Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

Another Super Bowl Ad review…Wide Right

February 11, 2014

I think most Super Bowl ads miss the point.

You’re on the largest ad stage there is, and most ads aim to get attention instead of driving emotion and message — you already have folks attention. The SuperBowl is probably the one event where people are as excited to watch the commercials as they are to watch the event.  Do you need to entertain, yes, but the right emotion can do that and leave a memorable impression about your brand.  Instead brands seem to settle for spitting on the table, they go after the attention they already have but forget about resonating or connecting.

In the order I saw the ads:

This ad had me hooked. Great copy, “The World is full of giants…,” interesting visuals, and a great read by a child narrator. It was a paean to the little guy, the underdog in all of us (and who doesn’t love the underdog). The ad had me hanging on the edge of my seat, waiting for the reveal, I thought it was the new Chrysler ad, a tribute to America and that uniquely American juxtaposition as the last super power and the world underdog. It had me… until it became and ad for Maserati.

WTF? How? Who? Is Maserati really out there fighting giants? The cars cost like $100,000, they aren’t underdogs at all. It was a jip, and I felt cheated. Seriously the ad left me angry, that they had manipulated me.

Got a laugh from the ad, but so what? Case and point, it entertained, but what’s the message? What’s emotion that Dorritos wants me to feel about their chips? Something worth stealing? Funny, but ultimately pointless, classic super bowl ad.

Huh? What? Who’s the ad for?

Ok, this might have been the best ad of the night. Maybe I was just the right demographic, but it was on-message, it was clever, and it was entertaining. The ad shows Radio Shack gets its out of touch in today’s world, that its been stuck in the 80’s (for lack of a better decade), it says they get they aren’t servicing your needs, and that’s going to change. Good use of the platform to announce a big shift in approach.

Was it a great ad, earth shakingly good? No, it was a little too irreverent to be great, but it was good and made its point.

I know I’m supposed to get all chocked up about this cancer survivor ad from Chevy, but I think it really missed the mark.  Too slow, and why is Chevy supporting Cancer survivors? I mean we all support cancer survivors, but what’s Chevy’s particular interest? How does this reinforce their brand image or message? Just seemed like a slow random spot that was trying too hard to make me feel something.

I liked this commercial too. It says something about the brand, and pertaining to my earlier point, it taps into a particular American contrast — feeling great, but being under estimated or appreciated. My problem with the ad is I have no what Weather Tech is or what they do. I love the positioning, but needed just a little more reinforcement of the information for this ad to be truly effective.

I thought the ad was funny, but unlike the Darth Vader ad,the irreverence in this ad didn’t really connect to a larger message. Somehow there was less a sense of truth in this ad that I could relate to. My kids thought it was funny though, though anytime they hear the word butt they laugh.

I liked this ad too. Unlike the Maserati ad, this ad fits into my  existing schema of what Coke stands for. Its interesting in so far, as its the type of ad a mature brand like coke can run, but a newer brand (Weather Tech) has more trouble pulling off.

I thought this was an interesting ad. I liked the use of Bruce Willis, and thought it was a good message for Honda. The end of the ad feels a little too silly for the message, it felt off tone. I think the ad would have been fine with just Bruce Willis or just someone hugging him (or him hugging his kids or something). The strange guy feels out of place.

Gosh, I would have liked to like this ad. Chrysler is tapping into those big themes, America, the Underdog, exceptionalism, and it had Bob frickin Dylan. I loved their “made in Detroit” campaigns from the last couple of Super Bowls. But this ad just never hooked me. Maybe it was the opening line, “Is there anything more American than America?” Is that supposed to be profound or ironic?

I mean great images, and it did have some great lines, like “you can’t import original, “you can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line,” and  “So let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phones, we will build your cars….”

But in the end, the pieces never add up. I wonder if ultimately that’s because of the choice of Dylan, who I see as so anti-establishment. The words seem ironic coming from a man who seems so anti-American exceptionalism in a way (not saying Dylan is anti-America, just that his brand runs counter to all those things associated with… well this ad). Eminem made sense for Chrysler, he’s associated with Detroit and has that edgy bravado they were portraying, Dylan, well, why Dylan? It just never clicked for me despite the various elements.

I thought this was a really nice ad for a sport that’s in decline due to worries about concussions.

It captures a truth, it captures all the things I love about the sport, it captures that unique sense of togetherness, of connection, that being a fan of a team can bring. It was kinda a beautiful spot, and I think potentially a powerful message.

