Smile Politely

Super Bowl Commercial Life Lessons

It should not be a surprise that in an off year for capitalism, we would have an off year for Super Bowl commercials. The two are not unrelated, after all.

Like summer blockbusters, this year’s batch of commercials saw a lot of franchise sequels. We saw more talking babies, more Coke lawyers suing their own company, and more promises of a naked Danica Patrick.

And there were what, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of movie trailers? I lost count. I guess even in a down economy, we will still spend money to go to the movies.

I continue to think that the most important thing about the Super Bowl is not the football, but the commercials (except last year, when the most important thing was that the Patriots lose).

Super Bowl commercials tell who we are. They generously give us valuable life lessons about our culture and our common lives. They tell us what we should laugh about, and warn us which internet sites want to turn our brains to jelly.

This year’s crop was no different, giving us some messages that are timeless, and others that apply only to the modern age. Without further ado, here is my take on what these commercials are trying to tell us.

Guys are Oafs

  • Taco Bell (overeager man stalks girl at party)
  • Doritos (man uses power of crunch to undress women and get free money)
  • Coke Zero (Coke ad guys continue to try to sue their own company, get beat up by Troy Polamalu)

Violence is Funny:

  • Doritos – it’s funny when crystal balls are thrown at snack machines and bosses (also, guys are oafs).
  • Pepsi Max – it’s funny when guys get hit with boards, golf clubs, bowling balls, overpasses (also, guys are oafs).
  • Bud Light – it’s funny to watch guys getting thrown out of office buildings and to see skiers run into trees and benches (also, guys are oafs).

Progress is Beautiful (if it involves car chases): Audi

Progress is Kind of Boring (if it includes clean energy): GE Energy

Foreigners are Funny, Especially Swedes: Bud Light

Talking Babies Selling Stocks Are Still Funny: E*Trade

Insurance Is Still Not Funny: H&R Block

The Number of Ways for William Shatner To Self-Parody Himself is Finite Yet Unbounded:

Talking Flowers That Insult People Are Funny: Teleflora

Hawking Your Most Valuable Possessions for Gold is Funny: Always relevant in these times, especially if you have a large golden hip:

Monkeys are Funny, and Will Make You Their King: Castrol

Big Animals Make for Funny Pets and Wall Hangings: Pedigree Adoption Drive,

Horses Are Just Like People in Sappy Movies (if watery beer is involved): Budweiser

Gangsters Enjoy Happy Pancakes, Just Like Everyone Else: Denny’s

NFL Players Can’t Hold Down Real Jobs: NFL Super Ads (Usama Young and his problems selling snow cones)

Some Well Known People Are Not Human (I knew it): Alec Baldwin, John Elway.

There’s a Junior High School Girl Inside Every Woman: Cheetos

Married Potato Women Are Annoying Backseat Drivers: Firestone

Aliens Are Untrustworthy Because They Steal Your Tires: Bridgestone

Punching a Koala Bear is Only the Fifth Most Important Sign That You Should Switch Jobs:

Some People Have Trouble Distinguishing Between Real People and Avatars: Coke

There Are Apparently Pictures of Naked People on the Internet:

Not Only That, But You Can Compel Famous People To Become Naked on the Internet:


Although I learned a lot during this year’s Super Bowl, I was unable to answer either of these questions:

  • Why is Matt Millen still allowed to speak in public on the subject of football?
  • Why does Hulu require me to watch a tiny commercial before it lets me see a commercial?

Maybe next year’s commercials will have the answers.



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