By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Feb 08, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Watch Tim Cuprisin's On Media on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411, with new episodes posted Fridays.

In a field of mostly forgettable 30-second spots, one 15-second promotional ad for a CBS program stood out during Sunday night's Super Bowl: the David Letterman-Oprah Winfrey-Jay Leno meeting on a couch.

Before going further, here's the spot:

The first account of the backstory comes from The New York Times' Bill Carter, who says Leno arrived in New York for last Tuesday's shooting wearing a fake moustache. Carter's sources say the spot was Letterman's idea, and there's a report from The Wrap that he also wanted the currently unemployed Conan O'Brien.

Most interesting is Leno's motivation. And right now, that's open to speculation. It could be his attempt to rebuild his image as a guy with a sense of humor, not just a victim.

Either way, it's the only real standout on a night when advertising should have shined. Luckily, there was a great game on the field.

The winners: I've been picking winners and losers among the Super Bowl ads for years, and I'll try and do it again, despite the sparse pickings.

My winner was Google's simple spot which kept us on topic for 60 seconds as it used its features to trace the course of a romance.

The product's name was there for most of the ad, without knocking us out. It told a complete story without a human voice or face. And in a year of generally unpleasant spots, it had a heart.

Here it is:

My second-place spot is a Wisconsin favorite, or at least former favorite, Brett Favre, making fun of himself for Hyundai.

Here it is.

There were other spots that provoked a laugh, including back-to-back spots with men not wearing pants -- Career Builder followed by Snickers; the E*Trade baby ads and the payoff of the Betty White Snickers ad, which paid off with proof that Abe Vigoda is still alive.

But I don't think any of them did the job as well as Google in selling the product.

The losers: My loser of the night is the over-hyped Tim Tebow-Focus on the Family ad, telling the "personal story" of Tebow and his mom. The anti-abortion spot, the only issue ad of the game, never even dealt with the issue and descended into slapstick comedy. 

The mission, of course, is to get you to go to the Web site. I don't think it will convince people not already so inclined.

Here's the spot:

The second worst spots came from, which has been spewing Super Bowl near-sleaze for year now, now with the cooperation of Danica Patrick. Here's one of them:

Ads like this make more sense in a game where the audience is overwhelmingly male. That's not the case with the Super Bowl, which draws a pretty mixed audience. A lot of the other ads seemed to paint a picture of men dominated by women, and men acting stupid.

Funny as some of them may be, the ads aren't designed only to make us laugh, they're supposed to work for the product.

And, no,  they have never made me reach for a Bud Light.

On TV: A South Milwaukee group called the "Mil-Town Treblemakers" won Channel 58's "Just Ten Minutes" commercial competition, with the winner airing during the Super Bowl. A tight second-place finish won some post-game airtime for a sign-language version of the jingle by a group from the UW-Milwaukee School of Education.

  • Tonight's "Hoarders," at 9 p.m. on A&E, features a Milwaukee story, as reported by my OnMilwaukee.comrade, Molly Snyder Edler.
  • I'll be joining late-night hosts Steve King and Johnnie Putman on Chicago's WGN-AM (720) tonight around 11:30 or 12:30 to talk about TV.
  • TMZ reports TLC's "American Chopper" will air its final episode at 8 p.m. Thursday, thanks to a legal dispute between the shows participants.
The next TV story: With reports of 10 inches to a foot of snow expected Monday night, the forecast is for wall-to-wall weather coverage on Tuesday morning.
Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.