Looking back on the Super Bowl ads, good and bad


Looking back on the Super Bowl ads, good and bad

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- The pressure was on. The tension was thick. And then, there were yawns in between. The Super Bowl may have been a nail biter, but the ads were a snooze. Actor Clint Eastwood waxed for two minutes about Detroit and Chrysler. An M&M candy stripped "naked" at a party. And stars from the 90s were everywhere, as were dogs and babies, of course. Companies paid an average of 3.5 million for a 30-second spot for the right to duke it out Sunday in front of the expected 111 million-plus fans. But it was all so ordinary with fewer surprises. That's mostly because nearly half of the 70 Super Bowl advertisers put their spots out online in the days leading up to the game. That's a big difference from last year when only a few spots were released ahead of time. And the companies that did wait until game day for the "big reveal" didn't take many risks. In fact, most settled on cliche plots with kids, celebs, sex and humor. "Advertisers this year are playing it very safe," said Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University. "They're running spots that are clearly designed to appeal to a broad audience and not to offend." Here's a look at the game's ads, play by play: SEX SELLS -- OR AT LEAST ADVERTISERS HOPE IT DOES Advertisers showed a little skin in their Super Bowl. An ad for domain name-hosting site GoDaddy shows racecar driver Danica Patrick and fitness expert Jillian Michaels body painting a nude woman. A spot for clothing retailer H&M features soccer star David Beckham in black-and-white in his undies. And online florist Teleflora and automaker Kia both use Victoria Secret's model Adriana Lima in their Super Bowl ads. But perhaps the two most blatant examples of "letting it all hang out" came from car companies. Toyota's spot for its "reinvented" Camry features a "reinvented" couch made up of women wearing bikinis. "It also comes in male," a voiceover in the ad says while showing a couch of shirtless men. And among the few standouts for the night was a Fiat ad that equated seeing the car for the first time with making out with a sexy Italian super model. The tagline: "You'll never forget the first time you see one." "They did a good job of showing that some decisions are made with the heart, some decisions are made with the head and the Italian car decision resides in the groin," said Greg Dinoto, chief creative officer of advertising agency Deutsch in New York. "It was sexy and surprising and fun." BABIES AND DOGS, OH MY Who doesn't love cute animals and babies? Advertisers are banking there aren't many among us. That's why Doritos used both. One Doritos spot shows a man being bribed by a dog with the chips to keep the animal's dirty secret about a cat's disappearance. In another spot, a grandmother uses a slingshot to hoist a baby up to grab a bag of Doritos that belongs to a boy in a tree who had been taunting the baby with the chips. Those two ads were crowd favorites, said Peter Dabol, who analyzes advertising effectiveness at research firm Ace Metrix. The firm polled 500 viewers about the ads to find the most popular. "It's a typical Super Bowl, funny carries the day," he said. "Advertisers are driving for attention and likeability." Likewise, Skechers shoe company introduced its new running sneaker with an ad showing a French bulldog winning a greyhound race by wearing the shoes, of course. The dog then moon walks across the finish line. And software company 2nd Story Software's ad used toilet bowl humor, literally. The ad to promote its free TaxAct software shows a boy who looks everywhere to find a respectable place to relieve himself. He winds up going in a pool. The tagline: "Totally free. Feels good." THE STARS WERE OUT Celebrities always draw attention. And advertisers took a gamble that using stars would be enough to grab attention. Chrysler, one of nine automakers advertising during the game, aired a Super Bowl ad starring Clint Eastwood. The aging actor talks about the rebirth of Chrysler and Detroit. The two-minute "Imported from Detroit" ad, one of the few spots that weren't released before the game, follows the company's ad last year that starred rapper Eminem. "How do we come from behind, how do we come together and how do we win?" he asks. "Detroit is showing us it can be done. What's true about them is true about all of us." Chrysler's ad was among the few standouts on Sunday. "Those very few ads that weren't overexposed up front ended up with a real advantage," said Raymond Taylor, a professor of marketing at the Villanova School of Business in Villanova, Penn. Meanwhile, real-estate company Century 21's ad shows that a real estate agent is able to outdo speed skater Apolo Ohno on the ice, business mogul Donald Trump in business and former football player Deion Sanders at an open house. And in an ad for Pepsi, "The X Factor" winner Melanie Amaro belts out "Respect" for music icon Elton John, who plays a king in the spot. "Pepsi for all," she says. At the end of the ad, John finds himself in the dungeon with rapper and reality TV star Flavor Flav. REMEMBER THAT? NOSTALGIA FACTOR Some advertisers attempted to tug at viewers' heart strings by stirring up old, fond memories. Honda's ad for its compact sports-utility vehicle CR-V shows actor Matthew Broderick living a grown-up version of his 1986 hit movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The ad includes two dozen references to the movie. An Acura NSX ad features 1990s comedic titan Jerry Seinfeld battling with late-night talk show host Jay Leno over the sportscar. The ad includes Seinfeld references like a cameo by the "Soup Nazi" character. And during Downy's pre-game ad, the company remakes one of the most classic commercials of all time, Coke's 1980 spot "Mean Joe Greene." In the original, a little boy gives a gruff football player Joe Greene a Coke as he comes off the field. The Downy remake stars Greene and actress Amy Sedaris (in the little boy role) giving Greene a can of Downy fabric softener.

