Super Bowl 2011's Best Commercials

The Super Bowl isn’t just the biggest night of the year for football fans, it’s also TV advertising’s main event.

Possibly more entertaining than anything the NFL can come up with, this year’s crop of commercials featured everything from a helpful beaver to Justin Bieber. Despite their variety, most of the spots fit into one out of a few categories. Here’s the best of the groups.

Movie Trailers

Most of these movies are months away from hitting theatres, but that didn’t stop filmmakers from seeking future moviegoers. Animated parrot flick Rio and Steven Spielberg’s Super 8 stood out amongst early looks at movies including Kung Fu Panda 2, Captain America,Rango, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Thor, Mars Needs Moms, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Fast Five, Battle: Los Angeles, and Limitless.


Gratuitous FOX-related advertising

There was no mistake what channel the game was on this year! Barely five minutes went by without mentioning the upcoming premiere of The Chicago Code or the Chevy-sponsored return of Glee. That didn’t stop some of these network plugs from being entertaining, though, especially one starring a modern-day Mean Joe Green, Dr. Gregory House.



Nothing gets people’s attention like an animal (or in Volkswagen’s case, a beetle) doing something unusual. One of the Bowl’s best commercials was that of a father grizzly celebrating his cub’s good grades with some McDonalds takeout.

Bridgestone tires showed us why it is always a good idea to brake for beavers.

Volkswagen’s speeding bug gets her own theme song.



The best ad ideas usually continue on to the next year. Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses continued the tradition by briefly appearing in this Western-themed spot.

“You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” is the message of a famous Snickers campaign, which featured Richard Lewis, Roseanne, and logging this year. monkeyed around in the parking lot this year.

The E*Trade baby is growing up, and so he needs a tailor for a new suit.


The Soda Wars Continue

In this year’s battle between Pepsi and Coca-Cola, Pepsi loses with their juvenile attempts at humor. One of the worst ads I’ve ever seen featured a man and a woman out on a date, complete with voiceovers of the typecasted snippy female and the sleazy stereotypical male. The best the company had to offer is this dumb revenge of the average guy.

However, Coca-Cola kept it classy with this peaceful time-out.



Some ads tugged at our heartstrings, like this Volkswagen Dad who gives his little Darth Vader “the force”.

And this romantic spot for the Motorola Zoom tablet has a cool 1984 theme, a sly jab at Apple’s famous groundbreaking ad and current electronic dominance.



Last year’s shock-collar spot was funny, so there were similar bites of offbeat humor this year. Despite a pointless sliding door sequel and a look at guy who goes to inappropriate lengths to get a taste of the snack, this spot featuring a neglectful house sitter was memorable.



Some ads would just be out of place on regular TV. This Best Buy commercial features Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber in Tron-style suits, for no apparent reason.

Apparently, Chevy trucks have something in common with Lassie.

Bud Light’s most memorable moment was this party for dogs.

The NFL puts on an awesome Super Bowl party, featuring everyone from the cast of Happy Days to South Park.



There were many celebrity-fueled ads this year, but Eminem’s drive through Detroit gave the Chrysler 200 some style.

One of Janis Joplin’s hits plays on the radio of a runaway Mercedes Benz, in this funny spot featuring P. Diddy.


Sexism Continues

And now a message for advertisers: women watch the Super Bowl. Not all of us are insufferable stereotypes who live to put men down. We don’t live to be drooled over, and we don’t care what kind of sneakers Kim Kardashian wears. Furthermore, if you didn’t describe the driver in this Chevy Camaro ad as “hot”, then it might’ve been cool.




By the Book

Jack Halberstam's 'Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire' (excerpt)

Enjoy this excerpt of Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire, wherein Jack Halberstam offers an alternative history of sexuality by tracing the ways in which wildness has been associated with queerness and queer bodies throughout the 20th century.

Jack Halberstam

Sotto Voce's 'Your Husband, the Governor' Is Beautifully Twisted DIY Indie Folk-rock

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Gabos releases another odd, gorgeous home studio recording under the moniker Sotto Voce.


Numün's 'voyage au soleil' Is a Trippy, Ambient Ride and Ambitious Debut

Eclectic instrumental trio numün combine a wealth of influences to create a vibe that's both spacey and earthy on voyage au soleil.


L7's 'Smell the Magic' Is 30 and Packs a Feminist Punch

Abortion is under threat again, and there's a sex offender in the Oval Office. A fitting time, in short, to crank up the righteously angry vocals of feminist hard rock heavy hitters like L7.


Can Queer Studies Rescue American Universities?

Matt Brim's Poor Queer Studies underscores the impact of poorer disciplines and institutions, which often do more to translate and apply transformative intellectual ideas in the world than do their ivory-tower counterparts.


Jim White Offers a "Smart Ass Reply" (premiere)

Jesus and Alice Cooper are tighter than you think, but a young Jim White was taught to treat them as polar opposites. Then an eight-track saved his soul and maybe his life.


Ed Harcourt Paints From 'Monochrome to Colour'

British musician Ed Harcourt's instrumental music is full of turbulent swells and swirls that somehow maintain a dignified beauty on Monochrome to Colour.


West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".


Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?


Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

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