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Breaking down the Super Bowl tech ads

Monday, February 4, 2013 - 7:34am

Yeah, yeah. We know. You just watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.

Here at CNN Tech, most of us also enjoyed what turned out to be a pretty competitive game. Not to mention an excuse to obsess over Twitter for a few hours.

But that didn't mean we didn't take notice of which Web and tech companies shelled out the big bucks to nestle in between ads for corn chips and beer in black bottles.

Gone are the halcyon days when every tech-bubble startup with a dream and a sock puppet advertised during the game. But plenty of heavy hitters were in evidence.

In no particular order, here they are, with a little tech-world analysis about what, if anything, they achieved:

We're calling this one the tech winner of the night. Because who doesn't love Amy Poehler?

The "Parks and Recreation" and ex-"Saturday Night Live" star rattles off rapid-fire consumer tech questions while playfully sexually harassing a Best Buy clerk (but in a really cute way). And saying "dongle."

Is it enough to get tech-obsessed shoppers to forgo online retailers for a good, old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store? We're not sure. But it was a valiant effort. It also showcased the store's emphasis on selling mobile gadgets instead of TVs or home electronics.

Some of our favorite one-liners:

• "What's LTE? Is it contagious?"

• "Can I use a dongle with this? Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word 'dongle'?"

• "What's the cloud? Where is the cloud? Are we in the cloud now?"

• "Will this (a tablet) read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to me in a sexy voice? Will you?"

The Web address clearinghouse kept to its usual Super Bowl-ad strategy. Which is to say, titillating some while annoying or disgusting many others.

This year, it was a splotchy-faced nerd (yay, stereotypes!) sucking face with supermodel Bar Refaeli. The makeout session, meant to highlight Go Daddy's "When Sexy Meets Smart" slogan, came complete with superimposed sucking sounds that would have felt right at home during a face-hugger assault from "Aliens."

At least race-car driver Danica Patrick left her clothes on this time. Everyone did, in fact, but that likely didn't appease many critics of GoDaddy's lad-mag-style commercials. Who was the smart one again? Not the woman? Gotcha.

All that said, how many more domain-registration companies can you name without a Google search?

Instead of focusing on a single product, Samsung used funnymen Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd basically to say "Samsung" a lot while pretending to fight over who will get to be in the commercial.

They both brandish Galaxy Note smartphones, while LeBron James makes an appearance via the screen of a Galaxy Tab. But the main point here seems to be to continue establishing the brand as a fun alternative to Apple (which, notably, didn't buy Super Bowl TV time).

And to let the world know Rogen would wear a diaper for Samsung.

Fresh off unveiling its BlackBerry 10 operating system and two new phones, the company tried to keep its badly needed momentum going with a 30-second spot in which a guy uses the new BlackBerry Z10 to set himself on fire, grow elephant legs and magically turn an out-of-control big rig into an exploding pile of rubber duckies.

Uh ... yeah.

The point? In 30 seconds, it's easier to show you what the phone can't do than all the things it can.

We get it. And the important thing is to get people talking. But when Gizmodo asks if it's "the dumbest tech ad you've ever seen," maybe it wasn't exactly the 108-yard touchdown run of advertising.

Once the darling of the Android world with its Droid phones, Motorola has faded as Samsung's Galaxy S III has become arguably the chief rival to the iPhone. So, how to get back in the spotlight again?

Apparently by putting Megan Fox in a bubble bath.

She wonders what would happen if she posts a nudie shot using a Motorola Blur.

Cue montage: Among scenes of a power line exploding and construction workers looking distracted, there's a stereotypically sassy gay couple slapping each other and some implied ... well, masturbation.

Are we sure this wasn't another Go Daddy ad?

We're not sure how far this will springboard Motorola, now owned by Google. But people will talk. And ... you know ... other things, apparently.

More creepy talking baby. Please -- make it stop.

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