If you simply can't wait until Jan. 30 to watch Super Bowl ads,
the Museum of Television & Radio (locations in Los Angeles and
New York) has your fix. Through Feb. 13 it's running an exhibit
entitled "The Super Bowl: Super Showcase for Commercials,"
featuring 68 spots that debuted on Super Sunday.
Many are more ingrained in our consciousness than the games. How
can we forget: "Nothin' but net." Spuds McKenzie. "You got the
right one, baby. Uh-huh!" Bud Bowls. The "Bud-weis-er" frogs and
lizards (above). In the exhibit, narrator Frank Gifford (a
broadcaster for CBS at Super Bowl I, which was also telecast by
NBC) shepherds you through the catchphrases and characters,
noting that while advertisers "paid $85,000 for a 60-second spot
in 1967, they now pay more than $50,000 per second." (Even that
utterance, made last year, is out of date: At last report a
30-second spot during ABC's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIV was
going for a record $3 million, or double the price quoted by the
Giffer.) Our thoughts on XXXIII years of Super Bowl commercials:
Consistency Award: Master Lock, a relatively small company whose
ads appeared every year from 1974 to '96. Think about it: How
often do you see Master Lock ads the rest of the year?
Big Stars, Bad Ads: Steve Martin looked silly in a 1994 Nike
commercial touting a conspiracy that a then retired Michael
Jordan was playing basketball incognito. In '95 Jason (Seinfeld)
Alexander's skydiving stunt for Rold Gold pretzels had us wishing
that his chute wouldn't open. And in '90, what was Paul Newman
doing on that miniscooter, and what did it have to do with
American Express? One exception: Chevy Chase in '94, spoofing his
failed Fox talk show by having his Doritos ad "canceled" midway
through filming. "Tough year," Chevy deadpanned.
Why in the World Award: Too many high-concept campaigns (are you
listening, Pepsi?) traipse the planet, insipidly stereotyping
everyone from Chinese Buddhists to African tribesman. Is this
what Michael Jackson's Black and White video hath wrought?
Most Effective Ad: Had you heard of job-search Web site
Monster.com before last year's clever spot in which children put
a sardonic twist on the familiar complaints of the disaffected
white-collar worker (e.g., "I want to be forced into early
Most Super Ad: Pepsi's Your Cheatin' Heart in '96. With the Hank
Williams classic providing the background, a Coke deliveryman
attempts to pilfer a Pepsi from a store display but instead
starts an embarrassing avalanche of cans. No words, no stars,
just simple human nature. Nothin' but net. Uh-huh!
"Let's see, the best nickname I've ever heard, that's tough.
Someone used to call me Eddie Munster because of the way my hair
goes into a V at the front of my head."
Celtics center VITALY (UKRAINE TRAIN) POTAPENKO, in answer to
"What is the best nickname you've ever heard?" in NBA.com's
"Mailbox of the Week"
more memorable than many of the games.