Many of this year's crop of Super Bowl ads were made available before Sunday night. But that did little to stem the interest and analysis that certain commercials provoked both during and after the most important advertising day of the year. From the clever to the cringeworthy, here are five commercials people are still talking about:
1. Chrysler's "Made in Detroit"
The ad: In this inspirational two-minute spot for Chrysler's revamped 200 model, rapper Eminem, underscored by his hit "Lose Yourself," drives around his home city of Detroit while a gruff narrator asks "What does a city that's been to hell and back know about luxury?" The narrator — and Eminem — suggest that the blue-collar bona fides of resilient Detroiters herald a comeback for the hard luck city.
The reaction: This ad "wasn't so much a promotion for a new model," says Rick Rojas at The Los Angeles Times; "it was an editorial in defense of a beleaguered Detroit." Chrysler is hearkening back to a time when "America was about making things — real, hulking tangible pieces of machinery." And even though Chrysler hasn't always made great cars, says John Swansburg at Slate, the spell cast by the Super Bowl's best ad was so "mesmerizing" it "left me pumping my fist and pledging to buy American everything."
2. Groupon's "Save the Money"
The ad: The internet coupon company's controversial Christopher Guest-directed spot made light of the celebrity-with-a-cause genre. Timothy Hutton briefly holds forth on the plight of Tibetan people, noting earnestly that their very culture is in danger. Switching gears, he then reassures viewers that the ancient people "still whip up an amazing fish curry!" — which he's able to sample cheaply at a Chicago restaurant thanks to Groupon.
The reaction: "Sensitivity, empathy and taste? They're at least half-off at Groupon," says Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune. The fact that this commercial stood out in a sea of other ads that showcased "slapstick, stereotypes and out-sized stupidity" really says something. The ad provoked a furious reaction online, with Twitter users widely condemning the commercial. But Steven James Snyder at Time says, "speaking purely in terms of marketing: Is the fact that we're still talking about [Groupon] at all proof that they got the job done?"
3. Volkswagen's "The Force"
The ad: A young boy dressed up as Darth Vader attempts to "use the force" unsuccessfully on a number of household objects — until his parents indulge his wish fulfillment fantasies by activating their Volkswagen Passat at just the right moment, causing him to do an adorable double take.
The reaction: "The Force" was released on YouTube last week, and had already racked up 13 million views by the time a shortened version aired Sunday night. Nevertheless, it topped many surveys of viewers' and critics' favorite Super Bowl ads, notes Hank Stuever at The Washington Post: Volkswagen achieved recall simply — through "a brief and relatable story." From Volkswagen decision to release the ad early to its use of Twitter to direct users to the longer version during the game, the whole advertising strategy, says Rohit Bhargava at Web Pro News, was "focused, strategic, memorable and well distributed."
4. Doritos' "Best Part"
The ad: In this user-submitted ad, a winner of the chip company's "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, a Doritos-obsessed office worker licks chip residue off his coworker's hands — then takes his infatuation one step further by ripping off the clothes of another office mate, just to sniff the Doritos dust on the man's pants.
The reaction: "Creepy funny is always good. And the guy addicted to Doritos cheese dust is definitely creepy," says Nick Zaino at TV Squad. Others weren't so sure. There was "a mixed reaction on Twitter — some love it and others find it repulsive," says Cheryl Phillips at Examiner.com.
5. Bridgestone's "Reply All"
The ad: A nervous worker is informed that he mistakenly hit "reply all" on a sensitive email, and goes on a track-covering rampage — destroying coworkers' phones and computer equipment — to erase evidence of his electronic folly. The protagonist must drive furiously to do so, which is the only hint that the ad, somewhat counter-intuitively, is promoting Bridgestone Tires.
The reaction: "This was a really funny ad about a guy trying to take back a damaging e-mail at all costs," says Blair Marnell at Crave Online, although "it didn't really sell its product very well." In any case, Bridgestone's spot — and another one it ran featuring a generous beaver — did well with consumers. The website Ad Rants ranked it as the "most buzzed" about commercial of the evening.
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