Willson Contreras apologizes to Cubs fans on Twitter and again makes his presence felt in World Series

Willson Contreras apologizes to Cubs fans on Twitter and again makes his presence felt in World Series

CLEVELAND — Willson Contreras became the first Cub in franchise history to apologize on social media for pimping a double in a World Series game.

These Cubs are trying to write their own history with a group of young players who love the game and play it with flair and a definite sense of swagger. That raw talent and those emotional sparks helped this team win 103 games and its first National League pennant since 1945. Major League Baseball desperately needs more personalities, and the Cubs are delivering that hoped-for surge in TV ratings, with Fox no doubt rooting for the drama of a Game 7.

As much as the Cubs run on adrenaline, they also don’t crash hard, bouncing back with a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night before the World Series shifts to what will be a wild scene in Wrigleyville this weekend.

Contreras made his presence felt in Game 2 by helping Jake Arrieta flirt with a no-hitter, holding the Indians to zero stolen bases, getting on base three times and learning from his mistake the night before. Facing Indians closer Cody Allen — with his team down six runs in the ninth inning on Tuesday — Contreras hammered a 92-mph fastball and watched it fly at Progressive Field.

Contreras flipped his bat aside, took about five steps and then started to realize that he needed to hustle and follow manager Joe Maddon’s “Respect 90” philosophy.

“I swear I didn’t see it,” Maddon said. “I guess we’re setting a record for the most guys under 24 years of age. And I want to believe that (with) a lot of our youngsters — as they gain more experience — you’re going to see a lot of that stuff go away.

“But I did not notice it. I jumped out to see the flight of the ball and I saw it hit the wall. But I did not see what he was doing. So I would not have known that had you not brought it up.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

It did not go unnoticed within the clubhouse, which has already seen Javier Baez do the same act during the playoffs. A veteran Cub said something to Contreras, who posted a message on his Twitter account:

Contreras has been a quick study, absorbing a sophisticated scouting/game-planning system and learning how to work with a veteran pitching staff filled with different personalities. Maddon paired Contreras with a Cy Young Award winner — keeping Miguel Montero on the bench — and will rely on the rookie catcher with a rocket arm to help control the running game against an aggressive Cleveland team.

“He’s an energizer, there’s no question,” Maddon said. “When you talk to him, he definitely engages you. He looks right at you when you’re speaking to him. He’s passionate about his job and very bright.”

Lesson learned: When Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis misplayed a groundball with two outs in the fifth inning, Contreras sprinted to first base and reached safely on the error. That pushed Bryan Shaw — Cleveland’s second of six relievers out of the bullpen — to keep working. Back-to-back walks to Jorge Soler and Addison Russell then forced in an insurance run that made it 5-0.

“I want to compete,” Contreras said. “It feels good when you win the (battle) against one of the best closers in the big leagues. (But) I was wrong. My first thought was get the phone, tweet it out. I knew it was my fault. But it won’t happen again.”

With essential contributions from Baez (NL Championship Series co-MVP) and Contreras (9-for-25, .949 OPS in playoffs), the Cubs have obliterated the narratives about this team playing too tight and worrying about what happened in the past and expecting something to go wrong.

“We all are like brothers,” Contreras said. “We support each other. Either way, Americans or Latin players, we are one team. We’re able to be ourselves because of that confidence that they give us. Maddon gives you the confidence to go out there and play your baseball and do what you got to do.

“That’s important for us — feel freedom.”

