2011 Super Bowl Commercials Superlatives: Best, Worst From Advertising's Big Night

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Handing out superlatives for the best (and worst) moments from the 2011 Super Bowl commercials.

BEST BRAND: Volkswagen managed to come out of the night with two advertisements that were unqualified winners, "The Force," and "Black Beetle." There's been enough written about "The Force," but "Black Beetle did what car commercials are supposed to do (make the word "VROOOOM" for 30 seconds) while simultaneously making insects seem cute and not gross at all. Stylish, concise, and to the point.

WORST BRAND: PepsiMax. I heard the middle-aged guys on sports talk radio talking about how hilarious the ad where the slug-people were slapping each other with cans of PepsiMax and pieces of trash they found in the street. I know your ads didn't actually have this, but they could have and no one would have noticed the difference. The ads for those who find Bud Light's product placement and messaging too intellectually challenging, and the exact demographic my "Mail Your Wallet To Me With All Your Credit Cards In It NOW!" campaign will target next year.

BEST USE OF MICHAEL BAY'S CGI MACHINE: Kia's "One Epic Ride." Technically proficient, sure, but that only gets you so much of a blunted national attention span. Fortunately, Kia's bold pro-human sacrifice stance at the end of thec commercial just bumps everything up a key or two.

Screen_shot_2011-02-07_at_11

No, no, Kia, you didn't just throw a Mastodon video into the middle of a car ad. (You did, and I sort of love you for it.)

BEST USE OF CIVIC HORROR: Eminem's appearance was just the last step in the bracingly honest Chrysler ad "Imported From Detroit," which recast the bombed-out shell of Detroit as a breeding ground for badasses who feel no pain from the stinging cold on their daily snow runs, make cars that rappers want to buy, and who put random gospel choirs in abandoned buildings just for ambiance's sake. I still don't know exactly what this means, but if it's "We make cars that carjack other cars for fun," I'm sold.

(It only lacked a Robocop cameo, and not a violent one, either. I would have liked to have seen him doing something really banal, actually, like serving pancakes at a diner with a look of grim determination on his face.)

WORST VISUAL. You smear a baby's smashed face against my television screen, I hate your ad, HomeAway.com. 

BEST MASHUP. The NFL's brilliant transformation of television clips into more propaganda for the league, "American Family." They also win "Best Ad Featuring Zubaz," an important category they have all to themselves.

Screen_shot_2011-02-07_at_11

BEST CELEBRITY CAMEO. Diddy's spot in Mercedes' ad, only because he does appear at his best wandering around in a sea of luxury cars wondering which one is his. We all have dreams, and clearly looking confused and wealthy in his pajamas was Diddy's highest lifetime ambition.

BEST SPECIAL EFFECT. Kim Kardashian's catface in in the Skechers' ad, which looked almost human and expressed two emotions: flirty, and awake. Way to go, Kim!

FINEST UNHERALDED BACKGROUND MYTH. The "Old Luxury" campaign for Audi didn't really get enough play last night, since the writing in the series for the background myth of the campaign is better than you'll see in most sitcoms.

It deserves mention for each of these phrases: 

"I have enough money to bring this bear back to life."

"Roger, how many falcons do you own?"  "Thirty caged, fifteen aloft."

Well-done, Audi, even if no one's going to bother to watch the rest of it. You did get in a "Songbird" reference on the biggest stage in the national consciousness, and that's enough for me.

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