Having slept on it, and reviewed some of the reviews this morning, here are my top 3 (and why):
3. Coca-Cola's Simpsons "Hard Times."
I understand the ad itself wasn't all that great. But the pairing of these two beloved brands really made me sit up from my chips and dip. I loved that it was 60 seconds long -- "go big or go home" is never more true than it is for a Super Bowl commercial. I loved that it teased us for the first 30 seconds, not showing us who the commercial was for. I loved how it captured the zeitgeist of the current economy -- we want evil moguls like Mr. Burns to go broke like this in real life, *then* we can buy them a Coke! The tagline "Open Happiness" is pretty lame, but Milhouse saves the day when he bumps his box kite into the bottle and says, "Sorry Coke." In the blitz of Super Bowl ads, standing out is really the goal, and Coke scores here thanks to the good yellow people of Springfield, USA.
2. Dodge Charger "Man's Last Stand"
The Dodge Charger, a retro-inspired muscle car, appeals to its main demographic and the Super Bowl's main audience: Men. So the ad is a good fit, first. (Please note that although there are plenty of female football fans, you do not see ads for... ahem... "feminine products" during the Super Bowl... Although I'm sure that is coming, some day.) The thing I liked best about the Charger ad is how unapologetically masculine it is. It says, look, I do all this stuff that my wife, or my boss, or society in general says I should do. So dammit, I want a little something for myself. Namely, a hot, fast car that sounds like a pissed off T-Rex when I rev it! While many TV commercials (and TV shows for that matter) depict emasculated men getting kicked figuratively (and all too often, literally) in the balls, this commercial demonstrates that men still have them. The concept is great, and the execution is great, which is why it makes my top 3.
1. FloTV "My Generation"
For some reason, YouTube doesn't seem to have a legit clip of this ad, but I found it on superbowlads.fanhouse.com. It aired just after the 2nd quarter ended and before the halftime show started, so I'm afraid many people might have missed it. Check it out. **Update** AOL's embed video code sucks, but we're saved because it's finally up on YouTube:
In a word, "wow." Depicting defining moments in American history in a clip montage starting from the advent of TV, it features The Who, who of course performed the halftime show, and asks simply "Where were you then?" You know damn well that you remember where you were when you saw these events on TV, from the lunar landing to OJ's white Bronco. Then it asks, "Where will you be?" because Flo TV is the TV you can carry in your pocket wherever you go. The product's usability concept is a potential game-changer, and it was perhaps better demonstrated in their other SB ad "Spineless," but this ad is simply art in 1:01. I could watch it over and over again... And I have.
For another (and admittedly more expert) opinion, Bob Garfield of Advertising Age rates the ads here. He liked Audi's "Green Police," "Man's Last Stand" Dodge Charger, and FloTV's spot where the guy is stuck shopping for women's clothes. A very agreeable top 3, although he takes quite a bit of flack in the comments for not even reviewing Google's ad.
USA Today's focus group have the Snickers Betty White/Abe Vigoda #1, which I can see. Then it's Doritos dog shock collar at #2 followed by Bud Light's house of beer. They're all amusing enough, I suppose, but they are certainly unspoiled by art or subtlety. Even worse, I went through and rated the commercials, finding to my horror that I am apparently in Opposite Land... Far too many spots I put at 5 stars got one, and vice versa.
Meanwhile, AOL/Sports Illustrated has the top three as: