Clever TV ads kick
start ho-hum game

Feb 6, 2007 5:00 AM

So the smoke and thunder and hip hop and hype are over, and the story can be summed up in a few sentences printed in this column two weeks ago.

They read: "It is 1,025 miles from Indianapolis to Miami, but the trip will feel like around the block to the followers of the Indianapolis Colts who will spend the weekend after next celebrating their team’s long sought goal: making it to the big one. They are likely to make the trip home from the Super Bowl floating on air, because the Chicago Bears’ Rex Grossman is no Peyton Manning, or anything close."

There is not much to add to that as far as the football game went, except that the Colts’ defense, ranked twenty-first in the NFL, outplayed the Bears, ranked fifth, all afternoon, in every way.

There had been a lot of type, which turned out to be tripe, that a good defense will beat a good offense every time. The Bears, of course, lost much of their offense early with the injury to Cedric Benson, but as badly outplayed as they were it is not likely he have turned things around.

Speedster Devin Hester had his day in the sun — or rather in the rain — with his record 92-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff, something never done before in the Super Bowl.

The rain, constant and punishing, should lead to a new NFL rule reading, "No Super Bowl shall be played in any stadium without a retractable roof." It would not be surprising if that happens without a rule change. Even television’s probing eye had trouble with the downpour. And so, in particular, did poor Rex Grossman, fumbling and falling and flinging erratically all afternoon, with some brilliant defensive play leading to several of his unfortunate interceptions.

But enough about the game. You saw it, and you saw a badly beaten bunch of Bears.

On to my annual commentary on the Super Bowl commercials. They cost almost as much as a day in Baghdad, and some were, as usual, downright ridiculous.

The winner, which was not ridiculous but was beautifully crafted and clever, won like the Colts, hands down. It was a masterpiece fashioned by Budweiser’s ad agency, starting with a white dog looking wistfully in the butcher’s window, being chased by the butcher and turned back by a snarling hostile canine foe, trotting along dejectedly, head down, despondent, and then being covered by clods of mud from a passing vehicle, converting him to black and white. He spots the Budweiser Hitch and its Dalmatians, and the piece ends with our hero up on the Hitch, now an ersatz Dalmatian, getting a hug from a beauty whose pretty face quickly shares his mud, and we get a wink from the wily hound.

That is innovative, clever commercial making, worthy of an award.

There were other dogs in sight, but not the canine variety. Just plain dogs. There was a whole set of poorly executed commercials with talking and singing animals, from cows to pigs to gorillas to lions, the latter chattering for Taco Bell, one worse than the other. Tell me, quickly, what was the gorilla bit advertising?

Jack in the Box may be playing to families with kids, but that doesn’t justify using kindergarten mentality in producing its spots. Coke was guilty of it too, with a commercial that looked like Coke for Kids. First Magnus Loan and Emerald Mixed Nuts — at least I think that’s what they were advertising — had a couple of insultingly poor offerings, and that bladder bit for Flomax should be dropped down the loo.

The Honda snakedance was a bore, and my wife, who walked in on a commercial for something called Careerbuilders (I think), asked, "What was that all about?" Who knows?

Budweiser, with a masterpiece in the converted Dalmatian, had clunkers as well. Apparently still impressed with its talking frogs that started all this animal chatter some years ago, it came up with a horrible mess of crabs, bowing and cow-towing to a Bud leader, bad stuff in a day of despotic dictators.

Its hitchhiker bit also should be junked, with serial killers on the loose in the real world. Extrade needs help, badly, and Dodge should retire those robot boxers.

A final question, deeply puzzling. How did they keep all those halftime fireworks dry in that drenching rain?