Superbowl commercials and half time show fumble this year

Christine Guerrini

Known just as much for the new commercials and the Half Time Show as for the football, the Superbowl has gained the interest of millions of viewers. To open Superbowl XLI, six-time Grammy winner and Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame member Billy Joel sang our national anthem. Playing his piano and singing through the drizzling rain, Joel was met with loud applause and excitement.

At the first commercial break, fans eagerly awaited the first of the ads. However, to much dismay, many of the ads fell completely short of the usual high quality.

The first was a Pizza Hut ad for “cheesy bites” starring Jessica Simpson. Decked out in red, she served as nothing more than eye-candy with her poor performance. Her acting left something to be desired, and the premise of the tiny songstress having any urge to run after a pizza and put something loaded with calories in her mouth seemed extremely far-fetched.

Another company that usually produces enjoyable ads, Bud Light, aired several commercials for their product. This year, however, instead of the classic feel of Budweiser horses, they created a more irreverent tone. The beer commercials, while focusing on the overwhelming appeal of its product, seemed to sacrifice some of its integrity. Hitting a friend in the head with a real rock during “rock, paper, scissors,” turning a wedding into a short auction and poking fun at immigrants was unnecessary and not as humorous as intended.

Snickers’ commercial played off of the spaghetti scene from “Lady and the Tramp.” When two mechanics kiss at the middle of a Snickers bar, a few boundaries were overstepped. First, the absolute disgust that the two men show promoted an anti-homosexual tone. The main focus was the “unnatural” aspect of the kiss, not the product. On the one hand, people who disapprove of homosexuality will be turned off by the commercial; on the other hand, the gay community may be insulted by the need for a show of “manliness” (the mechanics ripped out their chest hair). The chocolate company must not have thought their ad through before producing it. This one has the potential to alienate a large number of people.

A last horrible ad that deserves some mention was the ad for Garmen GPS. Without a doubt, this commercial resembled a cracked-out version of Power Rangers. A map turns into a monster, and a person transforms in to a silver superhero to fight it. This was far more of a joke than any sort of promotion of the capabilities of the GPS system.

Amidst the many sub-par commercials, there were a few good ones. Sierra Mist and Sierra Mist Free added a bit of dry humor. Although still somewhat superficial, this company joked about fashion faux pas like comb-over beards, cutoff shorts and rollerblades. The outrageous premise grabbed the attention of bored commercial watchers. Between the two main actors in the commercials, the comedic pair has a good balance of blank sarcasm and over-the-top antics. While they weren’t outstanding, these commercials were a relief from the aforementioned disasters.

Coca-Cola also campaigned with several commercials. One featured a man putting a quarter in a soda machine and follows the quarter to a fantasy world. It leaned toward “cute,” yet was quite effective. The crisp, original taste was highlighted, and the “other world” idea suggested that every Coke was made especially for the customer.

Perhaps the most surprisingly enjoyable of the Superbowl commercials was Nationwide’s ad featuring Kevin Federline. As an accurate representation of the wannabe rap star’s image, the combination of his delusions of grandeur and stardom with the reality of his sub-par status was entertaining and autobiographical. Nationwide cashed in on the media frenzy surrounding his recent divorce as well as the idea that sometimes money can get pulled out from under you. Maybe K. Fed has finally done something noteworthy after all.

For the most part, this year’s Superbowl commercials were disappointingly superficial. Dumbing themselves down to generic themes, the ads did little more than portray their consumer base as incapable of intelligent thought. Of course, entertainment is a key component in advertising; however, the product itself is more important. The commercials did not focus enough on their product as they did on silly antics.

Unfortunately, the Half Time Show proved to be just as much of a failure as the rest of the entertainment. Music legend Prince was the highlighted performer. Usually noted for his sex appeal and showmanship, the veteran singer was unusually uncharismatic.

His outfit was absolutely hideous: an unusual blue suit with orange shirt underneath (double-popped collars) and a black cloth wrapped around his head. The drizzling rain, of course, could not touch his perfectly quaffed hair.

The backup dancers’ outfits were just as unappealing. In tight white spandex or black shirts worn as dresses, the dancers did nothing interesting, gyrating about the stage in an almost seizure-like manner.

Prince began with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and then played one of his latest songs. Half of the performance was nothing more than glorified guitar riffs. He then segued to a Tina Turner song, “Rollin’ Down the River.” Turner was not present to sing a duet with Prince; instead a backup dancer attempted to fill her heels.

At some point, a marching band rushed the field. It seemed slightly random and not Prince’s style to include them.

Next was a Foo Fighters song, “Best of You.” Finally, he sang “Purple Rain.” But this seemed to lack energy, as a Half Time Show never should. It would have been much more entertaining for him to sing more of his famous songs, like “Red Corvette,” instead of covers of other bands’ songs. He didn’t do the other songs justice, nor did his style fit the songs he performed.

Although “Purple Rain” is a classic, to end on such a slow song was anti-climactic and underwhelming.

Overall, Prince’s singing performance left much to be desired. His voice was more raspy than usual, he included far too many self-indulgent guitar solos, his dancers were not interesting and he was not as charismatic as he is built up to be.