For me, the best part of the Super Bowl ads are the celebrity cameos. Back before the “internet” spilled the beans about the ads well before the game, you had to wait until game time to see the spots and be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised by the celebs and the ads. Then again, only recently have celebs been popping up in commercials here in the U.S. Oh sure, the athletes have always been eager to shill products, but the stars of the big and small screen used to only make ad appearances in places like Japan. But not anymore.
This year’s Super Bowl ads are chock full of A, B, and C-listers, which I’ve listed below in the categories of touchdown (the best celebrity cameos), field goal (so-so cameos) and fumble (cameos we could do without).
Apu & Mr. Burns (Coca Cola) – I don’t care if they’re Simpsons characters, they’re still celebrities in my mind. In this spot we’ll see Mr. Burns lose his entire fortune and be cheered up when Springfield’s favorite C-store clerk gives him a Coke. Outside of the Simpsons clan themselves, these are arguably two of the most popular of the show’s characters which makes this cameo and easy (and long overdue) touchdown.
Chevy Chase & Beverly D’Angelo (HomeAway.com) - Talk about a rookie making a big splash. This first-time advertiser (and vacation property rental website) has cast Chevy and Beverly in their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold from the classic National Lampoon’s Vacation films. Fire up the family truckster, Rusty, we’re headed to Wally World!
Betty White & Abe Vigoda (Snickers) – Apparently celebrity duos are surefire touchdowns (unless you’re Stephen and Billy Baldwin). These two 80-something-year-olds will appear in a spot that highlights the candy maker’s “You’re not you when you’re hungry” tagline. In other words, they’ll be hungry and acting very much unlike an 80-year-old should. Awesome.
Troy Polamalu (TruTV) - TruTV will promote its new NFL reality show with a spot starring the Pittsburgh Steelers star (best known for his Head & Shoulders hair) in the role of “Punxatawney Polamalu” of Groundhog Day fame. Check it out for yourself and you’ll agree that it’s a hail mary touchdown for the network formerly known as Court TV.
FIELD GOAL CAMEOS
Lance Armstrong (Michelob Ultra) – The 57-time Tour de France winner will be peddling Anheuser-Busch’s low-calorie Michelob Ultra “beer.” I have mixed feelings about this cameo, mainly because I’m not sure how Lance will be used in this spot. Will he be biking? Will he be hanging out a backyard barbecue? I’m also not excited about this spot because, well, Lance Armstrong is boring.
Brett Favre (Hyundai) - On the brink of his fourth (fifth?) retirement, the Viking’s quarterback will pop up in an ad for Hyundai. The car really doesn’t match the celebrity, which counts against this ad. The only think keeping this from being a fumble is the awesomeness of Brett Favre and the fact that he’ll be aged with make-up and shown mulling retirement as the NFL’s newest MVP in the year 2020.
Harry Potter (NBC Universal’s Universal Orlando) – Hogwarts’ most distinguished alumni will appear in an ad promoting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando’s theme park. I saw the spot. Anyone over the age of 20 will probably use that 30 seconds to grab another beer, but the kids should like it, which makes it a long field goal here.
The 1985 Chicago Bears (Sprint Boost Mobile) – Back in the 80s, some football players named Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary and a few other guys made a video called “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” It was really popular. Now they’re remaking it for this ad for some kind of cell phone service. People from Chicago will love it. Everyone else probably won’t. The kick is up! It’s good!! (Barely.)
Charles Barkley (Taco Bell) - Charles Barkley is fun to watch because you never know what he’s going to say next and he’s a generally cool guy, which makes this spot for Taco Bell’s new NBA Five Buck Box worthy of three points.
Tracy Morgan (Volkswagen) - This is another odd celeb/auto match-up (see Brett Favre + Hyundai), but this one might score only because Tracy Morgan is so funny he could star in a spot for the Humane Society with all those sick animals and make me laugh till I cried.
Kiss (Dr. Pepper) - This spot, which I’ve seen teaser clips of, has all the ingredients of a big game bust. Overexposed, over-the-hill rock stars? Check. Overproduced spot with out-of-place product thrown in? Check. An ad we’re likely to forget by halftime? Check.
Tim Tebow (Focus on the Family) – This year’s most talked about spot, featuring the Heisman Trophy winner and his mother sharing their pro-family/pro-life message, will probably make people talk. Too bad they’ll be saying “I took my bathroom break during the game for that?!”
Danica Patrick (GoDaddy.com) - The newest part-time member of the NASCAR line-up is back in another titillating GoDaddy spot. I guess I’d be more excited if I were part of GoDaddy’s target audience, which apparently is 15-year-old boys.
Stephen & Billy Baldwin (KGB) - KGB, aka “Knowledge Generation Bureau,” is some sort of service that answers questions via text message. Two guys best known for being Alec Baldwin’s brother will star in an ad for them. I texted KGB and asked “Who’s a lamer celebrity cameo choice than Stephen & Billy Baldwin?” I’m still waiting for a response.
Beyonce (Vizio) – The world’s most overexposed celebrity making an appearance in a Super Bowl ad which will be watched by 500 million people worldwide? We didn’t see that one coming. You might remember this one after it’s over, but only for the flashy song and dance. As for the product (I think it’s some sort of soft drink or internet video social network thing), you’ll probably forget it before the next spot even begins.