It’s only been a day, at the time of writing, since some kind of major sporting event finished in the US. I gather it’s called the Superbowl, and like all major sporting events it involves huge amounts of money floating through the air, invisible, above our heads. It changes hands between sponsors, building contractors, ticket vendors, event caterers, local government, wholesale food warehouses, security firms, media broadcasters, merchandise manufacturers, law firms to arrange and broker these deals and stock-market analysts to analyse the stock-market impact of all these transactions.
I guess there’s also something about some sportsmen doing something on a field with a weirdly shaped ball or something, but it hardly seems relevant at this point. I’m a Brit living in the UK and I don’t even follow proper football or rugby, let alone the infantile, specially-padded offspring of the two.
Nevertheless, all that money zooming around produces ADVERTS! Some of the best adverts ever produced by Western culture, maybe even all of humanity. You can see a collection of this year’s Superbowl Adverts here, but let’s talk about some of the most interesting after the click.
Audi: Vampire Party
Bwahaha, yeah, that'll show you vampires! Werewolves win again! I guess my lycanthropic brothers have somehow invented UV lights for cars, which is obviously entirely necessary in a world ravaged by a secret, supernatural war. Man, what took us so long?
Nope, wait, just LED. Oh well, they still appear to work. Considering how much some people love Twilight, is this really the direction you want to take your product, Audi? Wait, these aren’t Twilight vampires. Acoustic guitar-playing, finger-tip tree-climbing douches, yes. But we all know what light does to vampires in Twilight! It turns them into a terrible CGI Liberace! These are more like Buffy and Blade vampires, who burst into ash and leave no remains to prove their existence. Seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar and Wesley Snipes leap out of an Audi to karate-kick some vampiric assholes would have been awesome. What, you couldn’t afford that, Audi? This is the Superbowl! Make an effort!
Speaking of CGI Liberace…
Pepsi: King’s Court
Elton John and Flava Flav in the same room! This is what they’ve been trying to do at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider! This is like mixing matter and anti-matter. YOU’VE DESTROYED US ALL, PEPSI! YOU’VE CREATED A SWIRLING VORTEX OF GRAVITY, DOOMING THE WHOLE PLANET!
I have no idea who that woman is, but you don’t have to be a CERN physicist to realise that she’s not really singing.
TaxACT: Free to Pee
Moving right along:
Bud Light Platinum: Factory
Finally, the glorious, long-dreamt-of day has arrived! Blue Budweiser! I can’t think of anything I’d rather drink less. I once drank my own piss, and it tasted better than Bud Light. It also had a higher alcohol content if you get my meaning.
Bud Light Platinum: Work
More blue beer! Hooray! I don’t know if you noticed, but they were mocking some of the other beer brands there: “They say good things come to those who wait. It’s a good thing they don’t work here”. I’m not a huge fan of Guinness, but when I need a pint of beer that is also a meal, I know where to turn. Meanwhile, Bud Light remains one of the things I would only drink if I was stranded in the desert and I got tired of the taste of my own bodily fluids.
Marvel: The Avengers
I honestly didn’t expect to hear about the Avengers again until the official release, but here we are:
When Tony Stark counters your threat of an army with, “We have a Hulk”, then yeah you better just withdraw your army, Loki.
Disney: John Carter of Mars
This is one I’ve been expecting for quite some time, ever since I heard the film was in production:
Some background: it’s based on a series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875 – 1950), who also wrote Tarzan and a whole bunch of other schlocky, pulpy, sensationalist man-fantasy novels. I love them all (but especially his early work, you probably haven’t heard of it). John Carter of Mars starts out as a Virginian who fought in the civil war (uhoh…) for the Confederacy (…knew it). After the war he’s in a cave one day, hiding from Apaches (of course) when he is spontaneously sent to Mars (…?!?!). On Mars, or Barsoom as the Barsoomians call it, it’s quickly established that since the planet is bigger than our moon but smaller than Earth? He’s become, like, extra-strong. He uses this increased strength, his civil-war experience and his gentlemanliness to lead a gang of four-armed green-skinned tusk-faced Martian warriors to victory against some humanoids or something. It’s all very rich and worryingly colonial. He’s chivalric, but he’s also better than anyone else on Mars at smashing everything to pieces. Thus, after long decades and several magical lifetimes, he sort of becomes their king, and his descendants go on to also have adventures. It’s a franchise with a lot of sequel potential. Get used to hearing about it.
I’m encouraged to see that some of this comes across in the advert. I’m discouraged to see that little Disney logo haunting the screen, but at least there’s no shaky-cam. I really, really hope that at some point, at least one character smiles, however briefly. This is literally pulp fiction, but the trailer seems to take itself very, very seriously.
Honda: Matthew’s Day Off
Matthew Broderick is not making Ferris Bueller 2. Breathe a sigh of relief. I had seen the hype that suggested it might be happening, but thank god it’s just a car commercial. Actually it’s a tribute to Ferris Bueller, from the Honda car company of all people, and it was pretty charming.
So now you’re either crying or cheering. At first the Peanuts cast turn up, then He-Man, Pepe Le Pew, and Speedy Gonzalez (did you spot Waldo/Wally?). The Scooby Gang speeds past Mr Magoo and Casper. There’s Marvin the Martian, all the Jetsons cast, Top Cat, Fat Albert, a few of the Wacky Racers, Jabberjaw, cartoon characters that I used to recognise but have forgotten and cartoon characters that I never knew even existed, like that giant purple ape. Either your childhood has come to life before your eyes, or is being reanimated by soulless corporate necromancers. Both interpretations are valid, but the end result is that all of your beloved childhood TV friends are gathering together for some reason, and they also all want you to buy insurance.
You wouldn’t want to make Snoopy cry, would you?
M&Ms: It’s that kind of party
I was really excited about this. I’ve been hearing about the new M&M mascot for several weeks. I’ve seen preview images. With her glasses and stern expression, I knew I’d love her:
What, that’s it?! No! I’ve sat through iterations of Bud Light and Bud Light Platinum, and this is the best I get from the new, shiny, intelligent Ms Brown? But I love her! Don’t make me go to M&M world and try to chat up one of the costumed mascots! Because I will! God help me, if that’s that it takes to get my point across, that’s exactly what I’ll do!
It’s worth checking out the rest of the list for things like Hyundai vs Cheetah, a few Coke polar bears, the new Lorax Trailer (tagline: that’s a woman?!), more basically-naked Beckham, Star Wars 3D, dogs in shoes, a GI Joe 2 trailer starring The Rock and Bruce Willis, a couple of chauvinist GoDaddy.com adverts (surprise), Swamp People, the now-famous Chevy-apocalypse advert along with a bunch of other car adverts, and some other stuff that's not worth mentioning. None of it matters to me now, I just want more Ms Brown. I may even buy some M&Ms.