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Super Bowl Ads: Where Tibet and Groin Jokes Sit Side-by-Side

One of the Super Bowl stars

The Super Bowl is a time for excessive celebration.

Everywhere except on the field of play.

There, the referees throw a flag if a player dares fall to the ground in glee.

However, when they cut to the break, a beer thrown into someone's groin is supposed to make you fall to the ground with uncontrolled tittering.

Many will feel that they have seen most of the advertising themes in this year's Super Bowl before.

The crude jokes, the pretty women, the crude jokes about pretty women and the cars that are supposed to make you feel proud to be American.

Unless you drive an Audi, in which case you should be proud not to be in prison for embezzlement--oh, no, wait, in luxury prison for being a large, rich chap who smokes fancy cigars.

I couldn't see Bernie Madoff there. Perhaps he wanted too much money to appear.

Full coverage of Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl: The Tech Company Ad Winners and Losers

The highlights and the lowlights of Super Bowl advertising tend to offer strong relief to the nolights. Of which there were many.

Chrysler, for example, tried to make Detroit into a virtue. Detroit is where they know cars, build cars, understand cars.

The only slight drawback is that the cars they built weren't cars people wanted to buy. Which is why Detroit is a sad place right now.

However, with government money, they hope to reverse the trend. Well, government money and, so rumor has it, Italian taste.

So perhaps it might have been better to show Bruno Tonioli Of "Dancing with the Stars" twirling hand-in-hand with Eminem.

Another part of America's car industry, Chevrolet, offered strong tinges of nostalgia, coupled with brand new jokes about how old people are deaf.

Meanwhile, BMW popped up in very modest fashion, just to tell you that all its X3 SUVs are actually made in America. Achtung, baby.

Volkswagen managed to offer the best pointer to all the car manufacturers: make ads that people will remember and like.

Its "Darth Vader" and "Beetle" spots were both a simple delight.

Which can't be said of, for example,'s, which appeared at half-time. And, like the half-time show, I would still like to know what it was all about.


It was almost as if too many of the ad creators believed, like Mike Singletary when coaching the San Francisco 49ers, that advertising was a mindless running game in which you plow forward regardless of what might be in front of you.

Some questions that the Super Bowl advertising threw up: Do Americans really feel trapped by their iPads (as Motorola's profoundly sad ad for its Xoom tablet suggested)? Or do they glory in its playful frivolity?

Are we desperate to shove as much as we can in the trunks of our cars, as the Mini ad seemed to believe? Or are we happy to have anything at all to put in our trunks?

Do we really believe that the mere presence of Kim Kardashian will make us rush out and buy Skechers shoes or, indeed, anything? Or is that just what we tell telephone researchers to get them out of our lives?

If a Super Bowl happened without a GoDaddy spot that featured women in bikinis, could the nation survive?

Or will Kim Kardashian always be available, should Danica Patrick and Joan Rivers turn any future gig down?

Perhaps the most important question was this: Do we really care about what was shown during the Super Bowl when we could see many of the spots online hours and days before their aired on TV?

Indeed, Audi showed the problem that TV advertising has. Its teaser spot featuring Kenny G., almost three minutes long, was far, far funnier than anything it could cram into its 60-second TV spot.

America is changing. We're drifting online, trapped in our own Truman Show in Lap(top)land, and yet we're still supposed to get excited about TV spots?

The most honest and accurate assessment of Americans came from Groupon.

Critics--on Twitter, of course--have already dubbed its spot as disgusting, tasteless and heinous.

The ad featuring Timothy Hutton, the plight of Tibetans and a restaurant in Chicago was flagged so many times for excessive mutilation that I expected its creators to be chased out of their homes for a little excessive flagellation.

And yet here is a brand that understands why it exists and who Americans really are.

We are people who would love to help Tibetans, but only if we can help ourselves a little first.

We need a deal like Aaron Sorkin used to need a fix.

It makes us feel so good that only then will we give a little money to a charitable cause.

This is our excessive celebration. And we'll fight for it at the Super Bowl, or anywhere else you'd like us to. You have a problem with that?

Chris Matyszczyk is an award-winning creative director who advises major corporations on content creation and marketing. He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world with his CNET blog, Technically Incorrect.

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.