Finally what would a Super Bowl be without a Scientology commercial…? Wait, what? Ok, this one was a bit of a surprise. Religion like politics are hard to judge because so much of your own identity comes into play. That being said, I think this is a pretty good commercial. While it didn’t appeal to me personally, I think it could be effective to connecting with folks who feel lost into’s world. The commercial felt modern and assured, it offered a solution — spirituality (not religion mind you) and technology. That’s a potentially a powerful mix.

As far as branding or re-branding the church, I think if you’ve never heard of or though about scientology its a really effective ad, if you had some idea of what Scientology is before hand, I not so sure it would help to overcome whatever doubts you (or I) hold.

So that’s it. Like the game, I thought the ads were mostly a bust. There were a few good ones, but in general I thought the ads missed the mark.

Best of the Night

February 6, 2012

I’ve been writing this post in my head since last night, but I’m still not sure I got it, but sometimes it’s more important to dive in than to dither in your thoughts. I started with the positive, here’s what I liked last night:

OVERALL

Dot.coms are dead, long live the car ads. Car companies dominated the buys last night.

I thought the ads were pretty “eh”, there were some good ones, but nothing that stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Consumer brands not afraid to go negative… Chevy, Samsung, Pepsi all had negative ads up.

THE BEST 

Probably the ad that people either loved or hated was “Halftime in America,” the Chrysler ad narrated by Clint Eastwood. I loved it. Yes, it was derivative of last year’s ad with Eminen. Yes, it was too long and sometimes too overwrought.  Of all the ads tonight, this was the one that I had a visceral reaction to.  I watched the game with my wife (who is a blast to watch football with, each play elicited a shriek or gasp of concern), despite backtracking this morning, immediately after the ad she turned to me and said, “That makes me want to buy an American car” — isn’t that the point?

Look, you can break this ad down in a lot of ways, but at the end of the day, I loved it because it was on-emotion and it connected with me at that level — and hell, I’m probably not even the target audience. Some called it the best political ad of 2012, as it harkens back to “Morning in America,” it acknowledges the best in us and speaks to American pride and spirit.  Chrysler = Detroit = America. And really is there any voice more soulful than Clint Eastwood.

An interesting entry from Hyundai. I really liked this ad as well (this was my wife’s favorite). Not as great as the Chrysler ad, but I thought it was an interesting framing for a company that people don’t really have a story for. I’ve never thought much about Hyundai as car company, but the idea that “they try harder,” that they’re in it together, that they keep working through problems is a great identity for any company.

My problem with an ad like this is, will people accept it? I have no reason not to accept it, but just because they say it doesn’t make it true. What’s the proof? I wish Hyundai would follow up with more ads along these lines, show me ways that the company has overcome problems, instead they followed up with this ad:

Funny and clever yes. On message and on-emotion…, not so much. How does this ad fit in with Hyundai’s message in the Rocky ad? It doesn’t seem to. Maybe it works as a way to get people to remember to Hyundai, but I didn’t even remember who this ad was for until I went back and looked.  I laughed at this ad, it was good entertainment, but not a great ad. In a way, this ad is a good representation of the ads last night, some nice entertainment, but nothing that was a great ad.

The Best ad that didn’t run in the US

I already talked about this ad. But thinking more about it, it reminded me of the old Bud slogan, “This Bud’s for you.” Bud was the drink for the everyman, for the unrecognized heroes out there, who do their jobs in quiet dignity. This ad harkens back to that tradition, and I think it would translate to America, it’s a shame Bud wasted their time with ads about Prohibition and partying through the ads, rather than this ad which is far more effective.

Ads my Kids like

Asher really liked this Coke ad.

It was funny, the polar bears are iconic coke messengers, but like a lot of ads tonight I think the humor gets in the way of emotion.  It’s funny, but not sure it’s really about Coke.

Owen’s favorite ad was the much anticipated Volkswagen “Dog” ad:

It was a funny ad, and while the epilogue was random, it made for a nice connection with last year’s ad.  I liked the genre busting that I saw in car ads last night, this ad led the way putting a story of desire for the car ahead of the attributes of the car.  It was funny and clever, but at the end of the day, it didn’t make me like volkswagen any more than I had before watching the ad.  I guess I agree with the guy in the bar, I liked the authenticity of the Vadar kid better.

Ads that people I respect liked

Really it was just this ad from Fiat. A couple of people who I really respect told me this was the best ad of the night, while I respect them…, they’re wrong…

I think this is a good ad — provocative and interesting. It tells a little story and is surprising, all good things. But I feel like the scope of the ad, the emotion it’s trying connect with (desire) is just not that big, it’s low hanging fruit. Compare the emotion of the Chrysler ad to this one, and this one feels small in comparison. Still it’s well executed and crisp, and does a great job of being on-emotion.

