The Top 10 Lessons We Learned From Super Bowl XLIV’s Ads

Geek Culture

Image © Anheuser-Busch, Inc.Image © Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Image © Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

If the numbers are true, 106.5 million people in the U.S. watched Super Bowl XLIV this past Sunday, making it the most-watched program in American history. It stands to reason, therefore, that a lot of geeks were among the audience: some watching for the game, some for the ads, and some for both.

There were no epic, brilliant ads like the iconic “1984” Apple commercial, but there were some memorable bits nonetheless. The ads, at least, were generally more entertaining than The Who were, though someone commented — on Twitter, I think, but I’m not sure — that it was appropriate that The Who were playing at halftime, since they were only half of The Who, anyway.

Without further ado, here are the top ten things we learned from the ads during the Super Bowl:

10. Danica Patrick, despite making a career out of being a woman in what has traditionally been a men-only sport (or activity, depending on your feelings about auto racing), and despite having won a 2008 Kids’ Choice Award and thus obviously being a role model for some kids, has no problem appearing in commercials, airing during an event watched by thousands of kids, in which women are treated like nothing more than sex objects.

9. Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter looks — pardon the technical term — freakin’ awesome. It won’t be as great as it looks, of course, unless they have actually figured out how to get brooms to fly. It is also sort of amusing that they would pay a (presumably) exorbitant amount of money to get Daniel Radcliffe to appear in the commercial, and then have him say just one line in about 1.5 seconds of screen time.

8. NBC is desperate enough to rehabilitate Jay Leno’s public image after the recent debacle that they’ll let him be in a commercial for CBS. This was a seriously surprising ad: I’d be willing to bet that nobody who didn’t know about the commercial beforehand thought Leno would be there.

7. Whoever had the bright idea to put two ads back-to-back (one for and one for Dockers) that featured out-of-shape guys (and some women, but mostly guys) not wearing pants (or, in the first one, shirts) deserves to be flogged. Or maybe forced to watch the commercials over and over again until he goes crazy. If I want to see an out-of-shape guy without pants, all I need is a mirror, thank you very much.

6. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland looks freakishly strange and somewhat disturbing. In other words, like virtually every other Tim Burton movie ever. And, is it just me, or does Johnny Depp’s performance as the Mad Hatter look uncomfortably similar to his performance as Willy Wonka?

5. The word “spine” can be used on broadcast TV as a euphemism for the word “balls.”

4. Betty White is awesome. This is not news, but it bears repeating. The only problem I have with the commercial is that I get the feeling that White, despite being 88 years old, would probably have kicked those guys’ butts if the ad hadn’t been scripted otherwise. As fun as it was, especially with Abe Vigoda showing up at the end, I would have liked it better if the Snickers bar had turned one of the guys into Betty White instead of vice-versa.

3. Google’s simpler-is-better design philosophy translates very well to a TV commercial. It’s nice to see they have a sentimental side, and it’s refreshing to see a commercial that tells a story in a memorable way, but without huge-budget effects or celebrities.

2. The folks at Dodge have evidently abandoned all pretense that any guy is going to buy the Charger as anything other than a way to combat perceived emasculation by their significant others.

1. The folks at Anheuser-Busch went to huge lengths and likely spent a ton of money to make a commercial that was a clever parody of Lost. But putting Bud Light cans instead of glass bottles (which aren’t allowed in passenger cabins of airplanes, for obvious reasons) in the beverage cart for the sake of verisimilitude would, evidently, have been too much trouble.

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