The Day After

Super Bowl 2003 had hits and misses.

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It's the day after the Super Bowl and time for some Monday afternoon quarterbacking. Here's some moments from this year's game that resonated in ways good, bad and -- well -- you know. To view AdCritic's entire gallery of 2003 Super Bowl ads, click here.


Holy Horse Wrangling Budweiser's "Replay" -- from Hill, Holliday and Believe Media director Zack Snyder -- represents so much of what Bud does so well. While last year's game saw the Clydesdales employed, appropriately, in a more somber activity, Bud returned the beasts to the field this year with a simple, funny idea executed with gusto. The stars of the spot are a vision of gorgeousness; shots of them lined up with their white-striped faces in a row are stunning, and, is it me, or is there a moment here where they have actual expressions of anticipation, bordering on impatience? OK, maybe it's me. But it's a good brand spot that also happens to be great to look at.

My Face Is Burning What else can you say? Willie Nelson has run afoul of the taxman and is forced to shill for a ridiculously unsuitable product in the Super Bowl entry from H&R Block. The result is a solid comedy moment from Campbell Mithun and Hungry Man director Bryan Buckley. Willie's either a great actor or he really didn't enjoy any of this.

When It's Game Time, It's Pain Time Again, I'm not sure what this says about me, or if I should be concerned, but I found there to be too many magical moments in Reebok's "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker" to recount here. Terry's performance is on-the-money, and every bruising hit is just so hilariously executed. Not sure about how this will affect the Reebok brand, but it was a standout, guns-blazing Bowl gambit from the shoemaker.

Speaking of Trains Cadillac came through this year with the very fine "Train," from Darcy/Detroit. Been a long time indeed. Been a long time since Caddy raised our eyebrows and since a car ad did anything different with the old cars-driving-through-the-arid-expanses scenario. This ad brings us a new way of looking at those scenes, through the eyes of a swing-era gentleman who boards a train and witnesses a time shift and a new generation of Caddies through the window. A nice moment when the Zep tune kicks in, and a nice expression of desire on the man's face.

Crazy Knits a Sweater for a Hamster The NFL spot "Crazy" out of Y&R, produced through NFL Films, gives us the eminently watchable Don Cheadle waxing cool about the ways football redefines the word. This spot makes me want to watch football and I haven't been a devoted fan since my team, the Cowboys, were a factor.

Truckers Wanted The Monster spot "Drivers" is a solid effort from Arnold. The spot has a really appropriate and likeable tone and effectively fills the brief, spreading the word about Monster to "white collar, blue collar, no collar" employment seekers. A particularly compelling production moment comes as the out of control truck narrowly misses the precarious stand of birds-that-dip-their-beaks-in-water, being sold by a R. Crumb lookalike by the roadside. Director Baker Smith strikes again.


The Bad News for Bud Aside from "Replay," Bud was responsible for some other nice work in the game (the "Reggae" spot, from DDB, for example). Some of the other Bud moments, however, missed the mark. Apologies for holding the brewer to a higher standard (how can you not with spots like the Bud Light "Fridge" spot from Downtown Partners DDB and DDB/Chicago's Real Men of Genius in the vault?) but a few of the spots this year just didn't cut it.

Even though Bud dips regularly into the gender-differences and babes trough, the resulting ads are usually done with style (see last year's "Greeting Card"). This year's spot from Fusion Idea Lab in which a guy tells his lady friend he wants to score her roommate; "Good Listener" from Goodby, Silverstein, in which a guy's nattering gal pal's words come out sounding like the play by play of the game he's really watching as she speaks; and "Yoga" from DDB/Chicago are not. I guess they have some "truths" they are trying to convey, but they just come off as mean-spirited.

Mickey Rourke summed up such things this way in a particularly fine scene from the classic film Barfly: "Obviousness. Unoriginal macho energy."

Buffalo Soldiers Overall, Levi's "Stampede" spot is OK, but there are a few moments in it that are just so overwrought that it prompts one's eyes to roll toward the ceiling, rather than back in one's head in ecstasy at the sexy coolness of it all.

"Can I Open My Eyes Now?" Yes, now that the Pizza Hut "Ring" spot from BBDO, containing this cringe-inducing line line, is over. Again, is it wrong to expect more from the agency that has so many Super Bowl ad "rings" to its credit. I think not.

Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine.

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