The Best And Worst Super Bowl Ads

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As the Pittsburgh Steelers scored a big win last night, Denny's "serious breakfast" and William Shatner in a van also proved victorious. The beer ads, however, were a waste of time, says TV critic Andrew Wallenstein. Conan O'Brien's appearance, in particular, was pointless.


Back now with Day to Day. Danica Patrick in the shower, a guy forced to work underneath the rear of a giant moose, Conan O'Brien prancing about in a red mesh vest. Either you know what I'm talking about, or you didn't watch the Super Bowl yesterday. Ads for the big game run as high as $3 million for a 30-second spot. Here with his assessment of whether that money was well spent is our TV critic, Andrew Wallenstein. Thanks for coming in, Andrew.


BRAND: So some listeners may not have seen the big game. I thought we'd give them a little taste of what they missed. Here was one of my favorite ads. It features three mob guys. They're sitting around having breakfast.

(Soundbite of Super Bowl ad)

Unidentified Man #1: I got a feeling Benny talked.

Unidentified Man #2: You want me to take care of it?

Unidentified Man #1: I think it's time we let everyone know what happens to people...

(Soundbite of foam)

Unidentified Man #1: Let every...

(Soundbite of foam)

Unidentified Man #1: Know what happens to...

(Soundbite of foam)

BRAND: So that sound is whipped cream that's being used to make silly faces on their pancakes. It's an ad for Denny's. They say they offer a serious breakfast. I thought the ad was hilarious. Andrew, what was some of your favorites stuff?

WALLENSTEIN: I would agree that was definitely one of the better ads, just that counterpoint of the gangster mentality and the whipped cream nozzle. (Laughing) I'm laughing just thinking about it. You know, the truth is I can't say that there were any great ads, nothing that was truly iconic.

If I were to single out something else, William Shatner in Priceline. He does it to me every time, and they came out with another great ad where he was in a van outside a home doing a sort of a voiceover that was just unforgettable.

(Soundbite of Priceline Commercial)

Mr. WILLIAM SHATNER (Actor): I can help, but you must say exactly what I say, exactly how I say it.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SHATNER: Honey?

Unidentified Man: Honey?

Mr. SHATNER: I just got a...

Unidentified Man: I just got a great deal on a four-star hotel at Priceline.

Mr. SHATNER: There's never been a better time to...

Unidentified Man: Name your own price...

BRAND: Usually, it's the beer ads that generate the most talk come Monday. And Anheuser-Busch, it seemed to be going more sentimental this year than hilarious, which is usually been its take. What was your review of the beer ads?

WALLENSTEIN: Another unmemorable year, really, for the beer ads. And the thing that really bothered me most was that Bud Light spot with Conan O'Brien.

(Soundbite of Bud Light commercial)

Mr. CONAN O'BRIEN (Host, "Late Night With Conan O'Brien) : I hear what you're saying. I just don't do commercials. It's not my thing...

WALLENSTEIN: He's actually sitting there with an advertising executive who has explained to him, look. Do a commercial, but we'll only show it in Sweden. It won't show up in the U.S. Then, of course, it shows up in the U.S., and Conan gets really angry.

(Soundbite of television ad)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Vroom vroom, party starter.

Mr. O'BRIEN: It wasn't me.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: Hey, Conan. Vroom vroom, party starter.

WALLENSTEIN: And it just bothers me when the advertising industry calls attention to itself in an ad. I don't think the average consumer really cares for that sort of meta-analysis on the part of Madison Avenue.

BRAND: Of course, all these ads are incredibly expensive, and they come in the midst of an economy that's in serious turmoil. Based on the ads you saw, do you think it was worth it for them to spend that kind of money?

WALLENSTEIN: You know, there's a school of thought that suggests that it's during a recession or worse that that's the time where you really do have to do your advertising, and I thought we saw that really all the major companies were out in force. I mean, $3 million dollars for 30 seconds is a lot, but I think it could be argued that it's really money well spent.

BRAND: Andrew Wallenstein is Day to Day's TV critic and the deputy editor at the Hollywood Reporter. Thanks, Andrew.


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