ads.

Best ads
The ads I thought were the best overall, however, include the commercials from CareerBuilder (chimps and jackasses) and the Ameriquest “Don’t judge too quickly” ads, one featuring a fly and a fibrillator and the other dealing with unfortunate airplane turbulence. The humor in both the Ameriquest ads revolves around social awkwardness instead of outright pain and destruction – but again we’re laughing at someone else’s discomfort. Both actually made me think of the Southwest airlines “Want to get away?” series that has been running for the past few years. My favorite ad of the day, however, was the Budweiser Clydesdale football game, this year with a “streaker” (though, like the cowboy said, “I didn’t need to see that.”)

Worst ads
I’ve been in and around the advertising business for many years, so I know that you don’t get asked to do a Super Bowl commercial unless you’ve demonstrated some serious chops. Still, I’ve got to wonder what was going through people’s heads when they approved some of these ads for this year’s game. For one, I can’t stand the weird King in the Burger King ads, probably in the same way some people are freaked out by clowns. This particular ad, with the Whopperettes dressed as Whopper ingredients was jaw-droppingly bad. Par for the course for BK, however, as they have historically had some of the worst commercials in history (anyone remember Herb?).

Likewise the Diet Pepsi can ads were overblown productions of very thin concepts. Maybe if you’re already a Diet Pepsi drinker you might enjoy seeing your little buddy mixing with celebrities, but nothing in these efforts gave me any reason to try the beverage. And don’t get me started on “brown and bubbly” – what’s the product benefit of that? Maybe if you’re selling laxitives (I told you not to get me started).

Oh well, you can review all of these ads for yourself here. Which did you like best, or hate the most?

4 thoughts on “Ow! That’s funny!

  1. You are correct about the Diet Pepsi ads. The one that I remember featured P. Diddy and seemed aimed at a particular demographic without being funny or endearing enought (at all) to draw anyone else in. The violence was all of the Wile E. Coyote type and I found it very amusing. GoDaddy was too overtly sexual.

    Once again, the best commercials were for beer. Judging by how slowly everyone was driving I’m guessing that not a few drivers had consumed a few Bud Lights and were being extra careful.

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