EW's Scorecard for This Year's Super Bowl Ads

By Brian M. Raftery
Updated February 09, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

If this intro were running during last week’s Super Bowl — for which 30-second ads cost $2.3 million — we’d already be in debt. So let’s cut to our cheeky checkup on 2001’s selections:

Brian M. Raftery

Best Example of Animal Magnetism Visa produced a crop of copulating rabbits; and EDS, a stampede of squirrels. But it was E*Trade that ruled the jungle, using a prime-time-friendly primate to poke fun at the high-cost festivities. In the telecast’s smartest and most memorable spot — an homage to the infamous 1971 ”crying Indian” PSA — E*Trade’s tearful chimp perused the wreckage of the dotcom fallout (including a Pets.com-looking sock puppet). More proof of comedy’s golden rule: Monkeys are always funny.

Best Reason to Bring Jerry Seinfeld Out of Retirement Aside from ‘N Sync’s anti-drinking spot, celeb sightings were rare — and that’s only if you consider Bob Dole, Sarah Ferguson, and the Doritos girl ”celebrities.” Dole’s Pepsi ad spoofed his old Viagra campaign — and stripped him of any political dignity he had left. Cedric the Entertainer’s ad for Bud Light finished with a none-too-subtle image of his date being doused with brew. Almost makes us miss that Pepsi pixie. Almost.

Best Year 2000 Nostalgia Homer Simpson said it best: White people are so lame. Thus implied Budweiser’s bit where geeky phone pals squarely intone ”What are you doing?” in a send-up of their ”Whassup” spots. Self-parody is a risky gag, but it was handled with just enough gleeful aplomb. Snickers Cruncher co-opted the ubiquitous Bud greeting with a smirky segment featuring catchphrase-spouting dolls getting the crap stomped out of ’em by stressed-out folks. After wading through this year’s feeble game, we felt their pain.

Best Boob- and Beer-free Spots HotJobs.com got points for subtlety with its clip of a lone silver ball escaping a stuffy office (set to the Mamas and the Papas’ ”Go Where You Wanna Go”). The antismoking group American Legacy Foundation went for the throat with a bedridden man who harangued cigarette companies via his mechanical voice box. But it was wireless provider Cingular who tugged the heartstrings hardest, featuring cerebral palsy-stricken artist Dan Keplinger at work. Touching? Yes. But the connection to Cingular is fuzzy. At the risk of launching another catchphrase, what are they doing?