We Ranked Every Super Bowl XLV Commercial

By: 02.07.11  •  13 Comments

It was a mixed bag for Super Bowl ads this year. It usually is, but I wonder if we’re just expecting too much from advertising companies on that first weekend in February. Their job isn’t to entertain us, it’s to sell us crap. Some firms managed to do both in the time alloted, and at almost $6 million per minute, that’s worth acknowledging.

There were a couple standouts: obviously the VW ad, and we’ll get to the rest in a bit. Max Pagehasm, the kid in the Darth Vader suit in the Volkswagen ad, appeared on the Today show this morning. Max is closer to Vader than one would have originally expected; he was born with a congenital heart defect and had to be fitted with a pacemaker. That child is more machine now than man…twisted and evil.

As for the others, well, that’s what we’ll attempt to parse out here. For the second year in a row, I’ll be reviewing every ad from Super Bowl XLV. These were my ground rules for eligibility:

  • Ads are rated for memorability, scale, and message economy. I’m not necessarily rating the ads by my own personal preference so much as by whether or not the company actually spent the money on the ad, and should have done so.
  • Ads for Fox shows are ineligible (Sorry, Glee).
  • Ads for films are not reviewed. Movie previews are supposed to be awesome, and all the time. If a quality 30-second synopsis can’t be made out of a 90-minute film, then it’s hardly the fault of the people creating the ad.
  • Ads during halftime aren’t counted (Suck it, Chatter).

Brace yourselves for another clickfest. The pages are broken up by every grade or so (A through F), so you can do the math for the most part. Agree or disagree in the comments; you’ve already seen these multiple times by now, anyway. We’re embedding as many as we can (while they’re still up).

Page 2

Breaking Out, Audi — A

The best car ad of the night that seems to be getting little water cooler talk today in Twitterland. This ad had everything you could (and should) expect from a Super Sunday commercial: grandiose sets, class warfare through humor, and Kenny G. It wasn’t really laugh-out-loud funny, but it was luxury-car-commercial funny. The only thing that hurt its memorability was its timeslot–it was the third ad of the night to air.

Tibet, Groupon — A

Hilarious bait-and-switch from one of the hottest companies on earth today. Richard Gere probably broke a lamp last night after watching this.

The Force, Volkswagen — A

Even after VW intentionally leaked the ad last week, it’s still precious as all hell, and the Today show has aired the ad about 100 times this morning, so they’re getting massive return on their work.

Page 3

Ozzy and Bieber, Best Buy Buyback — B+

It’s funny because Bieber put on a fake beard and that that Bieber looks like a girl. Beebz called himself a girl! That’s hysterical! The star power and the space suits carried what otherwise was a weak spot.

Reply All, Bridgestone — B+

We’ve all done that double-take after firing off a really nasty email. I’m trying to think of a good reason why this wasn’t an A, and I’m afraid I don’t have one.

Product Placement, Bud Light — B

We need more beer bottles in swordfights.

Great Idea, Chevy Camaro — B

It’s odd that the strongest Chevy ad of the night was the one where they couldn’t decide on a theme. This was basically dueling voices debating over the best way to sell American machismo. Couldn’t decide on a theme, machine-gun humor

Detroit, Chrysler — B

It was 2 minutes long, and whether you love Detroit or love bashing Detroit’s inability to make a car that people will actually buy, you’ll remember it. It was an ode worthy of the stage. But I think it truly was a shot across the bow of the “I’ll Never Buy Another American Car” set, and while I don’t think it carries much sway, it’s a solid effort.

You Gonna Finish Those, Doritos — B

Guy-on-guy rape will always have a place in advertising. And was that McLovin?

Feed The Fish, Doritos — B

“Grandpa?” Maybe the funniest ad of the night, with Grandpa coming back to life being the best punchline of all the ads. Dinged for some goofy editing in the middle.

What’s That Mean, LookUp316 — B

The precursor for this was a dude with a rainbow wig sitting behind the goalpost. This ad is a marked improvement, but needs more Tebow or something.

Cram It In The Boot, Mini Countrymaid — B

Mini dispels notions of “no junk in the trunk” with terrific double entendre. This was a win.

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