I was among the nearly one billion people who watched the media frenzy of Super Bowl XXXVII (The game that, according to actor Don Cheadle, made Roman numerals … Roman numerals) on Sunday. But while most viewers were tuning into the Gruden Bowl focusing on whether or not the Raiders’ AARP card-carrying offense could score against the all mighty Tampa Bay defense, I was concentrating on what happened between the plays on the field in sunny San Diego – the commercials.
Sifting through the televised advertisements of Super Bowl XXXVII was almost as painful as seeing the Ravens and Giants dink around the field two years earlier in Super Bowl XXXV. Yes, the ads this year were that bad.
Companies spend millions of dollars on these spots each year, hoping the average Tostitos-eating American doesn’t take their bathroom break while their $5 million spectacle airs.
Here is a brief rundown on some of the more notable ads that appeared on ABC this past Sunday in the 6 to 11 p.m. timeslot.
U.S. Government anti-drug campaign – You think it’s an ad for a pregnancy test. But it’s not. You think it’s an ad for the Manhattan Transit Authority. But it’s not. Oh boy is our government deceptive. Apparently marijuana can not only kill innocent people (non-drug users), but get you pregnant (if you’re a 12-year-old girl). I’ll be sure to watch out for drugs now that I know the cold, hard facts. Grade: F-
Joe Montana SportsCenter – ESPN’s long running series has provided for some of the most memorable commercials of the past decade (Who can forget Gheorghe Muresan dancing with Karl and Kenny?). The latest installment features Joe Montana working in the cafeteria of ESPN, dropping his Super Bowl ring into the food. Quite amusing, but nothing compared to seeing Charlie Steiner on “Melrose Place.” Grade: B
“The Matrix Reloaded” and “Revelations” – Warner Bros. debuted the new trailer for the highly anticipated sequels, but the hyper-stylized images were primarily rehashed from the first trailer. Fans don’t have to wait long for the sequels, with “Reloaded” coming out in May and “Revelations” hitting theaters just a few months later in November, similar to the release schedule of “Back to the Future II” and “III.” And just like the further adventures of Marty McFly, expect the continuing quest of Neo to bastardize the original. Grade: C
“Hulk” – Since the record-breaking opening weekend of “Spider-Man,” super hero flicks are back in vogue. Ang Lee, director of the vastly overrated “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” is at the helm of “Hulk” and from the Super Bowl trailer it looks like the incredible green brute is a closer relative of Shrek than the original Marvel character. The only saving grace of the preview is talented Jennifer Connelly. Yummy. Grade: B-
Yao Ming’s Visa – The NBA’s new poster child has proven to be quite the actor. I’m thinking it’s time to bring back the crunchy vs. soft debate and have Yao go face to face with Shaq Diesel in some Taco Bell spots. Grade: B
FedEx “Castaway” – Bad parody of a bad movie. Grade: D
Gatorade’s Jordan vs. Jordan – I’m not sure how the hell they did it, but anything with Michael Jordan in it gets a good mark in my book. Gatorade takes it one step further and multiplies the Van Dammage by throwing in two young Jordans. Better than “Space Jam.” Grade: A-
Budweiser Zebra – In USA Today’s annual listing of the best Super Bowl ads, this Anheuser Busch spot featuring a zebra refering a game between Clydesdale horses came out on top. Funny thing is, it isn’t funny. At all. This one gets a passing grade because it was slightly more tolerable than the myriad other lackluster alcohol commercials. Grade: C+
Volkswagen Bubble – OK, so this ad didn’t exactly air during the big game, but it deserves recognition nonetheless. With it’s usual flair, VW avoids the typical car commercial clich