Pop Culture

Super Bowl Commercials 2011: The Wrath of Ailanthus-altissima

So who watched some football last night? Well, OK, who watched an hour long game of football punctuated by 27 commercial breaks from kick-off to final down? I did! And if you didn’t but you still want to know what happened during the ads, stay here: I’ve got the Best and Worst 3 ads of the night and a list of all the ads in order of appearance. Let’s get cookin’:

Best 3: Hall of Fame

Volkswagen ““ The Force. A small child dressed as Darth Vader tries to use the force on a dog, a baby doll, a washing machine, an elliptical trainer, and finally, on their father’s car. The dad plays along and the kid is really stoked about using the force. I don’t even care for Star Wars and I find it adorable. Best part (and maybe I’m reading too much into this) but the room they show is a girl’s room (using standard gender stereotypes) but the commercial shows no other children, so I assume that that’s little Darth’s room and that Darth is a girl. How adorable (minus the troubling idea that she will grow up to be a force of evil).

    Bridgestone ““ Carma. Call me a softie but whenever I see people rewarded for saving the lives of forest creatures, my heart swells two sizes. It was a tidy story that showed us all what it means to be a part of this entangled ecosystem we call “earth.” Or whatever.

    Doritos ““ House sitting. A roommate is so into Doritos that he neglects his roommate’s living things (fish, plant). Fortunately, Doritos are both the cause of the problem and the solution. OK, it’s not like this is comedy gold or anything, but this commercial really speaks to the target demographic (college students, stoners, Liz-Lemon-esque people who feel the need to munch on cheez product at all times) and it keeps its product in frame at all times. Were there better commercials? Sure. But I can’t remember what they’re selling.

      Worst 3: Hall of Shame ““ Tibet. This is by far the worst commercial of the night. By far. I don’t think there are words, but I’ll try. They start off talking about how Tibet is beautiful but in trouble but oh LOLZ they can still make a good fish curry which you can buy for cheap in a restaurant in Chicago thanks to Groupon! Oh man, and at one point they pan down this man who is wearing what we’re led to believe is traditional garb only to have him turn out to be a waiter serving the asshole who is making all these dismissive, terrible statements. Yeah. No. Awful. So awful. ““ The Reviews are In. Nothing like some sexual harassment in the workplace to make for some hiiii-larious jokes! Come on, ladies! We just want to talk about how you look topless and suggest you try out our smooth ride! Totally appropriate and not sexist. AND! At the end, there’s a bit where one couple says something about a black/gray mini-van having a large rear, which upsets the van. Yeah. I don’t even know.

        Pepsi Max- Love Hurts and Pepsi Max ““ First Date. First, they use the angry black woman stereotype and have her accidentally attack a white woman with a soda can after her husband ogles the white woman (yeah let’s reinforce that beauty ideal hierarchy). Then, they have a man think about nothing but sex on a first date and a woman think about his money. Basically, Pepsi is using insulting representations of both men and women to the extent that it just really pushes me over the edge.  There is NOTHING, to salvage from these commercials. That’s it. I am sticking with Coke products.

          What did you think? Any you loved? Any you hated? Any you wish that dude in the cubicle next to yours would stop quoting?

          (All ads in order, click through for video: Budweiser ““ Hack Job, Doritos ““Pug Attack, Audi- Release the hounds, Doritos ““The Best Part, Chevy Cruze ““ Misunderstanding, Pepsi Max- Love Hurts , Bud Light – Product placement, Chevy Silverado ““ TommyFast Five movie, Pepsi Max ““ Torpedo Cooler, Doritos ““ House sitting, Hyundai Elantra ““ Hypnotize, Cowboys and Aliens  movie, Kia Optima ““ One Epic Ride, Brisk ““ Eminem commercial, Bridgestone ““ Reply All, Chevy Volt ““ Discovery, New Go Girl, Budweiser ““ Wild West, Teleflora ““ Help me Faith, Transformers movie, BMW X3: Defying Logic, Motorola ““ Empower the People, BMW Advanced Diesel ““ Changes, Coca-Cola ““ Seige, Thor movie, Volkswagen ““ The Force, Snickers ““ Logging, ““ Parking Lot, Super 8 movie, Chevy  Cruze ““ Status,  Captain America movie,  Castrol Edge replay,  Carmax ““ Kid in a Candy Store, Android ““ Play, Acura ““ Sports car/wagon, Dodge Ram, ““ Halftime 1, ““ Halftime 2,

