Of course, there were some roars Sunday in Green Bay and Pittsburgh during the Super Bowl, but some of the loudest per capita had to be in the Fox production truck early in the first quarter. After identifying superstars Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz romancing in a box, the crew had to erupt when landing the money shot of Diaz cooingly feeding A-Rod a handful of popcorn.
While the Fox staff was reveling, play-by-play announcer Joe Buck offered up a mocking: "Sure Alex was thrilled we just put the camera on him at that moment." Yankee fans have long memories. And Joey from Queens won't be so quick to come to A-Rod's defense when the slugger struggles this season, calling talk radio to rant against his Super Bowl sojourn, saying he should have spent the day in the batting cage.
Fox cameras mined the celebrity box for more than A-Rod's amorousness, where the shots that lasted only a few seconds provided more entertainment than the lengthy halftime show. There was former Fox analyst John Madden sitting next to ex-President George W. Bush. They had so much to talk about that Madden started texting. Ashton Kutcher, still smarting from his Bears not making the game, was sitting alone.
Oh, how great a continuous live feed of the box would have been on FoxSports.com!
The celebrity motions may have been the most intriguing off-the-field activity during the first quarter. Certainly, the first two ads in the game weren't particularly provocative.
Bud Light and Doritos seemingly knew they had some winners in their back pockets, and didn't want to throw long too early, so they went for screen passes.
The first spot of the game came from Bud Light, with an annoyingly enthusiastic host of a home improvement show revealing a remodeled kitchen. The upgrade: just a tub of Bud Light on the counter. To the degree, it was a spoof of the unbridled excitement shown by "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's" Ty Pennington - or HGTV -- it was mildly entertaining. Worthy of the first spot in the Super Bowl? Nah.
Bud Light came back strong, however, a bit later in the quarter with a witty jab at how ludicrous product placement on TV can be. A director finds out the more times he integrates a brand in his show, the more free stuff he gets. Enter: a production full of absurd Bud Light branding. And the payoff is a Bud Light delivery truck. (Quick question: Can't Bud Light come up with a better tagline than "Here We Go"?)
After Bud Light opened the game, Doritos followed with a similarly frustratingly go. A man tempts a dog by dangling a bag of the chips and the eager dog plows right through him. Doritos' second first-quarter spot was the type that works best in a Super Bowl even if it isn't Cannes Lion stuff: witty, humorous -- and easy to follow amid the hubbub of a Super Bowl party. Not to mention ending with a man with his pants off.
The ad starts with a guy finishing a bag of Doritos and a work colleague lamenting there are none left. But there is some residue, and he licks his colleague's fingers for a taste. Later after another colleague finishes a bag and wipes his hands on his pants, the hungry man rips them off to inhale the Doritos smell.
Audi's spot - the game's third -- was well conceived, funny and did a nice job jabbing Mercedes. Audi featured two men escaping a luxury prison and the guards can't seem to stop them - at one point hoping the melodious sounds of Kenny G will stop them. When they get out, one man takes a Benz only to find himself back behind velvet bars, as it were, while the other speeds away in the new luxury of an Audi.
The ad does pose a problem, which is with a Super Bowl party's commotion it is a bit layered and tough to follow. So, Audi would do well to run it a bunch more times in the weeks ahead to garner the appreciation it deserves. (One barometer on how successful the ad may be is whether Kenny G has a sudden bump in album sales.)
Pepsi Max seems to have taken a page from the Bud Light juvenile gambits as its two first-quarter spots offered a punch line that was essentially a punch: a can nailing someone. One takes down a man by hitting him in the mid-section. This stuff always works. The Max spots call to mind a great Sprint ad from a few years ago, where a man extols the worth of his phone, including self-defense, then knocks someone out with it.
The opening quarter's second-to-last spot was a 60-second offering for Kia that might actually do well in a showdown at Cannes, but not help in a showroom. It was meandering and weirdly action-packed -- with a super-charged helicopter, a spaceship, aliens and a Zeus-type rising from the waters. Confusing and it takes 57 seconds beore it becomes clear it's for Kia.
The final ad was good stuff with an animated Eminem explaining why he doesn't deign to do commercials. Marketers can't usually meet his demands and he usually hates their products. Turns out, he actually likes the Lipton Brisk tea he's endorsing, but he ends frustrated because he's told his name won't be placed on the brand.An Emin-ent spot.