Super Bowl Commercials: The Five Best And Worst From 2012's Big Game


Many of Sunday night's commercials were annoying, or worse, boring. But a few managed to stand out as actual worthwhile television. Here's a countdown of the five best, and five worst, ads from Super Bowl XLVI.

The day after the Super Bowl, the commercials from the game are the talk of the town -- LITERALLY! Here are some fun facts regarding Super Bowl ads.

  • Over 50,000 people watched the Super Bowl. That means BIG BUCKS for advertisers!
  • A 30-second spot of Super Bowl commercial airtime costs over $10,000. That's a lot of dough!
  • The Internet is changing the way people watch commercials!
  • Commercials from the Super Bowl are the talk of the town -- LITERALLY (to reiterate)!
  • The average American watches over 100 commercials in a lifetime! Holy smokes!

I hope you enjoyed those fun "factoids." Below, I've ranked the five best -- and five worst -- commercials from Super Bowl XLVI. Of course, my opinion isn't the only one that matters, so I've asked three friends of mine to give their take: the mark who totally buys every commercial, your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece, and a geologist who is stranded in a research facility in Antarctica. Enjoy!

The five best

5. Chevy Silverado survives the apocalypse

This is a terrific example of a Super Bowl ad working within the traditional "Super Bowl ad" framework, and succeeding. It's a simple gag that's well-executed through big production values. When, say, Pixar does a post-apocalyptic landscape, you can count on them to hide three dozen awesome Easter eggs, and it would have been nice to see here. But again, it's a Super Bowl ad, and it's going to have a bare-bones narrative. I liked it.

The mark says: "A cursory search confirms the claim that Chevy is the longest-lasting truck on the road! I have found that phrase on several websites, including!"

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "So what happens when the guy runs out of gas? This is idiotic."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "Okay, listen. I know you're writing a post about Super Bowl commercials, and I appreciate that. I really do. But I fear that the generators in this facility will only last a couple more days. I really need your help."

4. The Battleship trailer

This is a movie about Battleship. Like, the board game. Apparently, the script actually borrows from the game experience: the aliens (aliens!) don't know the location of the humans' ships, and vice versa, but the audience sees them both. I plan on watching this movie because I want to support the practice of doing something colossally stupid and not even thinking about apologizing for it, not even for a second.

I hope this ushers in a trend of Hollywood adaptations of board games, and that the trend doesn't expire before David Lynch has an opportunity to direct a film based on "Don't Wake Daddy!"

The mark says: "This sounds like one Battleship that won't sink!"

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "This is so stupid. All Hollywood wants to do is make money. You know that, right? What's next, 'Clue: The Movie?' Wait, there was? Well, that's incredibly idiotic."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "I'm glad we're on the subject of oceans, because my findings over the last week are more important than my personal safety. I've checked the data five times over. The glacial formations in the northwest quadrant of the Ross Ice Shelf are melting at a rate exponentially faster than we had anticipated. Please. You must put me in contact with the Stanford offices immediately."

3. Milwaukee's Best, starring Will Ferrell

Via Deadspin, it appears that this ad may have only run in one market: North Platte, Nebraska. The 1980s production quality, the cut-off of Will Ferrell's line halfway through ... okay, those were basically the only two things in this commercial, but they were both awesome.

The mark says: "Something went wrong! I'm calling the TV station!"

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "Why is it such a big deal that the main actor from Land of the Lost is in a beer commercial? Basically beer commercials are just saying that everyone should get drunk. It's idiotic. Land of the Lost was an incredibly idiotic movie."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "A glacial loss rate of five cubic meters an hour may not seem like a lot to you, but we have to act immediately. I can't stress -- oh God. I think I've lost one of the generators. Please send help."

2. Clint Eastwood and Chrysler

Look, y'all, there's enough political subtext here to fill a book, but all of that falls to the wayside courtesy of Clint Eastwood, the baddest ass on the planet. During State of the Union addresses and news hours and late-night shows, the people in front of the camera who are purportedly "talking to us" are really talking to the camera, or the producer, or the imaginary people who exist only in their heads. Not here. You can't shake the impression that Clint Eastwood is talking to you, Common American.

The mark says: (see above)

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "They can't even get someone like Will Smith as a spokesman. Just this old guy. It's kind of pathetic."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "CLINT EASTWOOD OH MY GOD CLINT EASTWOOD IS SO AWESOME"

1. Budweiser flash-mobs rec-league hockey team

D'awwww. This is an instance of doing something really nice and cool for a bunch of strangers, and I love it unconditionally. (Unfortunately, it only aired in Canada.)

