Viewers treated to commercial appeal

Spots during telecast clever, catchy, funny

Super Bowl Xxxiv

January 31, 2000|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN STAFF

If you held off going to the bathroom during the Super Bowl to watch the new commercials, the good news was this: You didn't torture your bladder needlessly.

In between those endless ABC promos starring white-hot game show titan Regis Philbin -- he's doing a guest spot on "Dharma & Greg," he's bantering with Sipowicz on "NYPD Blue," heck, he's probably the front-runner to take the New Hampshire primary by now -- viewers were treated to some fairly innovative spots.

A Mountain Dew dude on a bicycle chasing a cheetah over the African plain was clever.

Leaping from his bike, the Dew dude wrestles the cheetah to the ground, reaches down the poor creature's throat and retrieves a can of Mountain Dew.

Then he waves his finger in the animal's face and scolds, "Bad cheetah!" as a Dew dude nearby says: "See? That's why I'm not a cat person."

Another Mountain Dew spot featuring the Dew Dudes singing the praises of their favorite soft drink to the tune of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was also catchy.

For dazzling special effects, the new commercial for Nuveen Investments, starring Christopher Reeve, was a clear winner.

Set well in the future, where cancer and AIDS have been cured by solid investments in medical technology, it features Reeve -- formerly paralyzed from the neck down because of a horse-riding accident -- rising from his chair and walking, albeit stiffly, to a podium.

Even if you're dot.commed out -- and who isn't these days? -- some of the emerging technology firms introduced new spots that were laugh-out-loud funny.

The EDS commercial featuring grizzled cat-herders talking about the travails of their job ("Herding cats -- don't let anyone tell you it's easy") was a scream.

Another winner was the e-trade spot featuring a chimpanzee dancing to a scratchy recording of "La Cucaracha" while two nerdy guys sitting in lawn chairs clap along.

E-trade also scored with a funny spot of a man being rushed into the emergency room of a hospital.

With the man propped on a gurney, a physician peers under the man's blanket and makes this sobering diagnosis: "He's got money coming out the wazoo."

But perhaps the most amusing e-trade spot featured a college basketball player who scores the winning basket and touches off a jubilant celebration.

As a scout hovers nearby and the player's dad envisions the NBA riches coming his son's way, the lad suddenly declares: "But, Dad, I don't wanna play pro basketball. I wanna dance."

And he commences to waltz around the court, singing.

Also amusing was a pets.com spot with the Sock Puppet whining: "I'm getting car-sick. I think I'm gonna pee."

Do these commercials make money for these companies? Or do viewers just laugh and get on with their lives?

At the end of the e-trade chimp spot, a silent message notes: "Well, we just wasted 2 million bucks."

Budweiser had a big night on the Super Bowl telecast. Particularly engaging was a spot where a dog on a Hollywood movie set is being coaxed to "cry."

"Think back to your worst day," the dog's handler says. And suddenly the dog remembers the day he was chasing a Budweiser truck and smashed, nose-first, into a landscaping van parked in a driveway.

The memory, naturally, sets the dog to howling, and the shoot continues successfully.

Almost as funny was a Bud Light spot featuring a man rushing for a crowded elevator. He manages to get one arm in the elevator -- the arm with a six-pack of Bud Light, naturally.

But no one in the elevator will open the door for him, and they all commence to party with the beer while the poor guy's arm, ostensibly, is being ripped from his shoulder socket.

And the award for the Biggest Let-Down of the Night went to Federal Express for its trumpeted Land of Oz spot.

As Munchkins sing off-key, a FedEx truck sets down in Munchkin Land with a package for the Lollipop Guild.

You'd need to drink the entire contents of a Budweiser brewery to find that funny.

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