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Seinfeld, Coca-Cola and Cheerios: Which Super Bowl Ads Scored?


I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. So there wasn't much suspense on the field in last night's Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks blowing out the Denver Broncos. But for fans who sit through the football to watch the ads there was plenty of action. Here to tell us more about the commercial hits and misses is Eric Deggans. He's NPR's TV critic. Welcome back. Thanks so much for joining us.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So let's start with what seems to be a fan favorite. Cheerio's brought back the adorable interracial family for the Super Bowl. Let's hear a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Father) Hey, Gracie, you know how our family has daddy and mommy?


ACTOR: (As Father) Yeah. That's right. Pretty soon, you're going to have a baby brother.

ACTRESS: (As Gracie) And a puppy.

ACTOR: (As Father) Deal.

MARTIN: Unfortunately, what you can't see is how she's already perfected the sister neck roll. You know, you can't see her eye - her facial expressions as she's negotiating for that puppy. But one of the reasons we wanted to talk about this one is this sparked - I don't want to say - was it a lot - I mean, the fact that there was any kind of racist comments online at the time that the ad premiered last year. Similar reaction this year or not?

DEGGANS: Last year, there was a different - the same sort of characters were featured in a different ad. And the mother's white, the father's African-American. And they have, obviously, a biracial child together. And when that ad when online last year, there was a ton of racist comments posted on the YouTube page for the ad, which then led to lots of news stories about those comments, which then led people to really rally round the ad and support it.

So now Cheerios has doubled down, and they created a new ad with the same characters. The other thing you can't see is the expression of the mother when the guy - when the father says, we're getting a puppy. She's like, who's going to take care of this, you know...

MARTIN: Who's going to take care - yeah, exactly.

DEGGANS: ...In her face. But what's wonderful is that, again, people have rallied around this ad. It was released early. It got lots of positive publicity. And I think people wanted to make a statement of supporting the ad to show that they feel differently than some of these people who posted stuff online about it.

MARTIN: But speaking of posting stuff online, another ad that got a lot of attention was Coca-Cola's "America the Beautiful" ad.


DEGGANS: We're hearing "America the Beautiful" sung in Spanish. We're hearing it sung in Tagalog, in Hindi. So we're hearing it in many different languages while we're seeing this wide diversity of people. And the message is simple, you know, America's strength comes from its diversity. But on one side, you had people who were strongly resisting this ad. And then you had, what seemed to be a larger number of people, really supportive of the message, and they were warring on Twitter and social media.

MARTIN: Do you feel that this will result in any larger story?

DEGGANS: The whole struggle when one of these controversies kicks off - and we saw it with the Cheerios ad, too - is how much of the negative backlash is people who are just kind of trolls out there, who are kind of undesirable and marginal, and they don't amount to much, or is the negative reaction very significant? And does it reflect the views of a significant portion of Americans? And I think that's the question that Coke is going to face in the days and weeks to come.

Now what we've seen in some of the ad analyses that people like USA Today and others do is that the ad scored high, and people liked it. So even if there was a significant number of people who were outraged by it, it seems like there were many more people who liked it. Certainly, judging by what I saw on Twitter and what I saw in my own Twitter stream, people re-tweeting the ad and re-tweeting comments that I made that were supportive of the ad and also looking at the Facebook page of Coca-Cola. So certainly, that's what Coke is going to be looking at to try and judge whether or not this was a success.

MARTIN: Again, more news around the commercials that, perhaps, around the game. But before we let you go, there is one other ad you wanted to mention. Tell us about it.

DEGGANS: We saw a mini "Seinfeld" reunion. I mean, for a fan of TV, you got to love this. We had heard news reports in the week before that Jerry Seinfeld and that the fellow who plays George Costanza, Jason Alexander, and Larry David, the executive producer of "Seinfeld," that they had gotten back together again and they had filmed something at the iconic Tom's Diner, where the characters from "Seinfeld" always used to get together when the show was actually on the air. So we found out during the Super Bowl that there was a promotional spot for Jerry Seinfeld's online series called "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee." And so finally, we got to see Jerry and George and their nemesis Newman face-off together on television one more time.

MARTIN: Eric, thanks so much for joining us.

DEGGANS: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.