Technology performed an outstanding social feat during the Super Bowl halftime show. It made Madonna sound like someone people used to enjoy in the early '90s.
The technology ads, on the other hand, didn't offer too much uplift or consistency.
Halftime saw Hulu revealing its full ad featuring Will Arnett. This was a very pale imitation of the original Alec Baldwin ad from three years ago.
Just when you were looking for someone to wander in and clean house, someone sounding like Clint Eastwood turned up. He was talking about Detroit, about how it was fighting, clawing, winning. He was talking about Chrysler. He was really Clint Eastwood, telling us that this was halftime for the U.S. car industry. The second half was still to be played.
This would be the same Clint Eastwood who was desperate to defend traditional Detroit values in the very underrated "Gran Torino." In which he was a retired Ford worker.
It's hard not to see this ad as political, as well as something intended to breathe new confidence into the people behind the car industry. It certainly demanded attention and treated the American people as the ones who are facing serious problems.
This was the true art of surprise. No tangible social media build-up. Just something that stopped the eyes and mind.
By the time the game was halfway into the third quarter, New England was winning on points and tweets. Twitter's special Super Bowl 46 feed followed the world's 140-character offerings on the game. The Patriots were over the 1 million mark, the Giants still under. Tom Brady was far ahead as a tweet subject: 275,000 tweets were about, well, him.
As for the ads, women--who make up a large part of the Super Bowl audience--continued to be largely ignored.
The Fiat 500 Abarth is a beautiful Italian car. It was, therefore, a vast leap of the imagination to portray it as beautiful Italian woman. The ad had its humorous moments. I just wonder how much women might have loved it.
The Toyota Camry followed quickly--again with some elements of humor on the theme of re-invention. But the re-invented couch made out of nubile ladies might have made some consider whether only men buy Camrys. It was an enlightened relief to see that there was suddenly a gay option for the couch.
It was also a relief to see a yogurt ad in which John Stamos was head-butted by a woman. I can imagine she wasn't the only one wanting to offer a Glasgow kiss (as they call it in certain Anglo-Saxon parts) to so many of these advertisers.
Then, yet another car ad, for the Acura NSX. Here was a slightly odd-looking Jerry Seinfeld, together with the Soup Nazi and Jay Leno. Was it funny? In mysterious and unintended ways, perhaps. It was very expensive, though. And, yes Leno and Seinfeld are both car collectors. Somehow, though, car collectors represent the opposite ethos espoused by Clint Eastwood in the Detroit ad.
I turned my eyes to the game, to the dour, rugged nature of the exchanges, when along came an ad from a company that seems to be moving jobs back from China to Louisville. It's GE. Its fridges are now being made in Kentucky. Again, there was a vast political element to this ad. Well, this is America's Day.
I am sure there will be those who will suggest that Apple learn a little more about this peculiar development.
The Ferris Bueller/Matthew Broderick remake for the Honda CR-V has been well documented online this week. Somehow, it already seemed old. A little like the car.
Kia employed Adriana Lima and Motley Crue to sell the Optima--a dream car, for real life. Allegedly. Somehow, all that production tended to mask what part of the car was dreamlike--even in a mundane reality.
The CareerBuilder monkeys made their usual appearance. And disappearance. I am sure some find them funny. I am sure some enjoyed the monkey's arm placed dangerously near the worried executive's groin.
One's attention was then arrested by Samsung's latest--and most insane--attempt to assault the very ethos of the Apple fanboy in its launch of the Galaxy Note. This ad was so breathtakingly silly that it became enjoyable, especially for anyone who has bathed in glam rock, felt it, and understood it.
The music came from The Darkness. So did the ad.
Some might find it sad to see no Google, no Apple. Indeed, it seemed the tech presence (depending on how you define tech) was a little muted. But perhaps many of the Super Bowl ads reflected the need of traditional industries to reassert themselves in a socially networked world.
In advertising terms, there were certainly more appeals to patriotism by giant, old-school companies. And my favorites were the ones that demanded a reassessment for their brands.
In the game, the Patriots proved themselves to be lesser giants than the Giants. You'll be wondering about the tweets, though. At the end of the game, the Patriots still led in total tweets by less than 100,000.
SECOND HALF WINNERS: CHRYSLER, SAMSUNG, GE.
SECOND HALF LOSERS: HULU, GO DADDY (Yes, there was more), HONDA CR-V.