Best of the Super Bowl ads

February 3, 2008 8:43:15 PM PST
It's often called the "game within the game" -- the ads that do battle with each other for viewers' attention during the Super Bowl. There, the great brands go head to head: Coke and Pepsi; GM and Audi; Hershey and Planters. Here, then, is one account of how game night went for the major marketers, who ponied up as much as $2.7 million each for a 30-second shot at reaching the gargantuan television audience provided by the Super Bowl, which topped 93 million viewers last year.

BEST REFERENCE TO A CLASSIC MOVIE SCENE: Audi. In a replay of a vintage scene from "The Godfather," an older man wakes up in his luxurious bed and senses something amiss. In the movie, it's a severed horse head which turns up under the sheets -- here, it's an oil-soaked grille from another car. "Old luxury just got put on notice," the tag line says, as a spanking new Audi speeds off.

MOST ALARMING USE OF A COMB-OVER: PepsiCo Inc. Guy nodding off while sitting at the bar in a diner, sending his massively exaggerated comb-over flailing in all directions. His state of sleepiness -- along with a factory worker who's watching a line of bobble-head dolls go by -- is soon fixed with a dose of PepsiCo's Diet Pepsi Max.

BEST USE OF FURRY CREATURES: Bridgestone Firestone North America. When a car comes rushing up on a squirrel munching on an acorn in the middle of the road, a chorus of creatures -- including an owl, raccoon, deer, and even a turtle -- unleashes terrorized screams that alert the driver to swerve and avoid the squirrel.

MOST BLATANT USE OF A SOUTH ASIAN STEREOTYPE: Salesgenie.com sent out press materials this year saying it hoped to be named worst ad in the Super Bowl for the second year running, given all the attention it got last year. One of its contenders for Super Bowl XLII: An animated clunker featuring a hapless Indian salesman named Ramesh who has seven kids.

CLEVEREST USE OF SWEDISH WORDS: Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tide to Go brand, for inserting several words of Swedish into the babble-talk spoken by a distracting stain chattering away on the front of a shirt worn by an applicant in the middle of a job interview.

BIGGEST HEAD-SCRATCHER: A dog slurps noisily at a bowl of water, and keeps on slurping ... and slurping ... and ... there's a point here? PepsiCo's Gatorade spot with a black dog quenching its thirst like crazy raised more questions than it answered.

NOT FOR THOSE WITH CLOWN PHOBIAS: ETrade Financial Corp. went out on a limb with two spots featuring an infant staring into a computer screen and boasting, in an adult voice, about how easy it is to trade stocks. If the first one with the little baby projectile vomit didn't creep you out, check out the one with the clown quietly lurking in the backround and tying up tube balloons into animals. "I really underestimated the creepiness," the kid says. From the mouths of babes.

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