Monday, February 04, 2008

Games Galore

Paula Abdul performed during the pre-game. Richard Simmons was almost run over. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rocked the halftime. Shaq rode a horse to victory. Ray Lewis led the Under Armour revolution. And Gisele joined Jessica in the loser’s circle. But none of these storylines became headlines on Monday because the spotlight stayed on the field up until the last play of the game during Super Bowl XLII on Sunday.

In what will be called the greatest game of all time this week, one of the greatest games ever played during the off-season, and eventually settle in as perhaps the best Super Bowl battle we’ve ever seen, the Giants finally took care of those damn Patriots, 17-14. I know that doesn’t sound objective, probably because it’s not, but watching the clock run out on the undefeated season was a site for sore eyes. Or at least eyes that were witness to any of their previous 18 victories in person, such as, say, their nail biting win in Baltimore.

As a New Jersey native, I had many friends rooting for the Giants. I even spent the weekend in the shadow of the Meadowlands as I attended the wedding of my friend Jason who has known me long enough to appear in my Bar Mitzvah pictures (seriously, he’s in the photos, and he was taller and blonder than everyone else back then too). The moral of my trip down memory lane is that I had plenty of incentive to root for the G-Men, but the biggest of all was the burn left by New England on their way out of town that Monday Night in early December. I remember standing in the cold, listening to Rodney Harrison joke with Emmitt Smith and Steve Young about the ‘kiss’ he blew Brian Billick. And just like the rest of NFL-nation that night, who for a few hours were rooting for the men in purple, I had committed myself to cheering for the Pats opponent until they finally lost.

Of course that ‘L’ was proving quite elusive and I did not think that Eli Manning and David Tyree (Syracuse class of ’02 just like this blogger) were going to be the ones to hang the first loss of the season on Brady and Moss. But did you see the catch Tyree made? No, not the touchdown toss, but the latter end of the Manning scramble that will live on in Secaucus for years to come. It was a thing of beauty; especially since Harrison was the DB he ‘beat’ on the play. And in case you missed it, turn on ESPNEWS right now and I’m sure the replay will come on before the next break. They’re calling it the greatest catch in Super Bowl history. Who am I to argue?

I won’t begin to try to recap the game. There were 4,500 credentialed press at media day in Arizona and I’m sure the wire reports will have the play-by-play covered. But after seeing those “18-1” shirts pop-up behind the ESPN crew during their post-game reports (do you think the New York Post is making a commission already?), I thought I’d comment on the commercial game played on Sunday as well.

The Coffeeonthe50 Super Bowl Advertising Report

Favorite Commercials of Super Bowl XLII

1. Diet Pepsi Max – “What is Love”
We’ve all had our heads snap back to life in the middle of a 3-hour biology class or a Monday morning lecture. This spot not only used a real-life reference with the head-bobbing routine, but a pop-culture reference in the choice of music (“What is Love?”) and celebrity (Chris Kattan), both courtesy (sort of) of A Night at the Roxbury. Not to mention the sound strategy tie-in. Not too hard to figure out; Diet Pepsi Max will keep you awake. Ta-da!

2. Coke – “It’s Mine”
This one was Lauryn’s favorite, or at least the only one she could remember. Stewie is always good for a smile and seeing Charlie Brown get the girl, er, Coke made everyone happy.

3. Tide to Go – “Talking Stain”
Here comes the ad nerd in me, but it was just a smart way to tell an old story. Stains divert attention and make you look bad, like if you were in an interview. The stain ‘talks over you’. Like I said, smart.

4. NFL – “Mr. Oboe”
The contest didn’t receive a great deal of attention, but turning an NFL player’s personal story into a Super Bowl spot seemed like a great idea. The winner was Ephraim Salaam of the Houston Texans who told the tale of Chester Pitts, whom Salaam convinced to put down his oboe and try the game of football, only to end up teammates in Houston (where Pitts was drafted ahead of Salaam!). For those wondering, I voted for Matt Hasselbeck’s story about receiving his first piece of fan mail while a back-up in Green Bay, only to find out that the fan was asking for his help in obtaining an autograph of Brett Favre.

5. Bud Light/Semi-Pro – “Suck One”
As you’ll see below, I’m usually mystified at the purpose behind most Bud Light Super Bowl spots, but add Will Ferrell to the mix and you’ve got magic in a bottle (get It?). David Tyree may have made the catch of the night, but Ferrell delivered the best line as he only he can – “Bud Light. Suck one.”

Honorable Mention for Technical Skill - The scene from Angelina Jolie’s new movie, Wanted, in which a sharpshooter bends a bullet around someone standing in front of them to hit the target behind them. Very Matrix-y. Very cool.

Least Favorite Commercials of Super Bowl XLII

1. Planters Peanuts – “Perfume”
First, even if I buy the fact that men can’t resist the peanut smell, even on an unattractive woman, the viewing audience at home can’t smell a thing. So we’re stuck looking at this uni-brow for what seemed like an eternity. And wait, there’s no way I’m buying the fact that men can’t resist the smell of peanuts. Women shouldn’t smell like the snack bowls at the bar. Wrong and weird.

2. Sales Genie – “Panda Bear”
It was more believable that these commercials were suppose to run during a later time on a less important show than thinking that someone approved these to run during the biggest television event of the year. At least they spent some money on production this year.

3. Bud Light – “Cavemen”
Cavemen? Again? No one cares.

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