Super Bowl XLV: What Were the Night's Best (and Worst) Ads?

Super Bowl XLV (aka Ex-El-Vee) is in the books, and the team with the yellow pants won a glorious victory. Wait, they were both wearing yellow pants. I don’t think Nina Garcia would’ve approved. But I digress. A hearty congrats goes out to the Green Bay Packers (sponsored by Cheese ™), and now that we’ve got the sports shenanigans out of the way, let’s talk about the evening’s other high-stakes game: The battle among Madison Avenue firms to create the ultimate Super Bowl ad.

Below, you’ll find my picks for the three best and three worst spots of the night, but by keeping my list tighter than a pair of Lycra pants, I’m gonna bet more than a few of you will have bones to pick with my selections. So head to the comments to rail against my glaring omissions and questionable taste. Heck, the pug fan in me might pop down there and join you in a glass of Haterade! (Oh, and to get up-to-the-second alerts about all my TV coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.)

Super Bowl XLV’s Three Best Ads

3. (tie) Chrysler’s ‘Motor City’ (featuring Eminem): A haunting and unexpectedly beautiful love letter to Detroit from the folks at Chrysler, with Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” pulsating in the background. “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about the finer things in life?” asked a stark voiceover, as gorgeous images of the Motor City filled the screen Yes, the point seemed to be that luxury is borne of toil and sweat and hard work, but suddenly I want to take a weekend architectural tour of Detroit.

3. (tie) Carmax’s ‘Service Station’: Modern man freaks out big-time when confronted with ’50s-era service. Tell me I’m not the only one who howled at the “I’m being carjacked!” punch line.

2. Audi 8’s ‘Rich Man’s Prison Break’: The details in this ad about two rich older dudes breaking out of an upper-crust prison — the charge of the elegant Afghan hounds, the “hit ’em with the Kenny G!” battle cry — were deliciously absurd, and that cameo from the cheesy sax man himself was a total touchdown.

1. Volkswagen Passat’s ‘Mini Darth Vader’: If you haven’t watched it yet, then far be it from me to spoil even a single detail. Press play below for the most adorable/hilarious ad of Super Bowl XLV. (Bonus points to the German car company for its “Black Betty” VW Beetle ad, an anthropomorphic joy ride that came thisclose to making my list as well.)

Super Bowl XLV’s Three Worst Ads

3. Groupon.com’s ‘Tibet’ (featuring Timothy Hutton): Hours later, I still haven’t gotten over the unpleasant tonal shift from “crisis in Tibet” to “amazing fish curry!” Yeah, this one was about as tasteful and fun to watch as car tires connecting with a baby bunny.

2. Brisk Iced Tea’s ‘Animated Eminem’: It was the best of Em (see Chrysler ad, above), and this was the worst of Em, as the snarling animated rapper explained his disdain for shilling product. Did they really end this spot with a tuxedo-clad ad exec getting pushed off the top of a tall building?

1. Pepsi Max’s ‘First Date’: Look, I wouldn’t have been so offended by this ad’s willingness to exploit ugly sterotypes about men (all they want from women is sex!) and women (all they care about is how much a guy makes!) if it had been, y’know, funny. But this limp noodle of an ad was as ugly and uninspired as the decor of the restaurant in which it was set. (This ad can’t have been generated by the same agency contest that produced the earlier — and much funnier — spot where the dieting woman hurls a soda can at her man, and takes out the flirty blonde jogger instead, can it?)