          Chevy ““ Eco-friendly, X finity from Comcast, Chase Bank ““ Quick deposit, The Daily, ““ Go First, E-trade ““ Tailor, Best Buy with Ozzie and Justin Bieber, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Mini USA ““ Cram it in the boot, ““ Test Baby, Hyundai Elantra ““ Deprogramming, ““ Tibet, Coca-cola ““ Border, Stella Artois ““ Crying Jean, Carmax ““ Gas Station, Chrysler Eminem ““ Imported from Detroit, NFL ““ American Family, Jack in the Box ““ I love America, Cadillac, Rango movie, ““ The Reviews are In, Bud Light ““ Dog sitter, Hyundai ““ Anachronistic city, Pepsi Max ““ First Date, Rio the movie, Bridgestone ““ Carma, Go Daddy ““ The Contract, Volkswagen ““ Black Beetle, Mercedes Benz ““ Welcome, Camero ““ Miss Evelyn, Apple/Verizon, Limitless movie, Sketchers with Kim Kardashian.)

          Image Credit from MorgueFile

          26 replies on “Super Bowl Commercials 2011: The Wrath of Ailanthus-altissima”

          *Sigh* Every year there are non-human apes used in commercials and it makes me sad and angry. I’m about to post a bunch of links for those who’d like to learn more. The basics are that the chimps and orangutans you see in commercials, movies, and TV shows are babies or juveniles, taken away from their mothers too early and taught to act in unnatural ways. When they become adults they are no longer “cute” and are so strong that they cannot be made to do what the trainers want. So they are “retired.” But they can’t live with others of their kind because they had such an unnatural upbringing. Also, seeing these animals so often in the media might lead people to think they are plentiful, but they are not. They are endangered. Please spread the word to your friends who think these ads are funny, and consider boycotting the companies who advertise with chimps and orangutans.

          Excellent, A-A! So glad to see you as an official Persephoneer.

          Love your tumblr updates and love this summary of the commercials.

          Am still seething about that Groupon ad–WTHello Kitty, it was directed by Christopher Guest?! He went “balmy” after becoming a baron?

          Gold star to the little Darth Vader–she is a terrific physical actress. Think about it, she had a giant helmet, but her body language was spot on. I agree it was a She Vader.

          I had no idea Christopher Guest was involved. Let me get the bad jokes out of my system – he sent my rage to an 11; I wonder if Inigo Montoya could be convinced to come back and teach him another lesson; something something WORST in show.

          At least, from what I can tell, the ad is getting a lot of flack.

          I was stuck in the car all night and didn’t watch the game, so I missed them all in first run. I managed to catch a bunch of them online yesterday. (I hadn’t seen the little beaver one, though, so I’m glad you posted it! That’s definitely one of my new favorites.)

          I love the Darth Vader one, of course. And I like the one where the two guys are designing the car ad as it goes along. (She’s a teacher? Yeah, she’s a teacher!) Also, I’m not from Detroit, but I am from a similarly rust-belt town. I don’t know how well the Chrysler: Imported from Detroit ad will sell cars, but it was really great in lots of other ways.

          I’ve been thinking a lot about the Imported from Detroit commercial and for me, it didn’t work. I felt like the commercial’s thrust was dictated entirely by its emotional appeal. I didn’t even know what they were selling until the end, and I didn’t feel like their ad stuck together (voice-over tells us it won’t show us poverty porn, camera scans over dilapidated buildings).

