2012 was the year of the extended pre-release of Super Bowl ads (Volkswagen, Kia, Honda, Acura, Toyota -- notice a categorical trend here, people) and watching my element of surprise fly out the window. I’d like it back.
So many brands released their big game ads ahead of time that I wasn’t truly wowed until halftime with Chrysler’s fabulous love letter to Detroit, starring the voice himself, Clint Eastwood. Last year’s Super Bowl ad, also created by Weiden+Kennedy Portland, starred Detroit native Enimen.
This year, Eastwood’s voice (you don’t need to see him right away to know it’s him) compares halftime at the Super Bowl to America’s economic status, the big difference being that life is no game. Families are struggling with unemployment, wondering how they will play their bills and looking to make a comeback. America is at its halftime and making a comeback, much like the city of Detroit.
“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch,” says Eastwood. “We get right back up again and when we do the world’s gonna hear the roar of our engines.” This ad had me both pumped up and misty-eyed in 120 seconds.
I loved the placement of this ad. I was still reeling with excitement over Betty White’s supreme cameo in a NBC house ad for “The Voice.” Happy to be wanted for her voice rather than her body, White informs the judges that “My eyes are up here.” Having Eastwood’s gritty voice follow this ad was great, even if it brought the comedy level down to a more serious tone.
Don’t get me wrong; there were ads that aired in the first two quarters that I enjoyed, but I’d already seen them and their extended versions, so it was more like replaying a moment from earlier in the week, like “Groundhog Day” for Super Bowl ads.
You either love the vampire craze or hate it, but I enjoyed Audi’s “Vampire Party.” It poked fun at the vampire hype while taking a subliminal swipe -- or should I say bite -- out of Volvo, the car of choice for vampires in the “Twilight” movies.
Chevy, on the other hand, took a full-on jab at Ford in its “2012” ad. In a post-apocalyptic world, survivors included Chevy Silverado drivers and Twinkies. One man, Dave, didn’t survive because he drove a Ford.
I liked Budweiser’s “Return of the King” ad, showcasing the Clydesdales delivering beer following the end of prohibition.
I was surprised that it took Budweiser until the fourth quarter to showcase a comedic beer ad, “Here We Go,” for its Bud Light brand.
Volkswagen had me at the dog walking on the treadmill in “Dog Strikes Back,” the follow-up to last year’s “The Force.” I did think the “Star Wars” tie-in was a bit, for lack of a better word, forced. The ad would have been great had it ended with Bolt chasing the 2012 Beetle. With the movie tie-in, I feel that the ad is saying that nothing can top Darth Vader, even an adorable slimmed-down dog.
I wanted some element of surprise on game day, so I steered clear of one ad until last night: MetLife. And I’m so happy I did. What a trip down memory lane for anyone who watched these cartoons growing up. Sccoby-Doo, Mr. Magoo, Pepe Le Pew, Richie Rich, Fat Albert, He-Man, Charlie Brown, Casper, The Jetsons… an amazing cast of characters. Is Daphne from Scooby-Doo dating Richie Rich? No She-Ra, Smurfs, CareBears? Regardless, I look forward to watching this ad again.
Did anyone interact with the Coca-Cola polar bears or view Go Daddy’s unrarted content online? I did not.
Honda’s uber-extended pre-release with Matthew Broderick paying homage to Ferris Bueller spoiled me. I wish it had run earlier in the game. The pared-down version made it difficult for me to look for additional Bueller-themed Easter Eggs hidden throughout the long version.
Least favorites: Teleflora’s flowers for sex ad, starring Adriana Lima; Pepsi’s “King’s Court,” with Sir Elton John on the throne; Careerbuilder: time to retire the monkeys; and Bud Light Platinum: in one ear and out the other.
What were your favorite and least favorite Super Bowl ads? Post them in the comments section.