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King of Beer’ deserves crown

Stephanie DePrez | Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On Sunday night, years of hard work culminated in an epic smack down between the titans.

Of commercials, that is.

Once again, the greatest advertising campaigns came together for a battle royal with the prize being that ever-elusive trophy, the consumer. Some watch for the football, some for the half-time show, but most everyone can agree the Super Bowl just isn’t super without a rally of all the best commercials the industry rulers can bring.

Budweiser brought its best game, with a series of commercials involving the abnormal effects of its beer, and why the magical beer is no longer available.

Car companies went head-to-head, as Audi, GMC and Hyundai came on to the field with a take-no-prisoners approach. The Hyundai Genesis went all-out, with the narration surrounding style shots of the car announcing, “We’re not sure what the USA Today Ad Meter will think of this commercial tomorrow, but we’re pretty sure Mercedes, BMW and Lexus aren’t going to like it very much.” (Apparently no one did. It came out number 43 of 55 in the USA today rankings, which were published Monday.)

The ultimate goal of any TV ad is, of course, to get your attention. This is accomplished in a number of ways, the most obvious one being comedy. This year’s ads certainly didn’t lack laughs, but many other tricks were pulled out to grab viewers’ interest.

The most jarring ad had to be for Careerbuilder.com, and it involved a woman’s heart popping out of her chest, walking up to her boss and holding up a sign reading, “I Quit.” The odd beginning ended up being a call to “Follow Your Heart,” as the throbbing and astonishingly anatomically-correct heart bounced out of the office and started walking away.

The No. 1 USA Today pick was a sentimental favorite. Hank the Clydesdale reigned supreme by not only successfully training to be a Budweiser horse to the Rocky theme (with the help of a Dalmatian), but also by wining the hearts of football watchers everywhere. This ad came relatively early in the game, but came out on top as the best commercial of the Super Bowl.

Second place went to the disturbingly oversized carrier pigeons for FedEx.

A screaming squirrel that looked suspiciously like one of at Notre Dame wailed as he clutched his acorn, and he and his panicked forest friends took third place for Bridgestone.

Fourth place went to the mouse with a passion for Doritos. This delightful number was set to the eternal “Habanera” from Carmen. A man came home and set a trap for the mouse using a crumb from a Dorito. He sits down and bites into a handful of cheesy chips as a human sized-mouse breaks out of the wall and begins to punch him. Classic humor, really.

Overall, this year’s presentation wasn’t bad. GMC Yukon takes home the trophy for lamest commercial, with its naked stencil-drawn headless man pushing a circle up an incline as the narrator muses on about dreaming, pushing, changing and all the deep questions that he can think of. (We still have no idea what this has to do with the car.)

Gutsiest commercial had to be the one for godaddy.com, with Danica Patrick unzipping her shirt and a voice telling you to go to the Web site to see the rest (with viewer discretion advised).

Other highlights include Will Ferrell selling Bud Light, men falling for an ugly woman because she smells like Planter’s Peanuts, and parade floats duking it out for a giant Coke bottle.