By Justin W. Sanders
A record-breaking average of 111.3 million viewers tuned in to watch NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, and were rewarded for their efforts with a closely fought game between longtime rivals; a mind-bogglingly elaborate, occasionally baffling Madonna halftime show; and of course, many, many commercials.
While it's hard to imagine any of this year's ads finding a place in Super Bowl marketing lore like, say, the E*Trade baby, the Budweiser frogs or Apple's chilling parody of 1984, that doesn't mean there weren't many standouts, with several coming from the television industry.
"The Voice" -- "Vocal Kombat"
"The Voice" scored a coup with the world's most popular senior citizen, Betty White, whose lovely singing wafts down into the lobby of a fancy hotel, interrupting a rather awesome fight scene between hosts Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. "It's about time somebody wanted me for my voice... and not my body," purrs White to end the ad.
Hulu -- "Hulubratory"
Speaking of coups, Hulu brought in funnyman Will Arnett for a brief tour of the "Huluboratory," where, as Arnett describes it, "we invent the things that drive TV." There, we got introduced to Hulu Plus and its nifty mobile app, not to mention several errant tentacles and, ahem, a brain in a blender ("with a little sprig of mint.") It's debatable whether gobs of green gore and a strange, high-voiced scientist uttering "that's hot" while Arnett sips on a brain milkshake is conducive to watching digital TV, but at least this one was memorable.
NBC -- "Crank"
Another NBC in-house ad found rural villagers demonstrating the extent to which they will go to watch the network's Thursday night comedy lineup.
Time Warner Cable -- "Enjoy Better Anthem"
From the cable frontier, Time Warner showed us how to "enjoy better" with an action-packed spot featuring Ricky Gervais, Mary-Louise Parker and a pack of blood-thirsty zombies.
Chevy Sonic -- "Stunt Anthem"
Chevy Sonic impressed with a thrilling collection of vignettes from its "Lets Do This" campaign, which has crossed between numerous platforms in its quest to show the spunky car bungee-jumping, sky-diving, executing a crazy kick-flip and more. This Super Bowl spot is little more than a highlight reel culled from clips that have been available for a while, but combined with Fun's heart-soaring song "We Are Young" and the wacky members of OK Go, it definitely resonates.
Budweiser -- "Flash Fans"
The best spot of the Super Bowl, at least according to Forbes (though it's hard to disagree with them) didn't air in the US at all during the big game. Perhaps because it failed to include babies, dogs and scantily clad women, this Budweiser ad, wherein the promotional team surprised an amateur hockey team with a fan turnout befitting of a pro game, only played in Canada. But it's beautifully shot, wonderfully scored and entertaining as hell; in short, it has all the trappings of a Super Bowl classic.