Two Super Bowl Spots Stand Out

For those of us who watch the annual gridiron classic mostly for the ads, Super Bowl XLV was multidimensional. Not only had we seen several of the most highly touted spots on chat shows before the game and on Web sites even before the game was over, but you had to grab them quickl—because—with spectacular Orwellian flare, several advertisers revised their spots based on unfavorable public reaction shortly after they aired.

Apparently, despite paying a reported $3 million for 30 seconds of air time, HomeAway decided the image of tossing a realistic doll "test baby" against a window wasn't as funny as first thought. Maybe that's because its eyes blinked in pain after impact (didn't their focus groups see that?). Just as quickly, Groupon reneged on offering Timothy Hutton a discount coupon for Tibetan fish curry as a PC response to the woes of Shangri La.


“Pug Attack” starred Oko NoNo as the snub nosed pooch. But out of the 60 high profile ads, two spots made the whole experience worthwhile. The best of the Doritos' "Crash the Super Bowl" pro/am competition spots was "Pug Attack", created by JR Burningham and Tess Ortbals and starring Oko NoNo as the snub nosed pooch. Not only did they win $25,000 and Super Bowl tickets as competition finalists, their prize was sweetened with $1 million for reaching No. 1 on the USA Today ad meter.

JR shot the piece with a Canon EOS 7D digital SLR camera with Nikon prime lenses and edited it in Final Cut Pro at his production company Myth Makers Entertainment.

"We had two weeks to come[up] with an idea, shoot it, and edit it," JR said. "With a budget of about $500, that forced us to be simple, which is most effective for short commercials."

There was 11:13 left in the first quarter and Green Bay's Tim Masthay had just kicked the ball into the Steeler's end zone when we saw the geeky face of actor Jeff Lorch hold up a Doritos chip behind a glass door taunting "Want a Dorito?" Cut to a gallant pug named Oko NoNo charging into camera across the lawn. Editing back and forth, the pooch launches at the glass when, crash! The pug slams though the door which crashes into the room, pinning Jeff under the glass panel. Cut to the Doritos billboard just before Oko NoNo triumphantly muzzles into the fallen Doritos bag to retrieve her prize.

The editing technique JR employed involved more than juxtaposing disparate images to create a synthesized impression in the audience's mind. His cutting turned the viewers into active participants by first playing off of their fears for the pug's safety (is the dog really going to smash into the glass?) and then its retribution at achieving unexpected victory (Oko got the Doritos, Jeff got his just desserts). Brilliant!

"I thought if I can make my Dad laugh, I could capture the humor of the Super Bowl audience," JR said.

Turning $500 into a million bucks seems to indicate it worked.


Born of Fire promoted the revival of Chrysler and Detroit. Photo by Wieden & Kennedy Later, with 4:29 left in the third quarter, the Super Bowl XLV experience was elevated by not just a commercial spot, but an anthem for our times. Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had just suffered his first sack and Shaun Suisham missed the field goal when the span of a gritty, industrial bridge wiped across the screen. For the next two minutes, Chrysler presented us with a magnificent balm for the wounds of our country's heartland that burned with the fiery spirit of rejuvenation.

Produced by the Wieden & Kennedy agency and directed by Samuel Bayer, Chrysler Group LLC's "Born of Fire" uplifting contribution was edited by Tommy Harden, assisted by Eric Hill, on an Avid Media Composer at the Joint editorial house in Portland, Ore.

Although nominally a spot featuring rapper Eminem (born Marshall Mathers), the voiceover was actually from Michigan actor Kevin Yon. Editor Harden used its raw-bones impact as inspiration for his cutting.

"All we really had was the voiceover script on paper," Tommy said, "and the creatives told me to think of it as a drive into Detroit seen through the perspective of a passenger in a car. But I was never told to put a specific shot over a specific line."

As a result the ad was really created in the edit bay. In fact, although close-up glimpses are sprinkled throughout the commercial, it was Tommy's decision to never actually reveal a full product shot of the new Chrysler 200 sedan until Eminem drives up to Detroit's famed Fox Theatre a full 1:18 into the spot.

The way Tommy describes it, "Those words of the voice over came to me as if they were engraved in gold. So we wanted to send a hard message about the spot's celebration of the resurrection of Detroit before revealing the car. To me the reflections of the city off the car leant itself to this different way of talking about honesty and truth as a form of luxury."

As the voice over said, "You see, it's the hottest fires that make the hardest steel." Now that's a message for our times. That's a Super Bowl spot.

Jay Ankeney is a freelance editor and post-production consultant based in Los Angeles. He can be contacted at