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Opinion: Super Bowl XLVIII ads were as bad as Denver Broncos

February 3, 2014

hollar.38@osu.edu
A screenshot of a Super Bowl ad from T-Mobile, starring Tim Tebow.

A screenshot of a Super Bowl ad from T-Mobile, starring Tim Tebow.

Super Bowl XLVIII was, to put it mildly, a bit of a one-sided game — and by that I mean the Seattle Seahawks absolutely destroyed the Denver Broncos.

That’s OK, though, because at least there were those awesome advertisements companies spend millions of dollars on to watch. The game might have been boring, but the ads were still great, right? … Right?

The ads, unfortunately, weren’t much better than the game.

The old standbys were there: Budweiser, Doritos and GoDaddy. The Coca-Cola ad might have been the most popular, even, given the controversy it spurred online. Apparently, splitting “America the Beautiful’s” lyrics into non-English segments rubs some people the wrong way.

But the only reason I can tell you about any of the ads is because I’ve watched them all several times to write this. They otherwise had no staying power, and I would have forgotten them as quickly as I forget Aunt Margaret’s tuna casserole recipe.

Don’t get me wrong — the ads were generally well done. If they had been rolled out gradually throughout the year, they were all the sort of ads that would earn a spot in office water cooler conversations.

But in concentrated volume, they don’t stand out.

Part of the problem, too, might be heightened expectations. The Super Bowl commercials tend to be a pop culture event on par with the game itself.

We expect greatness from our Super Bowl commercials. We want our ads to play like the Seahawks.

Instead, they barely bothered to show up — like the Broncos.

Regardless, here are the best and the worst of the forgettable:

BEST: Tim Tebow’s self-deprecating “no contract” ads for T-Mobile. The joke spanning the three ads hinges on the premise of being able to do amazing things when you don’t have a contract — in Tebow’s case, this means everything from delivering babies to fighting fires to solving world peace. What really sells the joke is that the former quarterback doesn’t have a contract to play in the NFL anymore. Part ad, part tongue-in-cheek comment on Tebow’s career, this is one of two commercials that actually made me laugh.

RUNNER-UP: The “Doberhuahua” Audi ad. The “doberhuahua” is the fantasized product of the interbreeding between a doberman and a chihuahua that results from a couple’s compromise on which dog to get. The resulting hybrid has the body of a chihuahua attached to a comically large Doberman head. Chaos ensues as the new breed competes in dog shows and chases young children, but the gold came in Sarah McLachlan’s willingness to mock her infamously obnoxious American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commercials by storming off when the monster dog attacks her guitar.

WORST: Hands down, this goes to GoDaddy’s bizarre bodybuilders-running-toward-a-spray-tan-salon spot. It was just weird. Imagine a mob of Arnold Schwarzeneggers running through the streets to music better suited for frolicking bunnies in a Disney movie — for a spray tan. It might sound funny on paper, but in practice it was just creepy.

RUNNER-UP: The tedious 90-second Maserati ad with a monologue delivered by 10-year-old Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. The young actress is talented and can give a dramatic performance, but this car ad moved too slowly — not exactly the image a sports car should be giving. In a lengthy mashup of shots of “big things,” like waves in the ocean or skyscrapers, the biggest part was Maserati’s miss: They may have aimed for dramatic, but they hit somniferous.


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