by Rachel Petzinger
This year, the Super Bowl had a little bit of something for everybody. Of course, there was the suspenseful football game for the sports fans. Then there was the halftime show starring legendary pop icon Madonna, along with younger artists, Cee Lo, Nicki Minaj, MIA, and LMFAO, for the more music-minded viewers. But this year, the commercials seemed to really be trying to reach out to a large audience, though some were more successful than others.
One trend seemed to be a somewhat overuse in cute canine actors. It makes sense, since a wide variety of people like dogs—guys and gals, young and old, Giants and Patriots. One of the most creative of this batch would have to be the brilliant Doritos commercial with a man witnessing his dog burying a cat collar. After he sees this, his dog bribes him with a bag of Doritos to him with a note saying: “You didn’t see nuthin.”
One dog centric commercial that surprisingly did not score quite as strongly would be Bud Light’s “Weego” ad, starring a scruffy yet cute rescue pup named Weego. Weego is trained to fetch his owner a beer every time he calls, “Here, Weego,” in the spirit of a football chant song. Although the dog is delightful to watch, as he balances on a keg of beer, the commercial itself is pretty predictable.
Another way of reaching different audiences seemed to be the use of celebrities in commercials—specifically in car ads. Jerry Seinfeld appeared in a commercial for Acura NSX—in which he tried to convince Acura’s “number 1 customer” into giving him his new car. Seinfeld offers to do mundane tasks to get the car, as well as giving the man all of his “I’m-Jerry-Seinfeld-Luxuries,” which includes a zipline running across Manhattan. Just as he’s about to hand over the new Acura NSX, Jay Leno wins over the man on his jetpack and flies away. Seinfeld angrily whispers “Leno” a-la “Newman”—a hilarious nod to the fans of the classic ‘90s sitcom.
While it was funny and cute seeing Seinfeld on the screen, Matthew Broderick’s Honda CR-V commercial in the style of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” succeeded in bringing more of a blast from the past. The entire commercial goes through a modernized version of his breakthrough movie in about 30 seconds—starting with him calling sick into work while in his king-sized bed, having a fun-filled day in Southern California, and ending in him asking the audience, “Don’t you have anything to do? Go home!” all while in a Honda. It was an adventure watching how the movie could mold into a commercial, whereas with Seinfeld’s ad, it was difficult to tell if the audience was supposed to reminisce about the TV show, or just the comedian himself.
As for a Super Bowl commercial that did not use animals or pop culture references but was still successful was Zack Borst’s winning entry to Chevrolet’s Route 66 competition. Isn’t it every college kid’s dream to get a car as a graduation gift? In this commercial, the “Happy Grad” mistakes the Chevy in his front yard as a present from his parents, when they really got him a refrigerator—with a freezer. He becomes overly ecstatic, up until the end where one of his neighbors “steals” his car.
The Super Bowl XLVI broke the record for being the most watched television program in the United States. While the football game and half-time show were surely contributing factors in the program’s success, this year’s crop of commercials undeniably succeeded in making a mark on television history.
Rachel Petzinger is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.