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The Super Bowl commercials were a mixed bag
This image provided by PepsiCo shows a portion of one of the company's "Doritos Crash The Super Bowl" television ads that ran during Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1. - photo by Jim Bennett
I married a woman from Port Angeles, Washington, and we are consequently raising five diehard Seattle Seahawks fans, who have made it much harder for me to ignore the football game taking place between the Super Bowl commercials these past two years.

There wasnt much notable about this years crop of ads, which were much like those in years past some inspired, some dreadful and the rest expensive, over-produced and already forgotten.

My personal favorite was the one where the guy on the plane scares away everyone eyeing the middle seat next to him and then lures a beautiful woman to join him by means of a bag of Doritos. Still, it was a clever story with a twist ending that also managed to effectively pitch the product at the same time.

Contrast that with the ad about that puppy caught in the rain who gets rescued by a bunch of racehorses who burst out of their stables to save him. It was undeniably memorable and unbearably cute, but did it have anything at all to do with Budweiser beer? Remember, when your dog is wet and your stallions save him, be sure to enjoy an icy, cold Bud. Call me old-fashioned, but shouldnt your ad have at least a tangential connection to the product youre trying to sell?

I shouldnt complain. The wet puppy beer ad was actually pleasant, unlike the bizarre car commercial that played Harry Chapins Cats in the Cradle to accompany the maudlin tale of an absentee NASCAR-driving father who abandons his son through all his formative years, only to make it all up to him by picking him up at the end in a red Nissan Altima. Sorry, but how does that make everything better? I can just imagine the slogan: Nissan: The car preferred by deadbeat dads. Not a very strong selling point, if you ask me.

Of course, that ad was sheer genius compared to the gruesome, appalling Nationwide Insurance spot, which was narrated by a child recounting all the fun things hed never get to do because he either drowned in a bathtub or drank a bunch of deadly chemicals left under the sink. So buy Nationwide Insurance because, were left to assume, a good insurance policy would somehow have prevented this kid from dying. Wait, whats that you say? Insurance policies dont prevent kids from dying; they only pay you money after the kids are dead? Right you are. What on earth were these people thinking?

I suppose theres a case to be made for the so-bad-its good concept because at least we remember the terrible ads. Everyone was still talking about the dreadful Nationwide spot the next day, and I can still recall the bizarre Nissan ad and not the dozens of other generic car commercials that have all blended into one forgettable melange of speed and noise. Getting an ad that can cut through the clutter is increasingly difficult in an era where DVRs have made commercial viewing optional. Maybe execs have decided that its OK to be awful as long as people remember your name. Except I dont think Nationwide would like the fact that I now remember them because their tasteless ad makes me far less likely to ever purchase their products.

So much for all publicity is good publicity.

Well, thats it for this year. Maybe during the next Super Bowl, the Seahawks will stay home, and I can watch the commercials in peace.
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