The Thinking Man's Take On: Super Bowl Ads


Ladies and gentlemen, we live in marvelous times.Starting in October, the American people banded together, they let their voices be heard, and they spoke loud and clear – “we know what we want, and it is like nothing we’ve had before”.No, I’m not talking about Barack O’drama.I’m talking about Snuggies, the blankets with sleeves that make you look like a monk.Or as I like to call them, Slankets.Has a much dirtier ring to it, doesn’t it?

If you’re not already sitting down, you should.Also, if you’re not already sitting down, you’re a weirdo.Who reads blogs standing up?Regardless of your position in the sitting/standing hierarchy, I am about to blow your mind.The American people have spent over $40,000,000 on Slankets this year.40 million dollars.And if you think that figure - which represents over 4.5 million Slankets sold – isn’t related to advertising, well my friend you are wrong.If I hadn’t seen the Slanket eloquently advertised as a way to “enjoy a snack while staying snuggly warm” (YouTube, 2009, :26) there’s no way I would have bought 10 of them before realizing that – PEOPLE – Slankets are just sweatshirts!

Anyhow, I digress.The reason I brought this up is because we live in a golden age of commercials.An age where people actually pay attention to commercials.An age where people actually have the ability to invent ridiculous products.An age where said people with ridiculous products can afford said commercials that others pay attention to.For reference, please consult Sham-Wow – it’s made in Germany, you know the Germans always make good stuff.

Perhaps no day celebrates the art of the advertisement more than Super Bowl Sunday.The anticipation over new ads is more of a draw than the game itself for most people, except some people in Pittsburgh.Even people living in Arizona flipped to watch the ads as soon as Matlock was over.So despite the fact that this is a music blog, here is a rundown of the best ads you might have missed, or want to see again, from Super Bowl XL, III: The Return.And since this is a music blog, I’ll tell you what artist each ad would be if it were to somehow magically morph like a transformer that turned into a boombox instead of a car.Or something like that.

The Good:


This is a two part ad, which perhaps is what makes it so genius.It started with a pregame ad in which Windell Middlebrooks (real name) ridiculed the idea of spending $3 million for a 30 second spot.He goes on to say, all I’d need is a second to say our product.Then, at the beginning of the fourth quarter - lo and behold – a brilliant quick shot of him just yelling “HIGH LIFE”.Great execution.

If It Were A Band: Chumbawumba.It’s short, it’s sweet, everybody enjoyed it, and we can all laugh about it later.Also, the original spot uses the term “ChubblyBubbly” which is about as close to Chumbawumba as we’re gonna get.


I hate to put a non-humorous commercial on the “Good” list for the Super Bowl, but I actually thought this ad was pulled off really well.Classic scenes are played side by side with modern ones, reflecting each other throughout.Bob Dylan sings Forever Young, and raps over the top at one point.This one came early on in the game, but it was enough to leave an impression.

If It Were A Band:I’m tempted to say Bob Dylan here, but in his later years he’s gone from quirky heartthrob to Skeletor with long hair and pedo-stache, so that’s a no-go.I hate to do it, but I have to go with U2.Has anyone else maintained prolific output and mainstream success for so long?The real question is who would play Coke to Bono’s Pepsi…


I have to admit, when this commercial first came on I didn’t have high hopes.An old gag, replayed a million times, was destined to fall short.But this commercial may have gotten the most laughs out of the room I was in, and it definitely hit the high note well.Babies singing will almost always be a winner in my book.

If It Were A Band:Johnny Cash, circa American Recordings.The comeback of a classic that you don’t expect to fare well.It’s a pleasant surprise that also reminds you of how good the original was.I’m just glad E-trade didn’t have the babies cover “Hurt”

The Decent:


Oh man did this commercial have great potential.It was a little predictable, but the first throw was comedic gold.Great timing, great delivery.Whoever wrote the ad, however, clearly wasn’t a comedian.The second gag – by which I mean the same exact gag done again – flopped and flopped hard.Disappointing.Also, as a friend of mine pointed out, this commercial was clearly written about Magic 8 Balls, not Crystal Balls.Trademark issues?

If It Were A Band:Guns N’ Roses, no doubt.Storied career, lots of fans, people really dig them, and then they come back onto the scene with an ill-advised comeback, try to do the same shtick, and get panned for it.Ouch.


I think this commercial had a lot of potential.Great premise – star makes an ad that is promised to never show up in the States, does embarrassing things, ends up on the big screen in Times Square.The only problem is that Conan isn’t the right person for it.Conan embarrasses himself on a nightly basis for laughs.To really pull something like this off you need Daniel Craig or Al Gore.

If It Were A Band:Lil Wayne, on his upcoming rock album.Just like Conan’s fake commercial, I’d like to believe that Weezy made a fake album with the intention of no one hearing it.Please let that be true.Please.I’m begging you.


There was so much hype for this “3-D” Commercial that I spent the entire commercial trying to figure out if it was actually in 3D.My 3D glasses made me feel like I had snorted antifreeze through my right nostril and then tried to focus on moving objects.This movie looks like it’s actually going to be pretty fun, but for all the hype, the commercial was a huge disappointment.

If It Were A Band: It’s gotta be Kanye on 808s and Heartbreak, right?Hugely hyped album that turned out to be pretty decent, not his best, but disappointing given how much buzz was around.If the movie turns out to be bad – Wu Tang Clan’s “8 Diagrams”.

The Awful:



Your ad was good when it was the first “racy” ad during the Super Bowl.When no one had heard of you, you had a buzz and a brash sort of arrogance that made you seem pretty cool.You were a hit with the Middle School boy demographic.But now?You’re trying too hard.

If It Were A Band: Dear Linkin Park,

Your music was good when it was the first good post-Limp Bizkit hard rock on the radio.When no one had heard of you, you had a buzz and a brash sort of arrogance that made you seem pretty cool.You were a hit with the Middle School boy demographic.But now?You’re trying too hard.


The premise of this ad, as far as I can tell, is “Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins edited this commercial, so it must be cool”.Either that, or “Billy Corgan edited this commercial, so you can probably do it just as well if not better online”.I’m not sure why a washed up rockstar who has had more than one failure in the recent past is a good spokesman for your product, Hyundai.

If It Were A Band:Smashing Pumpkins, duh.Tag-line:Billy Corgan is back!And nobody cares!


Football players dancing?Check.Lizards?Check.Random monster?Check.Squiggly lines for “3D effects”?Check.Sense, plot, or value?Missing.

If It Were A Band:I’m pretty sure this is a Dan Deacon concert.Big dudes dancing around you (they came for Girl Talk), lizards (see here), weirdly catchy music, and a What-The-Hell-Just-Happened feeling at the end of everything.

That’s my take on the ads.There were some other good ones in there – great explosive movie trailers for G.I. Joe, Transformers, 4 Fast 4 Furious, and Star Trek.The movie with Michael Cera and Jack Black, Year Zero, looks like a good laugh.Free Denny’s this morning, a koala getting punched in the face, and a dude lip-kissing a monkey.But most importantly, there was rampant and unabashed consumerism.Huzzah!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to use this Sham-Wow to clean up the cola I spilled on my Slanket.Boom, 50% of the cola, right there.

Chris Barth is a guest-blogger here at Pretty Much Amazing.  You can read his daily music entries at his blog, The Stu Reid Experiment.