Who drafted big stars to shill? Who went for laughs? Who tugged at heartstrings? And who went out of their way to remind us with a sledgehammer, “Sex sells”?
Read our quick take on the commercials from the 1st half of Super Bowl XLVII — refresh for updates! — beneath this handy gizmo for playing back your faves (or ones you missed whilst hitting the loo), then share your own reviews in Comments. (Ads from the 2nd half are reviewed here.)
Budweiser Black Crown | If I may borrow from my review of last year’s Bud spot, for something called “Platinum”: Do we need another beer SKU on the market? The answer, 360-plus days later is: Apparently yes. Black Crown is seemingly targeting douches, with the tagline: “Here’s to taste. Here’s to our kind of beer.” Grade: FUMBLE (A second pool-out using the catchy 2 Broke Girls theme improves nothing.)
M&Ms | The red M&M will do anything for love, he sings — especially when it involves Glee goddess Naya Rivera. He does however draw the line at licking his candy shell, whipped cream and other indignities. This MM loves anything M&M, so: TOUCHDOWN.
Audi | Borrowing dad’s car gives stag prom kid the gusto to lay one on the prom queen prom kid, black eye or no. The “Bravery. It’s what defines us” slogan seems random, but still: FIELD GOAL.
Hyundai | This may be a local/regional spot, but ’twas a cute one, as a wimpy kid rounds up a ragtag team of football players. Grade: FIELD GOAL, if only for when the snotty kid gets blown back by the football toss.
GoDaddy | Supermodel Bar Rafeili very audiblly swaps spit with supergeeky Walter, illustrating the “magic” that happens when GoDaddy’s sexy and business sides meet. Clever, for the usually inane and ham-handed GoDaddy. FIELD GOAL
Doritos | Man buys goat. Goat eats all his Doritos. Guy hides Doritos. Goat gets very, very angry. Something about it was just creepy enough to downgrade the grade to SAFETY.
Pepsi Next | Parents catch son having a house party, but because he’s (allegedly only) serving Pepsi Next aka “real cola taste” with fewer calories, they’ll look past the friend duck-taped to the ceiling. SAFETY
Best Buy | AKA hopefully the first of many ads featuring Amy Poehler. “Which one fits my face? Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word ‘dongle’? Are we in the cloud now?!” TOUCHDOWN, all the way.
Oz, the Great and Powerful | I am still not quite sold on the raison d’etre for this prequel (?), but there are enough nods to the original — including a swarm of flying monkeys — to make me overlook the James Franco factor. Plus: Michelle Williams! SAFETY
Coca-Cola | This sweet spot serves only to note that the world’s increasingly omnipresent security cameras also capture wonderful, reaffirming moments. Since its warm-fuzziness also lightly touches on the pop’s “happiness” theme, it gets a FIELD GOAL.
Oreo | A very quiet ruckus breaks out in a library as people very quietly argue over their fave part of the Nabisco snack — the cookie or the creme. Absurd premise, but the whispered “fire!” and muted police bullhorn earn it an upgrade to SAFETY.
Fast & Furious 6 | I had no idea yet another F&F motion picture was coming our way until Jordana Brewster started tweeting about it — so I consider myself warned. So much high-octane testosterone on display, up to and including Vin Diesel driving a car through and out of the belly of a crashing military transport. Resurrected Ana Lucia scores this a SAFETY.
Toyota Rav IV | Big Bang star Kaley Cuoco is a genie dealing out wishes to a suburban family, ranging from endless chocolate to princess dreams to talking animals. Sadly, it has precious little to do with the car. Only Kaley’s delivery of the, “I heard ‘witches'” line saves it from a total fumble. Grade: SAFETY.
Doritos | Daughter bribes dad with finger-staining chips to drag it up for her princess fashion show; soon enough, his buddies join in, all of them caught by the lady of the house. FUMBLE
Calvin Klein | I wear Calvins when running and working out, but apparently I’m supposed to wear nothing else. Who knew? The visuals and boasts of “360 seamless technology” probably does what needs be done, so: SAFETY.
Cars.com | A couple missing out on the “drama” of car-buying are handed a wolf pup, then introduced to its highly protective, growling mother. Point made! FIELD GOAL
Bud Light | I admit, a lot of this one was lost on me. Net-net, guys with Ravens/49ers voodoo dolls end up seated next to each other at the Big Game. FUMBLE
GoDaddy.co | Did I ever tell you that I had the idea for putting Walkman earbuds into earmuffs, back when I was attending bitter-cold Syracuse U.? Never acted on it, though. This spot ably drives home the point that if you don’t get your idea out there first, you’re last. FIELD GOAL for the smart execution.
Star Trek Into Darkness | Wow, barely any (if any) new footage, though I am convinced more than ever that Benedict Cumberbatch is not playing Khan. But: Spuhura smooch! FIELD GOAL
Milk | Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson forsakes his usual action-hero antics in the pursuit of protein-packed cow juice, then gets to work saving kittens and fighting aliens. SAFETY
Hyundai | This spot amusingly demonstrates how “It’s just better to be in front” of fireworks trucks, leaking toxic tankers and slobbering dogs, with a turbo-enhanced vehicle. Really terrific payoff scores a TOUCHDOWN.
Volkswagen | Some labored to drum up controversy over the “white guy using Jamaican patois” premise, but it’s a nontroversy, truly, since it effectively sells the light, blissful “Get happy” premise. TOUCHDOWN
Coca-Cola | Characters evoking Lawrence of Arabia, rootin’-tootin’ Westerns, Mad Max and… showgirls on a bus?… race across the desert toward a Coca-Cola oasis. Only to find out they have 50 more miles to go! Fun interplay between the rival “gangs” earns this a FIELD GOAL.
Subway | Apparently, the infamous Jared took it off and kept it off for 15 years now, thanks to his Subway “fit” diet. I love a foot-long BMT as much as the next guy, but: Who cares? FUMBLE
Taco Bell | Another college memory: Remind me to show you the near-identical storyboard I did for my Advertising Campaigns course, but for Burger King, showing retirement home folk sneaking out for a fast food fix. I’ll overlook that theft, though, since the “Goldblatt” tattoo gave a chuckle. Add in “We Are Young” en Espanol and you get a FIELD GOAL
Skechers | Cheetah chases innocent gazelle. Guy in Skechers chases, catches and hogties the predator, thus saving the day. Earns fist bump from gazelle. Mad amounts of puffery, of course, and is anyone really buying Skechers for performance? Or am I out of the loop? FUMBLE
Scientology | I was keystroking/half-listening when this first came on, had to hit replay to realize — since the word was never said, only shown at the very end — that it was for Scientology, inviting free-thinkers to discover “what’s true, for you.” For a commercial facing the tricky task of selling a belief system amidst beer and taco ads, I’ll give it a SAFETY.