February 3, 2013

THE SKED: Super Bowl Ads


Hollywood didn’t have a particularly strong presence in this year’s Super Bowl (won, for those living in a very well insulated cave, by Baltimore, which held off San Francisco 34-31), despite the fact that the abrupt 35-minute semi-blackout just after halftime felt like it could have been the first act of a Die Hard movie.  There were only 6 movie ads aired during the game (click on the titles to see the clips), and 4 of them–Oz The Great and Powerful, World War Z, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Iron Man 3–were either short cutdowns of trailers we’ve already seen or brief new glimpses.

That left Fast & Furious 6 and The Lone Ranger.  The former mostly served to confirm that the Fast & Furious franchise is edging into superhero territory, featuring ever-bigger and less believable stunts created through the very evident magic of CG.  The extended 90-second Lone Ranger ad (which must have cost in the neighborhood of $10M, even if Disney got a bulk discount for its total of 2 1/2 minutes in the game) kept the movie’s tone something of a mystery, as it shifted from relatively serious western to jokey action farce without doing much more than blowing things up along the way.

As for the non-movie commercials, they were the usual mix of ads designed to convince viewers that the right beer, car or snack food would make the buyer absolutely cool and irresistible.  Among the more memorable were a Taco Bell bit about misbehaving senior citizens (mostly for its inventive use of the Spanish-language version of fun.’s “We Are Young”), a lengthy Samsung sketch with Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Bob Odenkirk, a Best Buy ad with Amy Poehler, the Rav 4 commercial about a family’s wishes being granted, the Kia gag about babies being delivered from outer space, and a couple of the Doritos bits. The WTF commercial of the day was obvious:  the remarkably singleminded homoerotic ad for Calvin Klein underwear.

That opposite side of that ad’s coin, and perhaps the most characteristic non-football moment of the night, was when the post-game episode of ELEMENTARY began (after primetime had already ended in most of the country, thanks to the blackout), and the very routine procedural started with an utterly gratuitous stripper sequence, presumably because someone at CBS had decided this was the way to hook in what was left of the football audience.  That group must been highly disappointed in the conventional hour that followed.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."