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Super Bowl ads 2013: Loving Taco Bell and Clydesdales, hating geeks kissing supermodels for Go Daddy



viva_young.jpgWhen the game-halting emergency of a 35-minute power outage brings more excitement than half the commercials at the Super Bowl, you know there’s something seriously wrong.

Twitter was ablaze Sunday night with TV fans decrying the state of advertising during the big game, when upwards of 30 companies shelled out $4 million per 30 seconds to reach the biggest audience in television.

One surprise came after halftime, when the Church of Scientology ran an ad which aired in several large TV markets including Tampa/St. Petersburg, reaching out to new people amid a flurry of news stories featuring longtime members criticizing the organization’s current leadership.

The commercial seemed to be a 30-second version of the church’s “Knowledge” ad, which features visuals of several attractive people looking at the camera while a voice over notes “the one thing that’s true, is what’s true for you.”

The title for most reviled ad had to go to online domain name purveyors Go Daddy, whose commercial featuring supermodel Bar Refaeli noisily kissing an overweight, unattractive computer-using nerd drew loads of complaints online. (The guy who played him is Jesse Heiman, once known as the World's Greatest Extra.)

Even former Republican National Committee head Michael Steele weighed in, tweeting: “That #godaddy commercial was VERY DISTURBING.” The question left for ad experts: Does it matter if everyone is talking about your Super Bowl ad because they found it revolting?

But the other low lights were numerous and disappointing. Why did Budweiser hire an American icon like Stevie Wonder, then stick him in a pointless ad blessing a voodoo doll? (a second version of the ad, featuring Wonder and bombshell actress Zoe Saldana blessing a lucky chair, was improved only by Saldana’s appearance).

A commercial for Lincoln cars cobbled together by messages from late night host Jimmy Fallon’s twitter followers featured a German student hitchhiker who gets married by former rap star Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons from Run DMC. Huh?

And an ad featuring Korean rap star Psy pitching pistachio nuts – “crackin’ Gangnam Style” – would have been very hip…back in July.

oreo-blackout.pngMy fave ads included Taco Bell’s “Viva Young” ad, featuring a group of old folks who sneak out of a retirement home for a night on the town, along with a Budweiser ad featuring an emotional reunion between a trainer and a Clydesdale horse. Deon Sanders getting back into the NFL by pretending to be a new guy called "Leon Sandcastle" was surprisingly funny, along with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen pitching Steve Odekirk on possible new ads for Samsung.

Oreo may have made the coolest move of the night, Tweeting an image of a glowing Oreo cookie during the blackout, with the tagline "you can still dunk in the dark."

Slate noticed that one of the most striking ads, a commercial for Dodge featuring a speech from deceased traditionalist news commentator Paul Harvey talking about farmers, was pretty much taken straight from an ad created by in 2011. No wonder it was so compelling.

Here's a few of my faves below; which did you like?

[Last modified: Monday, February 4, 2013 2:22am]


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