Amusing Monday: Ads feature mermaids, fountains and Bublé

Someday, on one of these Super Bowl Sundays, I won’t be able to find any funny commercials with a connection to water to fit the theme of this blog. But that was not the case this year. So, as I have in past years, I am sharing some commercials suitable for this “Amusing Monday” weekly feature.

I guess I should mention that many critics were not thrilled with this year’s Super Bowl ads. It has become a pastime for business and media writers to review the commercials, knowing that some people tune in to the game mainly for the ads. This year, critics could not agree whether the game or the commercials were more lackluster.

Part of the problem, said Eric Deggans of NPR, is that advertisers were trying too hard not to offend.

“That left viewers with a lot of spots centered on emotional tributes to first responders and soldiers, artificial intelligence and robots acting out and awkward celebrity cameos,” he noted. “One example: Charlie Sheen, reading a newspaper as Mr. Peanut speeds by in a car shaped like a peanut, looking up to say, ‘and people think I’m nuts.’ Really.”

In all, 54 advertisers spent about $5.25 million for each 30 seconds of screen time, and together they produced a total of 93 commercials. One can review them all by going to iSpot.com, which lists them by the quarter of the game in which they were shown.

Amazon

One of the highest-rated commercials in Sunday’s game was an Amazon spoof about new products being linked up to Alexa, which allows voice commands to get things done. Not everything should be controlled by voice, as explained in the ad, which you can see in the first video on this page. For example, when you talk to Alexa in your hot tub, you might get an out-of-control fountain, like the one at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The Amazon commercial also shows another failed product: a dog collar that can turn a dog’s bark into an order for dog food. Harrison Ford appears unamused as he demands that his dog cancel the order.

Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer

The most obvious water-related commercial was a pair of mermaids, Bonnie and Vivian, promoting Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, a new name for a recently reformulated Anheuser-Busch InBev product. According to E.S. Schultz of Ad Age magazine, the brewer wanted to name it bon vivant, a French term meaning “one who lives well,” but the two women’s names fit right in.

The ad, shown in the second video player, was crafted to avoid sexual innuendo, often associated with mermaids, according to Chelsea Phillips, vice president for “beyond beer” brands at AB InBev.

“It has two females in a founder position and presented in a different way than we have ever seen alcohol present females characters before,” Phillips was quoted as saying. “The strength of these women is very important to me. As a female VP, I want to see more of that representation in this space, but I didn’t want it to be a trope. I just wanted it to feel natural … versus more of an overt statement.”

Initially, I missed the “Shark Tank” TV show reference, as the two mermaids pitch their products to some animated sharks.

Stella Artois

Sarah Jessica Parker revives her role as Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City,” while Jeff Bridges returns to the same bar as The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” The shocker comes when Carrie orders a Stella Artois beer instead of her usual Cosmopolitan, and then The Dude follows by eschewing his regular White Russian for a beer.

Some critics were mortified that two iconic characters would be lowered to this commercial level to sell beer, but others enjoyed the clever revival of these established characters.

As a side note, Stella has participated in the water.org campaign since 2015, helping to provide water access to 1.7 million people in need of clean drinking water.

Michael Bublé or Bubly

Singer Michael Bublé plays along in a 30-second ad for Pepsi’s sparkling water brand Bubly, which just happens to have a similar name to his own. The title of the commercial is “Can I have a bublé?”

The ad is promoting four new flavors — blackberrybubly, cranberrybubly, raspberrybubly and peachbubly, — to add to the eight existing flavors, but you might not know that if you’re not watching closely.

“I might be Canadian, but I’m a big fan of American football,” Bublé says in a press release. “I had a blast doing my very first Super Bowl commercial with bublé – I mean bubly. Because of our similar names, the brand and I share a special bond. I love how the cans are bold, bright and full of personality. They’re perfect for any Super Bowl viewing partés you might be having.”

Washington Post

Aside from the humorous videos, The Washington Post bought time near the end of the game to remind us all of the importance of a free press and the professional journalists who tell everyday stories and sometimes sacrifice everything to bring truth out of the dark corners of the world.

As Tom Hanks says as narrator in the WaPo video, “Knowing keeps us free.”

Again, if you would like to see all the Super Bowl commercials, check out iSpot.com, which lists them by the quarter of the game in which they were shown.

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