During Super Bowl XLIX, the commercials and halftime entertainment took a backseat to the entertainment provided by the game itself.
The Patriots’ dramatic 28-24 triumph was one of the most entertaining Super Bowls ever played. Viewers didn’t have to count on the commercials or the halftime show to provide the entertainment.
And that’s a good thing.
The commercials and halftime show weren’t bad. But they weren’t good enough to make up for a bad game.
Nothing stood out as an all-time great moment. There were, however, plenty of good moments and few all-out stinkers.
Let’s examine the highlights and the few lowlights during Super Bowl XLIX.
What exactly did we see during the Pepsi halftime show?
If the halftime show is to be judged as a concert, it was awful. Musically, Katy Perry isn’t exactly my cup of tea. I’m not a big fan of special guest Missy Elliot, either. And Lenny Kravitz’s guitar showcase was so brief it was almost forgotten by the start of the second half.
The songs were all very short and seemed to be merely excuses to produce stunning visual effects. The visuals – from Perry riding the giant golden tiger to the dancing sharks and surfboards on the beach to the fireworks as Perry floated through the sky – were spectacular.
At times, it felt as if we were being transported into the middle of a music video. That’s intended as both a compliment and a criticism.
If we judge the halftime show as a spectacle, it was a success.
If we judge it by the music, it was a colossal failure.
Movie trailers and commercials for television shows aren’t included on my lists, although I almost made an exception for the NASCAR on NBC advertisement, during which comedian Nick Offerman raps about people needing to get a little more NASCAR in their lives.
Honorable mention: GEICO (Icky Woods shuffle); Mercedes (Tortoise and the Hare); Bud Lite (Pac-Man); Dodge (Extremely old people: live for now); BMW I-3 (Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric); and Dorito’s (When pigs fly and middle seat on a plane). The middle seat on a plane commercial, in which a man does a number of gross things to prevent people from taking the middle seat next to him but pulls out a bag of Dorito’s when a beautiful woman comes down the aisle (with a baby that he didn’t initially see), almost made my top 10. It may have been knocked out of my top 10 because of a recent experience in which a woman seated behind me repeatedly told people how sick her kid was – remember, the kid was seated directly behind me – in order to try to avoid having someone sit in the middle seat between them.
10. TurboTax-Boston Tea Party The colonists are throwing the tea into Boston Harbor to protest the tea tax when the British offer free tax preparation. I’ll even excuse the scene when George Washington reverses course while crossing the Delaware, which happens three years after the Boston Tea Party.
9. Chevy Colorado A few million hearts stopped during this commercial, which, wisely placed just before the game started, featured the screen going black for a moment. A clever way to get people’s attention.
8. Esurance The version with the “Breaking Bad” character as a pharmacist was better than the commercial with Lindsay Lohan as a mother picking her kid up at school, but they both got the point across that esurance tailors policies to individuals rather than to categories.
7. Cure Auto Insurance The deflated balls references weren’t as funny as last year’s spoof of Richard Sherman’s rant and Peyton Manning’s “Omaha” calls, but it was still very good.
6. Domestic violence (Nomore.org) The premise behind this commercial was a woman reporting an abusive partner by pretending to call in a pizza order while actually calling 911. This commercial is proof to Nationwide that you can do a serious commercial without being macabre.
5. Budweiser (puppy) The King of Beers scores with another feel-good animal commercial. In this year’s version, the Clydesdale horses save a lost puppy that accidentally gets taken away from the farm. It was sweet, but it follows a formula we’ve seen several times before.
4. Avocados from Mexico Viewers are taken to what is supposedly the first draft, with different countries selecting different things (i.e. Australia takes Kangaroos). God is apparently presiding over the draft, with “experts” analyzing each pick. With its pick, Mexico selects avocados.
3. Snickers-Brady Bunch In a spoof of a Brady Bunch episode in which Marcia is hit in the nose by a football thrown by Peter, Sons of Anarchy actor Danny Trejo stands in as Marcia Brady, complaining to her parents (played by original actors Florence Henderson and Robert Reed) while slamming an axe into the table and threatening revenge on Peter. Once Mrs. Brady solves the problem by giving Marcia a Snickers bar, Jan appears on the steps – in the person of Steve Buscemi – to complain about Marcia getting all the attention.
2. Clash of the Clans Actor Liam Neeson is talking trash as he plays Clash of the Clans on his hand-held video device. As the camera pans out, it’s revealed that Neeson is waiting for an order in a store. When his order is ready, the worker behind the counter says the scone is ready for “Lie-em” instead of “Lee-am.” The commercial was much funnier than this description. Trust me.
1. Fiat An older Italian man sees a beautiful woman in his bed. The woman clearly wants sex, so the man quickly runs to the bathroom to take his “little blue pill.” But, in his haste, he accidentally throws the pill out the window. The pill bounces all over the Italian town. An element that makes this commercial work is viewers were left in suspense about the product. It seemed like a clever Viagra commercial until the pill enters an open gas tank of a Fiat, which then bulks up as it’s transformed into a Fiat 500X crossover, a more powerful version of the car.
Skittles A fight over a specific flavor of Skittles turns into an arm wrestling match. What???
Jublia tackles toe fungus This commercial needed to be funny to work. It wasn’t funny.
Nationwide I didn’t get the “Mindy is invisible” commercial, which some people liked, but that ad was an all-time great compared to the one in which a boy talked about all the things he would never be able to do after dying in household accident. The message, for people to make their homes safer, was worthwhile, but did Nationwide ever consider that this commercial would be disturbing to young fans watching the game? Wrong place, wrong time.