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Dogs win best of show in this year's Super Bowl telecast

By Anthony Lauriello     2/7/12 6:00pm

This Sunday, millions of Americans saw Eli Manning and the New York Giants assume yet another exciting victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, but the Super Bowl isn't just a football game – it's an entertainment extravaganza, an unapologetically rococo celebration of America and its culture. I could easily spend hundreds of words describing the culmination of the NFL's 2011 season, but those who care already know. Instead, I write about the other Super Bowl, the one that exists off the gridiron.

The Patriots kicked off at 5:30 p.m., but the pregame show began six hours beforehand. The show lagged with Bob Costas' human-interest stories and B–List celebrities' football predictions. Mercifully, around 5 p.m., the pregame show ended and the kickoff show began.

Normally, the national anthem would precede the start of the game, but to maximize the American-ness, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert sang "God Bless America" as a prelude to Kelly Clarkson's rendition of the national anthem. Unfortunately, the indoor stadium precluded the obligatory fighter-jet flyby. Unlike last year, when Christina Aguilera butchered Francis Scott Key's lyrics, this year's patriotic odes were functional and unsurprising.

After the kickoff, the commercials began. This year featured a great many dogs. Perhaps advertisers figure that in this election year we all need a cute, loyal friend. Whatever the reason, the two most prominent of these canine marketers were Bud Light's "Here We Go" ad and Skechers' "Mr. Quigley." The former concerned a trained dog named "We Go" who fetches Bud Light faster than a freshman pledge at a fraternity. The latter chronicles a pug that wins a dog race with Skechers running shoes. The Skechers ad is unremarkable, but the showboating move that Mr. Quigley performs seems to foreshadow the Giants' running back Ahmad Bradshaw's butt-first touchdown that won the game for New York.

Other noticeable commercials included Kia's ad about a husband's dream involving buxom scantily clad women and, more incredulously, a Kia sports car. As always, the perennial ads were there: the monkey coworkers for Monster, the polar bears for Coca-Cola, the talking E-TRADE baby and the Go Daddy models almost exposing themselves. One has to wonder about a marketing strategy that bets on men visiting Go Daddy's website to satisfy their urge for naked women. One of the best advertisements this year came from Chevrolet, depicting Chevy pickup truck drivers surviving the apocalypse, in contrast with Ford owners.

Of course, the ads and national anthem weren't the only things of note. There was the halftime show featuring Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. Madonna, the aging pop singer, dressed in a faux gladiator outfit. In tow entered the stadium with backup dancers in tail. In accordance to the post-wardrobe malfunction years, Madonna went through her obviously digitally enhanced songs with nothing really interesting happening save a toga-wearing slackline performer whose tricks were as cool as they were rather absurd.

Ultimately, the Super Bowl is a football game, but that is not why millions of people tune in every year. They do so because it is an event. Through commercials and half-time shows the Super Bowl transcends the average sporting competition and becomes an American holiday.

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