          I can see how someone who can relate to Detroit/Detroit’s story would like it and I know a lot of people who really, really loved the commercial. But as an outsider, it felt a bit manipulative.

          I’m still forming my opinion on this, so I’d love to hear what really worked about the commercial for you.

          In terms of advertising a product, I don’t think they did a very good job. If I didn’t know it was a car ad before I started watching, it would have taken me a while to figure it out.

          In terms of advertising Detroit, I think it did a great job of capturing the spirit of the city. I say that having never been there but whose town tells a similar story. I come from a place where people get really, really excited when they even hear the name of our city in passing. We are highly protective of our hometown and quick to jump to its defense when someone maligns it. We get tingly and teary just thinking about that Superbowl we almost won a decade and a half ago, when people had more to talk about than just snow when discussing the place. We’re quick to remind anyone who will listen that the sons and daughters of our town come from here.

          We’re not the same as Detroit, but we’re sisters. And something like this ad that highlights the grit and tenacity and pure stubbornness of its people, tinged with the hope that something better is coming for it, makes you know that the folks from Detroit and their inferiority complex about not being Chicago (much like ours about not being New York) are just swelling with pride. You see dilapidated buildings, I see potential.

          I think it’s something that is hard to define and very hard to appreciate unless you come from a similarly rust-belt city, a place that was once on top of the world but crumbled at some point, whose residents have not much left but their pride and love for their hometown.

          Thank you for that. I lived in St. Louis for a time and I remember seeing the vestiges of a once booming city, but I don’t believe it ever qualified as Rust Belt and it’s certainly not in the same shape as Detroit. It’s still eerie to look around at what once was and to feel the city slipping out to the suburbs as people continue to leave. I can see how it’d be great to see something emphasizing the pride in what once was and what will hopefully be again.

          I didn’t watch the game but I’ve seen two of the commercials. Naturally, they are two of the worst. I had to watch the Groupon one as soon as a video of it was posted. I’m still staggered by how awful and exploitative it was. What was Timothy Hutton thinking? What was anybody involved with its production thinking?

          The Pepsi Max Love Hurts ad was disgusting on just about every level. It left no base stereotype unexplored.

          Thanks, A-A, for watching and critiquing so that I didn’t have to and could preserve my sanity.

          If I had to choose a favorite Doritos commercial, it would definitely be the Pug Attack one. I did also love the product placement ad, Carmax “Kid in a Candy Store” ad, and the “Imported from Detroit” ad. Loved the Darth Vader ad.

          Overall, I thought the general ad quality improved this year. There was less “We’re going to use our 30 seconds to show you tits covered in our logo!” Okay, yes, some of the ads definitely ad sexist stories, but at least they had stories.

          I really liked the pug one, but with one quibble – I have yet to meet a dog that loves corn chips. In my experience, the hound-palate prefers potatoes?

          I agree that with a few exceptions, the ads just weren’t as awful as last year. Maybe the NFL realized that women make up, what, like 50% of the Super Bowl audience and wised up. I do not miss those Flo TV ads.

          Pugs are like goats. Mine eats trash, everything in the great outdoors, people food, whatever it is, he will eat it. Over the past few years, I’ve had friends whose dogs have turned their noses up at treats, so my friends will give them to me, saying, “I’m not sure if your dog will like these, but I didn’t want them to go to waste.” My dog eats mulch. I haven’t found anything he WON’T eat.

          I loved the Force ad. And the “First Date” Pepsi one? Well, first of all, didn’t one of the cheap beer companies do that first? And secondly, I dated that guy in college. Literally, I’m pretty sure that exact guy was my first college boyfriend. So that was weird.

          Beer commercials did it first and they keep doing it. Have you seen Budweiser’s “Schmeplication” commercial? Yeech – it’s so bad it kept me from including even the somewhat decent Bud commercials on this list (mostly the product placement one because it made me think of the Simpsons and Wang Computers…yes I’m a nerd).

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