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Alan Pergament: My best and worst ads before Super Bowl Sunday

The Super Bowl of commercials, the time advertisers show off their creativity before the big game Feb. 3 between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, has begun.

As all the sparkling new ads dribble out before they premiere nationally on Super Bowl Sunday, let’s look at some of my favorite ads currently running and those I can’t stand to look at.

Thanks to the DVR, I generally try to avoid as many ads as I can.

But I do enjoy some ads.

I already have my favorite for best Super Bowl ad campaign.

I became an instant fan of the Verizon advertisement that played during the American Football Conference title game Sunday between the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs in a campaign that celebrates first responders.

The ad for the campaign, titled “The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here,” really is a brief preview of 12 very short pieces filmed by director Peter Berg about NFL players and a coach who have been saved by first responders.

The brief commercial advises viewers to go to the website to see the films, which range from a few minutes to five minutes.

I was intrigued enough to immediately go to the website.

One of the strongest pieces features AJ McCarron, who was briefly a Buffalo Bills quarterback. He was about 4 years old when a jet ski accident led to a gruesome injury that almost cost him his life. He explains that the left side of his face has eight metal plates and six screws. I dare anyone to watch McCarron and his mother talk about the accident and the heroic work of the first responders without being moved to tears. An abbreviated version of the ad ran during Tuesday’s emotional episode of NBC’s “This Is Us.”

A second member of “The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here” is Anthony Lynn, the former Bills coach who now is the coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. First responders also saved his life after a hit-and-run accident caused him to fly 45 to 50 feet in the air after being hit. “I didn’t think this guy is probably going to make it,” said the first responder in the longer feature on Lynn. Lynn added that being treated so quickly saved his life. “I should have died that day and I didn’t,” said Lynn.

An ad that is currently running – and I mean running – that puts a smile on my face doesn’t even tell you what the product being advertised is until the end.

It has numerous people running in colorful outfits to the tune of “run away from the humdrum” before viewers find out it is an advertisement for a new Apple phone.

I love the colors, the energy and the music in that ad so much that I never fast forward it even when I watch a recorded program.

Another one of my favorite ads is for the Surface Pro and features recently retired NFL star Brian Orakpo and former Tennessee Titans teammate Michael Griffin. It starts with Orakpo shouting: “Sweat, dedication, cupcakes.” Then he and Griffin explain they have a cupcake business and the Surface Pro helps them with designs. It makes me smile because it is so surprising to see NFL players owning a cupcake store that some people watching the ad doubt it is true.

I’m also fond of an ad in which a father helps his 20-something daughter prepare a meal for a boyfriend via video conferencing while he is in another home. I smile every time I see his daughter’s reaction when dad asks who is coming over to dinner.

I find the ad for a snack in which action star Jean-Claude Van Damme advises people “don’t get Van Dammed” mildly amusing because of all the outfits he wears and the absurdity of him being a spokesperson for anything.

I think the anti-smoking ad in which smokers give excuses for continuing their habit before people show the consequences is one of the more powerful public service ads because it is subtler and less graphic than most anti-smoking ads.

I’m not a fan of the AT &T commercial in which people say they are OK with things that should be better, including wireless service. It is, well, just OK.

My least favorite ad is the one in which a man interviews “real people” about car companies that ends with them being surprised that Chevrolet cars grade out better than foreign cars.

Nor am I a fan of the ad for CarMax featuring an ordinary family man who is responsible for a baby, a dog and a young daughter while he explains how easy it is to get financing. Those ads are the definition of humdrum and make me want to run away.


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