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Super Bowl commercials show creativity trumps special effects

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(Read caption) The best Super Bowl commercials were ones like the Kia 'Babylandia' ad that showcased creativity rather than a huge budget.

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So what to make of the spectacle that was Super Bowl XX something-or-other?

Good game in the end. A real nail-biter.

The ads? Definitely a mixed bag, but if there was a takeaway on what separated the good from the bad and ugly, it was that more special effects, larger casts, and louder music add up to much less than a good idea well-executed, be it still photos of stoic American farmers, the intimate partnership of colt and trainer, or the sexy charm of the Fiat family. Kia's “Babylandia” spot won the hearts of viewers not so much for the effects, but for the design of the effects – very old-school futuristic, like the toys we played with as kids – and the dad's realization that the fairy-tale he was spinning wasn't working. The little ones already knew!

The entertainment – I'm still exhausted from watching every second of Beyonce's... show? Workout? Martial arts? What was that, anyway? No doubt she's got it all. But does she have to do it all at once? Call me old-fashioned, but I like a song that moves me in some way, and I'm not talking about the drum machine. I get that one needs to gin up the “spectacular” to qualify as a Super Bowl Spectacular. But Prince put on quite a show and the songs still stood out. Madonna's songs stood out. The Who, Tom Petty, Springsteen. When songs become relegated to background music merely to support dancers and pyrotechnics, I glaze over, and I don't think I'm alone if you look at the online reaction to Beyonce's performance.

As for Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys, I was entertained and moved, but the best performance of Super Bowl XLVII had to be the spunky kids from Sandy Hook Elementary. Not to mention the awesome choreography!


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