The Super Bowl Ads You Didn't See: 2012

There are many reasons you may have paid attention to the Super Bowl. Most likely, you were interested in the game. (Hopefully, you’re a Giants fan—hooray for Big Blue!) If not, you may have been into the spread of cheesy, caloric snacks. You may’ve had some money on the game, or some crazy aspect of it. You might be a Madonna/Kelly Clarkson/bird-flipping MIA fan. You may’ve gone to a party with a secret agenda to get people to flip to the Puppy Bowl during the slow bits.

If you’re not a football fan—or a Madonna fan—and still watched the Super Bowl, though, you probably said you were in it for the commercials. Super Bowl ad spots cost a pretty penny—$3.5 million for 30 seconds, according to Slate—and it’s conventional wisdom that agencies debut their most creative, biggest-budgeted, most-talked-about ads for the event.

But while we know football fans were treated to a great game on Sunday, were local ad-watchers equally as lucky? I’m not so sure. Advertisers held back on some of the stranger spots, or cut down ads that were allowed to play longer on the Internet. Here are some Super Bowl ads you didn’t see during the big game—see for yourself if you should feel cheated.

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Will Ferrell’s Old Milwaukee Ad

Lots of celebrities do commercials in other countries, where they think fewer people will see them. (Check out this Japanese cell phone commercial, directed by Wes Anderson and starring Brad Pitt.) Will Ferrell has taken a different approach, doing ads for Old Milwaukee that, according to Vulture, only aired in Terre Haute, Indiana and Davenport, Iowa. The Super Bowl version of this series only aired in Nebraska. The only video we could track down of it was from someone who pointed a camera at his/her TV, but it’s worth it to see the way Ferrell pokes fun at the inflated sense of importance of Super Bowl commercials.

OK Go in Chevy’s Sonic Stunt

When the ad for Chevy’s Sonic played during the Super Bowl, you could see the car doing some amazing things: skydiving, bungee jumping, driving around oddball rock band OK Go. Wait, that last thing doesn’t seem so impressive. That’s because the actual “stunt” carried out by OK Go—a band that’s no stranger to doing cool things in videos, as the omnipresent treadmill video and even more impressive Rube Goldberg video can attest—is pretty much obscured during the commercial. The band hooked up a bunch of extensions to the car that, when driven, would strike various objects and make music to accompany one of their songs. Frankly, it seems much harder than getting a car to bungee jump, but you can’t tell because a different song played throughout the Super Bowl ad, which mostly defeats the presence of OK Go being in it.

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The Extended Ferris Bueller Honda Ad

Before the Super Bowl, one of the most buzzed-about ads was for the Honda CR-V. The spot stars Matthew Broderick and parodies his famous role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The curious could track down the ad online before the kickoff—but what aired during the game was far shorter than the online version of the ad. “The problem with the version of the ad that actually aired is that the truncations remove all the subtlest, funniest, most rewarding moments,” writes Slate‘s Seth Stevenson in his annual Super Bowl Ad Report Card. “We’re left with lowest common denominator Ferris.” Can you catch all the references?

The Hunger Games (or Any Other Big Movie) Trailer

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Debuts of big movie trailers are often a highlight of Super Bowl ads. This year, they were pretty lackluster. With the exception of a BattleBots trailer—excuse me, a Battleship trailer—and a mostly exciting ad for The Avengers, the big studios seemed to sit this game on the bench. Personally, I was super excited to see an extended trailer for The Hunger Games…but I missed it. Turns out, it only aired during the pre-game special. Oops! If you’re like me and were watching the Puppy Bowl until the kickoff, you can find the trailer here


What was your favorite ad? Let me know.

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