Which Super Bowl commercial are you discussing around the water cooler today? The one where Steve Carell did that thing for Coke? Or was it Pepsi? Doesn’t matter; it was funny.
You might say, “We don’t have a water cooler at work. We have a fountain, or a bubbler, as some people say. I think those people are from Wisconsin. I don’t know why it’s a bubbler. A water cooler could be a bubbler, since it has those big noisy bubbles that sound like baby whale toots. But we don’t have one. So if I wanted to discuss the Super Bowl ads, I’d have to tail a truck that delivers those big, plastic bottles and follow the guy in, but that presumes I could get past security, and even if I did, just standing around in some strange office waiting for thirsty people in the hopes they watched the game seems like a waste of time.”
Yes, it does. Which is too bad. We’re always lamenting the days when everyone discussed television around the water cooler, because we had a common culture. There were only three channels — four, if you count public television, which in those days was called educational television because the shows consisted mainly of tutorials.
I imagine it went like this:
“You see Carson last night?”
“No, fell asleep. Can you move so I can get a cup?”
“Oh, sure. He had Burt Reynolds on. They were riding each other pretty good. Burt got off a good one. But you know it’s all in fun.”
“Sounds interesting. Well, it’s been nice swapping observations about our shared culture. See you around.”
Nowadays, with fewer water coolers, the opportunities to discuss these things are gone. It’s not the same talking to the back of someone’s head as he leans over the fountain. They don’t even know you’re talking to them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a colleague bent over the cool, fresh stream of water, and said, “Hey, do you get Hulu? I’m looking for a password so I can see this show I heard about.” And they straighten up and walk away because they had no idea I was talking to the back of their head.
Anyway, the Super Bowl commercials. Here are my top 10. Actually, I drew up this list last week before seeing any of the commercials, but I’d be surprised if anything has changed.
10: That Apple phone that had those people doing a hip, arty thing while some cool song plays, and at the end of it, everyone thinks: “Wow, I should look into this Apple phone thing. It sounds cool.”
9: The phone company that had that guy, the one who’s in the ads for the phone companies. With the glasses. He used to be with Verizon, and then he was with Sprint, which supposedly makes him credible. Anyway, he started talking really fast about how all the phones are loaded with spyware and they’re tracking everything you do, but then the screen went blank and a strange strobe light flashed for 10 seconds and no one could remember what the ad was about. People were like, “Was that weird? Did something happen? I was in the bathroom and missed it.”
8. Taco Bell. Remember the chihuahua that said, “Yo quiero Taco Bell”? He’s back, promoting the new QuesoGorditoDilla Supreme, which is everything on the menu put in a bag and hit repeatedly with a hammer, spread over a tortilla the size of a manhole cover and smothered with cheese and salsa until it stops thrashing. Anyway, the ad was simply 30 seconds of the dog in the backyard, hiding in the bushes, weeping.
7. Budweiser. The ad used computer-generated imagery to show 9,000 Clydesdales pulling an immense truck loaded with military veterans to an orphanage to distribute flags, puppies and apple pie. You were supposed to cry, you heartless monsters, but you all quit paying attention the minute you saw the horses because you knew it was about Bud, and you’re well aware of Bud.
6. Bud Light. They had four ads that told a historically accurate story. First, the dilly dilly king believes his beer is a good treatment for pox and insists on bathing in it, and he says, “Dilly dilly,” which some people still think is funny. Then he can’t drink beer because he has an abscessed tooth and the cold, refreshing beer hurts his molar. He can barely muster a single “dilly.” In the third, he is slain by his uncle, who assumes the crown. In the fourth one, the new Bud Light king leads his troops in a misguided war against France, with the survivors bringing the plague back to Dillyland.
5. That car you wouldn’t mind having. Matthew McConaughey drives around at night looking quietly pleased with himself and life in general. Wish I could remember what brand the car was.
4. Dodge’s new 150 Rancho Dinero X-Class pickup truck. With 16 deer tied on the roof, it drove straight up the side of Devil’s Tower towing a small aircraft carrier. Dodge Tough! Ram Strong! Northland Ready! Zero Down! Noun Adjective! Buy Truck!
3. The insurance company that has that lady in the white waitress uniform who’s funny — if she’s supposed to be. Did she used to be? Anyway, it’s not the company with the lizard. She went into space or something. Pretty cool, but I get my insurance through my credit union, so whatever.
2. The trailer for the next “Star Wars” movie, which had scenes of spaceships and people fighting with light sabers. Now I’m pumped!
1. That show about lawyer-cops who run a hospital. It premiered after the Super Bowl. It looked cool, but everyone was pretty beat by the end of the game and we all went home.
Pepsi! That’s what the Carell ad was for. I knew it was a soda. I’m sorry, pop. Don’t look at me like I’m one of those bubbler people.