The mark says: "These guys have a lot of fans! I can't wait to see their next game!"

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "Uh, a hockey commercial during a football game? Football much? How idiotic."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "Ice. Eighty years from now, our children will remember ice with fondness. Have you managed to contact Palo Alto yet? Please respond."

The five worst

5. Century 21

Donald Trump! Apolo Ohno! Century 21 is apparently unable to get any more specific with its content than, "the 21st Century." You know they were this close to involving the Baha Men in some capacity.

The mark says: "You're fired! Haha!"

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "Uh, housing bubble much? This is America in a nutshell. It's a [sic] Orwellian nightmare."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "I've tried to humor you for as long as I can, but could we please take a break from weighing in on commercials? It is absolutely vital that these geological samples get off this continent."

4. The NFL's 'Evolution' player safety ad

Football coaches no longer employ military tactics that kill people on the reg. Players wear helmets. Yes, changes have been made to the game in the century or so that has passed since Teddy Roosevelt threatened to outlaw the game. Good work, dudes!

It might sound like I'm ragging on the NFL more than I should. I laid out my concerns last week, but in short: it's pretty evident that player safety has usually not been at the forefront of the League's priorities. I was hoping for something like, "we have a lot of work left to do," which would have at least implied the NFL's failings in this department. Instead: "we certainly have come a long way. Thing is, we're just getting started."

No shit?

The mark says: "How did they get footage from this year's Super Bowl in the commercial? They definitely had to use computers to do that."

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: (see above, perhaps with a little less preachy long-windedness)

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "In the 2070s, these players will require floatation devices. Is that on the nose enough for you? I don't know how you managed to establish contact with me, but a snowstorm has destroyed my satellite uplink, and you are my only contact with the rest of the world. What is so important about your post on Super Bowl commercials?"

3. Hulu and Will Arnett

I feel like Will Arnett is Eugenelevying himself before our eyes. He's a funny guy who was funny in a few things, and now he's just doing any damn thing the television wants him to do. It's ... at the risk of overblowing this, this sort of humor is kind of insulting, because it isn't humor at all. It isn't a joke. It's just Guy We Recognize meandering on the screen for half a minute. We get jokes! Tell some of those!

The mark says: "Ha! Gotta love it!" (repeats every time Will Arnett is ever on TV)

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "Will Arnett is soooooooo cute."

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "I seriously cannot believe this email thread. You are completely ignoring my requests. Is this a joke? Please place me in contact with someone else. Anyone else."

2. Lexus' 'Change' ad

Here is the world's most boring car company airing the world's most boring commercial. This sedan looks like every other sedan made in the last five years.

These days, cars are marketed to us not as the inefficient tools of labor they are, but as clothing: meant to augment our peers' impression of us and indicate how cool, or independent, or whatever, we are. If you do buy into that message, you know what you do? Buy one of those Jeep Grand Wagoneers they made in the '80s. Get one of those ballin'-ass boxy Volvo vans they don't make anymore. Anything else, really.

The mark says: "I want one!"

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "I want one! Or any other car!"

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: "This is how it ends, then. This is it. I have information vital to the long-term survival of humanity, and you are the one I have to depend upon. It's a joke. It's all a grand joke. May it all melt into the ocean. I hope your snarky Internetty feature goes over well. You monster."

1. Volkswagen, featuring Darth Vader and a dog

Last year's Volkswagen ad, which featured a miniature Darth Vader, was one of the best Super Bowl commercials in memory. This time around, it's like they completely failed to understand what people enjoyed about that ad. The first half is essentially a 45-second throwaway that is useless outside of the context of the second half, which is a boring callback to a commercial we wish we were watching instead.

This isn't actually the very worst ad of the night, but it is a perfect exhibit of everything that sucks about Super Bowl commercials. It's meant to be chopped into excerpts and talked about by morning show hosts with two hours to kill. It's not meant to be actually viewed in its entirety. Sucks for us.

The mark says: "I hope they make another Star War."

Your flippant indignant 15-year-old niece says: "I like this one. The dog is funnier than the Vader kid ... wait, what is this ... wait, he's saying what I ... IDIOT! THIS COMMERCIAL IS AN IDIOT!" (storms upstairs to bedroom, plays Owl City at full volume)

A geologist stranded in a research facility in the Antarctic says: (The geologist stopped responding after a while. I guess he didn't care about appearing on the Internet's largest and fastest-growing sports network. Have it your way, knucklehead.)

Check out this StoryStream to view more ads from Super Bowl XLVI.

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