Super Bowl Ads Post-Mortem: Chrysler and Volkswagen Drive Away On Top

They say everyone's an ad critic, especially when it comes to Super Bowl ads. This morning, I checked USA Today's Ad Meter, mainly because it's part of my job. I long ago gave up on the meter as a proper representation of what most viewers like and dislike.  

Bud Light's "Dog Sitter" was number 1 overall? This was by far my least favorite Bud commercial. I thought "Hack Job" and "Wild West" were much funnier. Even "Product Placement" was better, but, then again, I work in the industry and might find this more amusing than others, so I won't count it.  

This, I can overlook. What really put me over the edge was seeing my favorite ad of the evening ranked #44 out of 61, bested even by Groupon. Groupon, people

Chrysler blew me away with "Born of Fire," a two-minute ad promoting the Chrysler 200 and the city of Detroit. For starters, a 120-second Super Bowl ad is a first -- and, if you do the math, not cheap, either. I'm getting emotional thinking about it, from the factory skyline, beautiful and rundown buildings, the powerful voiceover, the beginning beat of Eminem's "Lose Yourself," the choir singing, realizing that Detroit resident Eminem himself is driving the Chrysler shown in the ad, up until he joins the choir onstage, saying: "This is the Motor City. And this is what we do." My favorite line from the voiceover: "This isn't New York City, or the windy city, or sin city, and we're certainly no one's emerald city."

Anyone who's ever had to overcome any obstacle in life can't help but relate and gravitate towards this ad. Kudos, Wieden+Kennedy.

It also redeemed Eminem in my eyes. Did you see his claymation-self shill for Brisk iced tea?

Audi did a great job with "Release the Hounds," and who didn't love watching the re-captured criminal get serenaded by Kenny G? The ad also touched upon the idea of redefining luxury, as did Chrysler's spot.

How can I go this far without mentioning my second favorite ad, Volkswagen's "The Force"? You can feel this kid's emotion, despite never seeing his face. A great job by Deutsch LA.

Grey created my third favorite ad, NFL's "American Family." Classic and recent TV clips are woven together with precision. I loved that Betty White made her second Super Bowl ad appearance in as many years and Alf wore a Carolina Panthers shirt. Fans of the TV series might remember Alf's fondness for eating cats on his home planet.  

I also loved a Fox ad promoting "House." Dr. House, aka Hugh Laurie, recreates Coca-Cola's famous Mean Joe Green ad from 1979. A young boy, who plays Cody on "Dexter," tells House that he's the best. House agrees. The boy offers House his churro and House replies: "My patient just died. You think a Spanish, deep fried snack is going to make things better?" Feeling guilty, House turns to offer the boy a memento: his cane, which clocks the boy square in the head.

I'm a sucker for a love story, so I thought Motorola did a great job with "Empower the People," its homage to Apple's "1984" ad.

By the time the Super Bowl ended, I had blurred the ads for CarMax and together, which is a shame because I enjoyed the CarMax ads, not the Cars.comspots

Personally, I could go on all day. What were your best and worst Super Bowl ads?

8 comments about "Super Bowl Ads Post-Mortem: Chrysler and Volkswagen Drive Away On Top".
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  1. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, February 7, 2011 at 4:34 p.m.

    You nailed it. The Chrysler ad was a classic. Made me want to move to Detroit and help them out myself.

  2. Kelly Samardak from Shortstack Photography, February 7, 2011 at 4:42 p.m.

    LOVED Chrylser. Triumphant. Perfectly captured the attitude of Detroit, a troublemaking ground of my past :)

  3. Casey Quinlan from Mighty Casey Media LLC, February 7, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.

    Loved the Chrysler ad - only thing wrong w/it in my estimation was that it wasn't for Ford ;) Evocative, thought-provoking, and made me want to go to Detroit RIGHT NOW. And visit the Fox Theater.

    Also really liked the VW ad, which made me laugh out loud. As did the "House" promo, which was brilliantly placed.

    HATED the Friday's and Pepsi Max spots. Wasn't impressed w/Groupon, but I didn't lose my **** over content the way some people seem to be losin' it.

    It was not a stellar year for #adbowl. Not a lot of impact. Maybe next year...

  4. Gordon Abel from JP Morgan Chase, February 7, 2011 at 4:48 p.m.

    While inspiring and well shot - I thought Born of Fire missed the mark. It was nice of Fiat owner Sergio Marchionne (who apparently had a heavy hand in the ad) to remind us that Chrysler HQ is still in Detroit. Regarding the lux claim, not sure why they didn't promote the updated near Lux 300 over the boring "new" 200 (a re badged Sebring) - a car Eminem would never drive. BTW interesting that their pitch guy Eminem was on earlier for Lipton Brisk saying "that's why I don't do commercials." Could have been better for estimated $6 million in my book.

  5. John Carroll from Boston University, February 7, 2011 at 5:54 p.m.

    On of the many terrific things about the Chrysler ad was the element of surprise. How old school!

    As for the Groupon, next year maybe they can get the Dalai Lama and hit him in the head with a Pepsi can.

  6. Gregory Martin from TipTop Technologies, February 8, 2011 at 7:04 p.m.

    According to TipTop's SB45 Ad Ratings site, Chrysler's brand sentiment jumped from 17% to 52% positive

    There are both pre & post-game results to share with all those wondering which Super Bowl Ads were most liked or hated, and most exciting or boring. Visit or for more insights.

  7. Nicole Vigil from DISH Network, February 9, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

    I was out of the country for the Super bowl but I had access to high-speed internet so I streamed it on my iPad through my Sling Adapter. I'll be honest I don't even remember the score of the game because the only reason I watched was to see the commercials. My pick is Mercedes-Benz, but being able to watch them at all gave me a great sense of home even though I was far from my sofa.

  8. Sunita Sam from Vaival Technologies, February 28, 2011 at 5:34 a.m.

    On of the many terrific things about the Chrysler ad was the element of surprise, this is so interesting and good, there perfectly captured the attitude of Detroit........thanks for sharing.......:)

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