Super Bowl XLVIII: total bust as a game, middling year for ads — though outrage was tearing up Twitter by the time the game sputtered to a close over a Coke commercial in which “America the Beautiful” was sung in many languages over images of people of many ethnic and religious backgrounds spending quality time with family and friends. Rants ranged from :
“Nice to see that Coke likes to sing an AMERICAN song in the terrorist’s language. Way to go Coke. You can leave America”
“Glad to see the that #boycottcoke thing. That way we can clearly spot every bigot, racist and moron in the country & keep them from our kids.”
The ad, ironically, called “It’s Beautiful,” also marked the first time a gay couple had been included in a Super Bowl ad, according to GLAAD, but that kind of got drowned out in all the mud-slinging under the banners #SpeakAmerican and #BoycottCoke.
The game started strong with Joe Namath, in a fly 70’s fur coat, botching the coin toss, which we didn’t think could be done. Namath’s coat went on to bigger and better things, becoming a hashtag phenomenon on Twitter. Despite high prices paid for A-list celebrity endorsements, it was Rob Riggle who seemed to get the most career mileage out of this year’s crop of game ads — including screen time in both a faux movie trailer, Escape to East Rutherford, and a Ford Fusion ad. Stephen Colbert‘s highly hyped nuts-to-you ad book-ended — and got crushed by — David Beckman’s H&M undies ad, demonstrating once again that ad placement is so important. And how smart was it of Budweiser to have premiered its tug-at-the-heartstrings ad, featuring the puppy and the Clydesdale, on YouTube days before the game, given how few people were still watching the game in its final moments, when the ad finally appeared. But this year’s most brilliant ad casting goes to T-Mobile which starred Tim Tebow in one of its ads extolling the virtues of “no contract” — as if someone at the phone company somehow knew this might be a Tebow-nostalgic night for the Broncos.
Follow the Super Bowl as it happened in real time:
2:30 PM: Michael Strahan gets points for extra duty during the pre-game show, when Terry Bradshaw stepped out after his dad died Thursday (though taped Bradshaw interviews, and those Verizon FIOS ads featuring Bradshaw competing against a little girl for the job of Super Bowl commentator, losing and having to stay home, are still running); Fox plugged American Idol by having former winner Phil Phillips join in the pre-game entertainment, and The Following when Kevin Bacon showed up to chat about this and that, FNC’s Bill O’Reilly performed his traditional Pre-Super-Bowl Whale On The President, and we’re ready to begin watching the game in earnest.
2:53 PM: In case you’re wondering, The Traditional Pre-Game Reading of the Declaration of Independence began in 2002, during the post-9/11 Super Bowl pregame.
3:19 PM: Denver Broncos win the Take the Field competition on style points, hands down, with their galloping cowgirl on a white horse and shooting flames, besting Seattle Seahawks, who waved their 12 flag. TV’s first ever botched Super Bowl coin toss Joe Namath tossed the coin before Seattle had picked head or tail… The referee grabbed the coin in the air.
3:32 PM: Celebrity screen time winner so far: Rob Riggle, just seen in that Ford Fusion commercial that also featured James Franco, but who also starred in the Escape to East Rutherford pretend-movie-trailer with guest appearances by Andy Samberg, Chuck Norris, and Conan O’Brien.
PROMO ALERT: That snippet of footage that looked like something from the Boston marathon bombing, showing legs running from a blast on a street, is a promo for Fox’s 24 event series. More of same to come — four in all.
3:43 PM: Weirdest SuperBowl ad strategy yet: ominous Quvenzhane Wallis-narration over dark shrouded images, talk of kids growing up to come out of the shadows to “strike” that, no, is not a trailer for a new horror flick or the next season of American Horror Story like you might think, but a spot for Maserati promoting its entry-level Ghibli model ($67,000-ish).
4:12 PM: America gets its first Super Bowl look at the Cheerios ad that caused the RNC to put put MSNBC on Double Secret Probation. Yes, it’s just Dad talking to his adorable daughter about the new baby coming, and some Cheerios gets pushed around on the table. Except Mom is white and Dad is black and in America 2014 that makes a moment, which MSNBC turned into political snark and then the RNC got involved and then…..
4:22 PM: TWITTER PARODY ALERT: Joe Namath’s fur coat is the new Angelina Jolie’s Leg — already has multiple twitter parody accounts.
4:38 PM: Seahawks intercept, run for another touchdown and they’re now up 22. Denver is looking like the clueless guy in the Bud Light ads — the guy who doesn’t know he’s in a Super Bowl commercial:
4:41 PM: Stephen Colbert’s much-ballyhooed Pistachios ad makes its premiere. But it bookends David Beckham-in-undies-and-then-not H&M ad. H&M wins.
4:48 PM: Can Fox send someone to pull the electric switch at the MetLife stadium? Worked so well for CBS last year when the Super Bowl also was utterly lopsided.
4:49 PM: Fox’s second 24 event-series promo. Look for the ticking clock sound effect.
4:50 PM: A contender for most controversial/talked about ad of the game: Coke runs a sequence of Americans of many ethnic and religious backgrounds, including Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, etc. enjoying family time while children sing “America The Beautiful” in their many languages.
UPDATE: Sure enough, #SpeakAmerican quickly started trending on Twitter, followed by #BoycottCoke.
5:04 PM: Jerry Seinfeld’s super-secret Super Bowl project revealed: It IS a plug for Crackle’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series — though Seinfeld insisted it wasn’t when he was interviewed a couple days ago on NYC sport radio WFAN. Seinfeld said he and Jason Alexander were not shooting a Super Bowl ad when they were spotted recently filming outside Tom’s Restaurant in New York this month, and also said they were not shooting an episode of his Crackle series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. What Super Bowl viewers saw was a portion of an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee in which some of the Seinfeld cast reunite.
HALFTIME SHOW: Bruno Mars welcome relief for those of us from Colorado — also for fans of exciting football.
Related: Super Bowl: The Halftime Show
5:28 PM: Scientology ad: “There are higher states of existence.” Local buy?
5:40 PM: Brilliant casting stroke of this year’s ads: Tim Tebow pushing the idea of “no contract” in support of T-Mobile’s “we’ll buy you out” campaign. We want to know which psychic tipped T-Mobile that this would be a Tebow-nostalgic night for the Broncos, because we have some questions for her.
5:44 PM: Hillary Clinton tweets:
6:35 PM: Scarlett Johansson’s Super Bowl-“banned” SodaStream just aired. SodaStream was a relatively new, second-year banned-ad entry — this time featuring Johansson extolling the virtues of her employer’s soda over the competition (and major Super Bowl advertisers), ending with the ban-worthy gag: “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.” Reporters who covered the banned ad pretended they didn’t know the last line would be swapped out — for, “I just love helping people.
6:51 PM: And, finally, the most YouTube viewed ad of the Super Bowl is unveiled — Budweiser’s commercial featuring Clydesdales and the yellow lab puppy: