When Abe Vigoda is the best you can do….

Your humble blogger watched the Super Bowl and found it both surprising and entertaining.  I’d read so many paeans to Peyton Manning over the past week that I’d come to believe that the game itself was just a formality. Oops. The ads, however, have made me fear for America. The Super Bowl is the place ...

TIMOTHY A. CLARY
TIMOTHY A. CLARY
TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Your humble blogger watched the Super Bowl and found it both surprising and entertaining.  I'd read so many paeans to Peyton Manning over the past week that I'd come to believe that the game itself was just a formality. Oops.

The ads, however, have made me fear for America. The Super Bowl is the place to launch memorable campaigns. For most of my adult life, I can remember laughing pretty hard at a couple of the ads at the very least. 

This year? Dear God, they were abysmal. It's telling that the funniest one was the Snickers spot featuring Betty White and Abe Vigoda. And the Coke ad featuring The Simpsons was kind of intriguing, with a very anti-populist message. 

Your humble blogger watched the Super Bowl and found it both surprising and entertaining.  I’d read so many paeans to Peyton Manning over the past week that I’d come to believe that the game itself was just a formality. Oops.

The ads, however, have made me fear for America. The Super Bowl is the place to launch memorable campaigns. For most of my adult life, I can remember laughing pretty hard at a couple of the ads at the very least. 

This year? Dear God, they were abysmal. It’s telling that the funniest one was the Snickers spot featuring Betty White and Abe Vigoda. And the Coke ad featuring The Simpsons was kind of intriguing, with a very anti-populist message. 

Other than that, the ads showed as much snappiness as The Who’s halftime show — which is to say, none at all. There were back-to-back ads where the joke was not wearing pants. My son described the Intel ad as "kind of creepy." The Audi Green ad was so over-the-top about eco-protection that for 90 percent of the ad I thought it was trying to covince Americans to block any measures to halt global warming. This Bridgestone ad was downright offensive. And, as near as I can figure, all of the Bud Light ads were designed by people forced to imbibe at least a keg of their product.

Screw the National Export Initiative — the Obama administration should set minimal quality standards  for Super Bowl ads.   

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.