It was just after the top of the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII when I caught a glimpse of John Stamos and some of his old “Full House” buddies in a commercial for Oikos, Dannon’s Greek yogurt.
“Hey, it’s John Stamos,” the people in my living room said as they gawked. He looked older than most in the room remembered him but it didn't matter.
“I’m still thinking about that Bruce Willis ‘hugfest’ ad,” said someone else.
In the Honda spot, Willis, in a close up, asked viewers to hug their loved ones while actor Fred Armisen clung comically to him. The message had something to do with Honda’s top safety-rated cars and the 'power of dreams' – but the sight of Willis and Armisen in their trendy non-stop hug is what stuck in the brain.
“Never mind those old guys – Bruno Mars killed it at halftime,” said someone else.
Somewhere in all of this, a friend texted, “Between Twitter and all the commercials I am barely watching the game.”
“Ditto,” I wrote back. For me that was partly because I have a love-hate relationship with professional football, appreciating the physical skill of the athletes but abhoring the violence. Even so, it was super clear that in this Super Bowl, Seattle and its young quarterback Russell Wilson were crushing the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
With a score of 43-8 with 9 minutes to go, everyone on the Seattle sidelines was wearing broad smiles, while the Bronco players were the definition of dejected. But the celebrities kept shining on Sunday night.
Before the game Queen Latifah sang a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful.” It was picture perfect.
Opera star Renee Fleming gave a soul-soaring rendition of our national anthem. “That’s the way ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ should be sung,” said someone.
Joe Namath, grinning in an oversized fur coat, took part in a coin toss that was less than smooth. Somewhere in the crowds watching the game were singer Harry Connick, Jr., with his wife, Jill Goodacre, plus actors Jamie Foxx and Hugh Jackman and countless others.
Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander, looking older but lovably familiar, even reprised their “Seinfeld” roles in an ad during half time.
But the puppies! Near the end of the game came the ad starring the adorable puppy that couldn't bear to be separated from its buddy, the Budweiser Clydesdale – just about blowing everybody away. “Aww…. the puppy!” people said.
"The Clydesdales!" said others.
“That puppy ad and the one with the Clydesdales welcoming home the soldier,” texted my friend – “they just get me every time!”
It’s not clear what Budweiser spent on their smashing ads – the average cost of a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl was $4 million. But whatever millions they did spend, they got everyone oohing and aahing. The puppy and Clydesdale ad was a hit even before Sunday night: Last week, within 24 hours of the ad’s appearance on YouTube, it was viewed 17 million times – and by Sunday morning, the commercial had been played 32 million times, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Maybe all those other ads should've wedged in a puppy somewhere. (Hug a puppy, anyone?) But the celebrities did just fine.
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