Page 2 staff

Hey, did you see the commercial where the [insert thirsty dude and/or animal] was trying to get a [insert beer here] and he [insert punch line here]?

SUPER BOWL XL ADS
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Did that just sum up the "between the action" experience for you during Super Bowl XL? Or was there a little more to it?

Forget the focus groups and the power brokers on Madison Avenue, if you want a quick-hit analysis on the Super Bowl ads, check out this six-pack of questions from the Page 2 team:

1. Super Bowl XL commercial most likely to be the "did you see it?" touchstone in offices across America on Monday?

Brian Murphy: I'm guessing offices across America are having trouble finding a signature moment, but if I were hanging out under the fluorescents with my co-workers in the cubicles, I'd nominate the Caveman FedEx ad as the most creative, most amusing and best-produced spot of the day. Production value -- and subtitles, too! The caveman who got canned had a touch of Napoleon Dynamite to his performance.

Eric Neel: For me, it's the big, beautiful, bizarre, campy, Ziegfeld Follies-Ethel Merman-in-a-swimsuit Burger King musical number, "Have It Your Way." On a night when everything else was familiar and predictable (please, can we declare ourselves finished with the bloody Clydesdales?!), this thing was just too weird and wonderful to be denied. Or explained. Or understood. Bonus points for the thuds and groans as the lettuce, onions and tomatoes dropped down on each other like frogs out of a reckoning sky.


2. Spot that made you cringe for the poor ad agency sap who somehow persuaded otherwise clear-thinking executives to take a flier on his unorthodox concept?

Murphy: Doesn't GoDaddy.com need to turn the page? Come on. That was so 2005. I'd also nominate the poor sap who came up with "Brown and Bubbly" as the slogan for Diet Pepsi's campaign. Brown and bubbly? I don't know about you, but it conjured up less an image of Diet Pepsi -- my favorite diet soda, mind! -- and more a memory of a rough morning after dining at a cheap Indian food joint.

Neel: I'm guessing the person who sold the bosses on the idea that post-9/11-security-clearance-screening comedy (a can't-miss laugh trove if ever there was one) would be made funnier by a, um, delicate reference to a rectal exam is looking for work come morning.

Hruby: Dove wants me to join something called the "Campaign for Real Beauty" because the greatest issue facing our girls is feeling too fat or wanting to be blond, and the solution is buying skin care products that will magically boost one's self-esteem. Right. Maybe in Oprah's America. As for me, sorry if I'm not ready to march on Washington for this. Look, it's simply not a tragedy when watching Jessica Simpson in a video makes a little girl feel less pretty, any more than it's a tragedy when listening to Simpson open her mouth makes the same little girl feel less dumb. Promote a similar "Campaign for Real Athletes" -- with pictures of little boys and sad captions like "DOESN'T THINK HE'LL EVER PLAY IN SUPER BOWL" -- and you'd be laughed off the air.


3. Did any Super Bowl XL ad enter your pantheon of all-time greats? Which one and why?

Murph: Let's break this down: All-time greats are Mean Joe Greene and the kid in the tunnel; the Macintosh 1984 ad; and Spike and Michael pitching Nike shoes in the late 1980s. Although some of this year's spots were solid -- various Seahawks and Steelers practicing their Disney World mentions; Ameriquest's clever airplane and hospital room spots; and Kathy Griffin's decent little Sierra Mist metal detector thing -- let's be honest. None of the Super Bowl XL spots can touch Mean Joe, Spike or Macintosh. The only all-time great this year was the Salt 'N Pepa "Push It"/Nextel ad they've been running since the '05 season.

Hruby: Although I really liked the MasterCard-MacGyver spot -- mostly because I'm amazed that the company can come up with a semifresh way to milk an old, tired concept -- I have to go with the "Here's to Beer" ad. Why? Because if there's one thing the Super Bowl needs, it's more alcohol advertising. Indeed, what made "Here's to Beer" so amazing is that it wasn't even plugging a specific brand of beer; instead, it was simply hawking beer itself, the Platonic form of brew. Next year, I hope to see a similar ad praising "Cars: They're How You Get Around," or perhaps "Insurance: Without It, You're Screwed."


4. Was there ever a moment during the game when you were tempted to actually buy anything? When and why?

Murphy: Believe it or not, yes! It was the "Here's to Beer" spot. The images of all those well-meaning, thirsty people around the globe, hoisting cold ones and offering me a sincere toast in all kinds of different languages, made a Homer Simpson-like rope of drool hang from my mouth. All those people were my friends, right? Particularly compelling was the Irish pub, and the sea of pints of Guinness. Must … have … pint …

Hruby: The ad for that Bruce Willis movie made me want to buy one of those six-bladed razors -- just to make sure I never, ever grow a similar mustache.


5. Will a guy in a beer commercial ever decide that he, in fact, is not willing to do anything for a cold beer?

Murphy: I think the next step for beer ads is minimalism. Just have a close-up of a guy pulling a cold beer out of a tap, fill it to the brim in an icy-cold pint glass and let the camera focus on it for 60 seconds. No magic fridges, no wild bears, no monkeys in offices, no scantily clad females. No, wait. Scratch that last one.

Neel: I guess maybe if there's a date with a Go Daddy girl in it for him, maybe …

Hruby: Truth be told, I'm shocked and disgusted by the appalling lack of verisimilitude in those Bud Light spots. A guy builds a secret revolving wall to protect his beer fridge? I have armed Blackwell contractors guarding mine. A guy would let his friend get eaten alive by a bear in order to snag a brew? I train bears to eat people, take their beer and bring it back to me. Men pretending to clean their roofs in order to kick back with a cold one, unbothered? I prefer to fake heart attacks, then get picked up by a private ambulance … with a keg installed in the back.


6. At the end of the day, which statement most accurately describes your state of mind and why?
1. I am continually amazed by the wit and creativity of the stone-cold geniuses behind Super Bowl commercials.
2. Kill me. Kill me now.

Murphy: I know I should maintain street cred and say "Kill me now," but in all honesty, creativity from Madison Avenue has been high for years now. I won't call them stone-cold geniuses, but I will say there are moments of entertainment out there: As mentioned, the FedEx Caveman spot, the Sprint Benny Hill spot and even the sentimental NFL Network spot celebrating the Super Bowl. But can I get a gripe off my chest? Although the creativity is high, I'd bet 90 percent of us can't remember which product is being advertised while we're being entertained. And I'd put myself in that 90 percent. Most of the time, you think: Wait … what was that ad for, again? Never mind. Pass the salsa con queso.

Neel: Kill me. Kill me now … an answer in keeping with the rampant slapstick violence that passes for high concept in Super Bowl commercials these days. Witness the Sprint cell phone "crime deterrent" ad and the heeeeelarious "light beer just got a little darker" arse-whupping bit.

Hruby: My state of mind? Confused. Still reeling from Jay Mohr continuing to get work. Here's what I know: (A) Brooke Burke as Ms. Whopper Bun is basically the Ghost of Christmas Future for Tara Reid. Assuming Reid doesn't choke on her own vomit and die first. (B) I'm not sure what sort of new product Gillette rolled out, but I think we may need to bomb somebody before Iran gets its hands on it. (C) If I ever need to drive though the set from "Total Recall" in a hurry, I'm getting a Range Rover. (D) Did anyone tell the Campaign for Real Beauty about those Slim-Fast ads?