There was only one rule at my Super Bowl party yesterday. Conversation is good for when the game is on, but the 2011 Super Bowl commercials need silence. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had that stipulation either. I'm not going to say that I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, but they might just be my favorite part.
So which ones were the best? Pretty much everyone is saying the Volkswagen commercial "The Force" has earned that distinction, and I think I agree.
The music is iconic and the whole thing is very well shot and well acted, but I think the most amazing part is that the kid in the Vader mask seems to have so have emotion. He's frustrated at the kitchen table and legitimately surprised at the end. I'm not sure how that works with a hard plastic mask, but it really brings it all together.
What else worked? I don't really like Chrysler, and I don't really even like Eminem that much, but somehow, Eminem's commercial for the new Chrysler 200 worked for me.
It was sufficiently intense, and made me think about Detroit, which is no easy task. I'm not really sure what it tells me about the car, but that is so not what these commercials are about.
I also really liked the Bridgestone commercial "Reply All."
The quick cut commercials usually work for me, and this guy was pretty funny throughout. I haven't seen it on many "top five" lists, but I think it was one of the most well-done and funny commercials of the evening. Again, the reason it was successful didn't have a whole lot to do with tires, but that seems to be a common thread among the best ones.
Finally, I think Careerbuilder did a good job with their "Parking Lot" ad.
There's something funny about a guy trying to interact with a bunch of monkeys as if they were his co-workers. But first and foremost, monkeys are funny and monkeys driving cars is hilarious. I'm surprised more companies don't use the "monkeys in people clothing" recipe, because I don't think I've ever seen it fail.
But they can't all be good: there were a bunch of bad commercials as well. Most notably, the GoDaddy commercial featuring Joan Rivers.
This is a classic "know your audience" mistake. If people like GoDaddy commercials, and I'm not even sure that they do, they like them because of the women they feature. Nobody wants to see Joan Rivers in this setting. Even the guys in the commercial seem disgusted to see her. It was surprising, but it wasn't a very good surprise.
Then there is this one from Kia which was more confusing than it was informative.
So wait, a cop steals my car, which is then picked up by a helicopter piloted by someone who looks like one of the Oompa Loompas from the most recent Willy Wonka movie, Poseidon intervenes, then he's abducted by aliens, with a quick alien joyride, then it passes through a wormhole to the Incas. Oh-kay. Over the top is good sometimes, but isn't good when it's just over the top for the sake of being over the top.
All in all, a pretty good haul for commercials this year. There were far more good ones than there were bad ones and the best ones were really good. I just don't want to wait for next year for another round.