Cubs: Even Kyle Schwarber's teammates can't believe what they're seeing in World Series

Cubs: Even Kyle Schwarber's teammates can't believe what they're seeing in World Series

CLEVELAND — Kyle Schwarber fielded a question that, in light of another astonishing performance in the World Series, wasn’t ridiculous: Is this game just that easy for you?

Schwarber collected a pair of RBI singles and drew a walk in the Cubs’ 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the World Series Wednesday night at Progressive Field. This is a guy who, until Tuesday, last saw a pitch from a major leaguer in early April and only had six at-bats against live pitching in the Arizona Fall League before being added to the Cubs’ World Series roster. 

“It’s not that easy, first off,” Schwarber said. “Baseball’s a crazy game.”

Crazy is one way to describe what Schwarber has done at the plate in the first two games of the World Series: In Game 1, he blasted a double off the right field wall off Indians ace Corey Kluber and worked a walk against all-world reliever Andrew Miller. In Game 2, he got the green light on a 3-0 fastball and ripped a single up the middle to score Anthony Rizzo in the third inning, and in the fifth, he punched a single through a drawn-in infield for another RBI. 

And it bears repeating, because it’s such a stunning fact on this stage: Schwarber went 201 days without a major league plate appearance. 

“We should just skip spring training next year,” third baseman Kris Bryant sarcastically quipped. “You'll be fine. Just jump right into the World Series and have success. No big deal."

After Schwarber’s first RBI single, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was shown on Fox’s broadcast clapping and yelling “Atta Boy!” from the stands at Progressive Field. Epstein’s front office wouldn’t budge on dealing Schwarber to the New York Yankees for Miller, who’s become an X-Factor for the Indians in the postseason, seeing a searingly bright future for the former No. 4 overall pick in the middle of the Cubs’ lineup for years to come. 

But at the trade deadline, when he was still working through his grueling rehab from a torn ACL and LCL, nobody could’ve predicted Schwarber could be an X-Factor for the Cubs’ chances of winning their first World Series since 1908. 

“I can see why Theo sent a plane for him,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I would, too. That's a lot to ask, but special players can do special things.”

The visiting clubhouse and press conference room at Progressive Field was buzzing with Schwarber talk after the game, with plenty of the questions asked by the media centered around Schwarber. And everybody associated with the Cubs was more than happy to talk about him. 

“I mean, how do you square (pitches) up after that long when you're facing this quality of pitching?” left fielder Ben Zobrist said. “I mean, I feel like when I go into spring training every year, every ball going past me is 115 mph. To see the ball and be able to square it up like that, he's that good of a hitter."

“To even be able to put himself in this position to be on the World Series roster, and to contribute the way he has is remarkable,” starter Jake Arrieta said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I remember hearing Smoltzy (Hall of Fame pitcher and Fox announcer John Smoltz) comment on the broadcast, and this guy played for 20 years, he said he's never seen anything like it. For a guy to be able to do something like this in his second year is just, you know, I'm kind of speechless.”

“I didn't know what to expect,” Bryant said. ‘I’m sure people expected the world out of him. We knew he'd contribute in some way and that's why he's on the roster, but for him to do it this quickly and have at-bats like that — I mean, every at-bat he's had so far, he's worked a count, a couple walks, big hits, it's really impressive."

With the World Series shifting to Wrigley Field for the next three games, Schwarber needs to be cleared by team doctors to play the field to stay in the Cubs’ lineup. It’s a medical decision that’s out of manager Joe Maddon’s hands, but if he has clearance to make Schwarber more than a pinch hitter over the weekend, the Cubs will roll with the middle of the order they envisioned at the start of the season. 

Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist and Schwarber combined to reach base in 10 of their 20 plate appearances and drove in four of the Cubs’ five runs in Game 2. 

Said Maddon about having Schwarber hitting fifth: “It makes your lineup longer, it makes it thicker. It makes it better.”

Schwarber’s return from that devastating, gruesome injury could go down as one of the astonishing, improbable storylines in baseball history if he helps lead the Cubs to a championship. He wasn’t supposed to return to the Cubs’ lineup until 2017, but here he is, driving in runs, pumping up his teammates and blowing the minds of almost everyone watching the 2016 World Series. 

"I've never had to do what he's had to do. In this situation, I don't know that anybody has,” Zobrist said. “(He) sat out basically all year and then gets put on the playoff roster. No. 1, most teams wouldn't even do that, especially as a hitter. And then on top of that, to actually have quality at-bats and put some good swings on it — I mean, there's no one else in history that's done that, right? To get a hit in the World Series. It's just crazy. It really is."