Super Bowl commercials: The best and the worst

We came. We saw. We got kind of grossed out. Thank you (Not) Go Daddy for making our Super Bowl commercial viewing experience a uniquely unpleasant one.

Beyond that (and Beyonce that) — in the rush of commercials that fill every Super Bowl viewer’s experience when not heading to the refrigerator or bathroom — there wasn’t all that much this year to kvetch or kvell about. (Except the lights, another story.)

Sure, there were good commercials, but this year’s crop felt depleted for some reason. Animals, humor and cars that can do anything short of curing flu — they were all here as usual, in abundance. But nothing stood out, or at least in the way that Go Daddy did.

And with that, on to the best commercials of Super Bowl.

1. Samsung Galaxy. This has it all, and by “all,” I specifically mean “everything” — very big stars (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, LeBron James, Bob Odenkirk), along with humor, sharp writing and an effective send-up of other Super Bowl advertisers, while managing to twist it all around into a self-parody. Somehow this minimovie-within-an-ad also had to sell a new smartphone, and did that as well. A complete winner.

2. Chrysler/Ram. Radio commentator Paul Harvey, who died in 2009, stole the whole Super Bowl commercial parade with his stark, powerful hymn to the American farmer. A brilliantly produced late game ad that forced viewers away from whatever they were doing, his “So God Made a Farmer” tribute was one of those elemental moments that force consumers — yes, consumers, because consuming is what Super Bowl advertising is all about — to think about America, heroes, God … and even buying cars. A terrific ad.

3. The movie trailers. Sorry, I know this is like a Time magazine Person of the Year that turns out to be a smartphone, but the movie trailers were excellent — “Star Trek into Darkness,” “Oz, The Great and Powerful,” “Fast and Furious 6.”

4. VW, “Get in, Be Happy.” I know this got some buzz about being somehow racist, but “racist” how? Seemed fun, lighthearted, good-natured and harmless.

5. Best Buy, Amy Poehler. Shopping in a Best Buy (don’t ask why; this is an ad), Amy Poehler comes on to the salesman with non-sequitur lines like “Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word ‘donagle’?” Or some word like that. Smart, funny commercial packed into 30 seconds.

6. Taco Bell. Elderly people getting tattoos, clubbing, getting busted. What’s not to like?

7. Jeep. “We are a nation that is whole again … proudly supporting our nation’s heroes.” Oprah as Chrysler/Jeep spokeswoman? Political balance with Clint Eastwood (“Halftime in America,” two years ago). Beautifully produced, but not as memorable as Clint.


1. Go Daddy, Bar Rafaeli. Oh, the glory of the horribleness of this commercial, coming just as half a nation was digging their Doritos into a bowl of dip. There was model Bar Rafaeli having a long, noisy kiss — in close-up — with someone who felt he had won the championship of men. The twittersphere was so repulsed that it crashed, like the Superdome lights.

2. Skechers. A visual mess, combining CGI with what looked like off-the-rack footage from some old nature documentary. Worse, the guy hogties the poor cheetah, then fist-bumps the gazelle. As dumb as Super Bowl advertising gets.

3. Oreo. This, to celebrate a hundred years of a great cookie? Fuhgeddaboutit. (By the way, this could tie with the Psy/pistachio ad — but bet millions of kids loved it.)

4. Axe. The ad that could get you into space — if you follow the instructions. But what a stupid waste of time.

5. Bud “Black Crown” Creepy, dark, oleaginous … and this is supposed to make you want to drink beer? Yech.

6. Gildan. Meet the idiotic commercial that confused 100 million people! Man wakes up after an obviously very rough night of very rough something with a young lady, then proceeds to remove her T-shirt, with the tag, “It’s about time you had a favorite T-shirt.” Whaa?