Emotion Wins

February 2, 2012

This is a Budweiser ad airing in Canada for the Super Bowl. I just have to say it’s a shame it’s not airing in the states, because it just might be the best beer commercial (or branding) I’ve seen. Not sure if Bud thinks Canadians are more cultured than Americans or just less interested in kicks to the groin or scantily clad women, but I think this ad despite it’s focus on hockey would be a winner in whatever market we it ran in.

Just because Americans don’t love hockey because this ad is so powerful emotionally it just plain works. Any weekend athlete can appreciate what those players felt playing that game under those circumstances.

It tells a great story about Bud too, it speaks to their values, and who their beer is for. You can’t do better than that.

You’ll pry that soda out of my dead sausage fingers…

February 9, 2011

With all the hoopla and spectacle of the Super Bowl ads, I almost forgot there was actually one political ad that aired during the big game.

Let me get this off my chest right away: This is exactly the type of ad I hate. A supposed real person, railing against the latest government injustice.  The “real person” in question is unusually well informed and amazing speaks like a policy wonk.

Sigh…, do these spots ever work? (Ok, this one did, but then again this one didn’t have actors channeling a poll.) This ad is obviously aimed at a certain segment of the population — folks who are angry and think government is too involved in our lives, so it may have some effect in getting them fired up against the Soda tax.

But really, “Government needs to trim it’s budget fat and leave our grocery budgets alone…,” I mean come on who wrote that line? Where does that come from?

What makes me so angry about this ad is that it’s essentially a cynical attempt to tie itself into some existing discontent. Oh, people are angry, tea party, government bad, socialism, blah, blah, blah, let’s make the ad about that.  There are no principles there except trying to scare folks into thinking that government is coming for your soda.  Look, I’m sure some people will see this ad, and they’ll get angry, but a lot of people remembered Mr Whipple too.

(As an aside, interesting to note that the most memorable super bowl ads were not the same as the most liked — which is more important…?)

Is this an effective, I don’t know, but let’s say that it is, does that mean it’s ok to create a badly executed, badly written cynical ad? Shouldn’t we be trying to do better?

I really hate ads like this one, have I said that already?

It’s the story stupid…

February 7, 2011

Super bowl ads. Everyone’s talking about ’em. On twitter, I linked to this article, “Super Bowl TV Spots (Versus All The Rest of the Year).” The gist was basically, yeah Super Bowl ads have a larger audience, but the quality of our work shouldn’t depend on the audience that’s going to see it. It’s summed up with, “Just seems to me that a TV spot is a TV spot. TV, radio, any media buy is a public appearance for which we ought to put on our Sunday best, no matter how large our congregation is.”

Super Bowl ads are known for their spectacle, for their over the top quality, but the ads that I always seem to like are the same ones I like the rest of the year, it’s the ones that tell a story and connect with me emotionally.  Seriously which ads to do you remember over the years?

Ad Age just did an all-time Super Bowl ad poll, it came down to Apple’s 1984 spot and Coke’s Mean Joe Greene ad, according the reader’s poll Mean Joe Greene crushed Apple’s ad.

(Here’s a link to all the ads polled: My favorites NFL “Crazy” & Reebok “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker,” Monster, “When I grow up,” and EDS “Herding Cats”– though it’s a little too much of a gimmick, I find it amusing).

I’ve never understood the appeal of the 1984 ad, though of the spectacle ads it does have a compelling narrative and emotional element (the drive to break free from Big Brother). But the Mean Joe ad, come on? Just watching it now, I was almost in tears. “Hey kid, catch…”

That brings us to this year’s ads which has the usual blend of stupid beer ads that aren’t funny the other 364 days of the year, the offensive — Groupon, the unremarkable…, can’t remember any of those, and the spectacle — Coke & Audi, which were all right, but will probably fall into the unremarkable category before too long.

So which ads did I think were the best. To me one stood out:

I don’t know if this ad was targeted to parent’s but it sure felt real to me. Another company might have gone for over the top, might have tried to make it funnier by making it more absurd, and they would have lost the reality of the moment. Absurd is fine if it’s real, but when it becomes surreal, it needs some element to ground it back to reality.  This ad feels so true to life to me, and it’s so well executed, down to the music, the way the child rushes past his dad at the end, and the surprised reaction at the end.

Does an ad like this sell cars? I would say yes. It’s clever and honest, and somehow sympathetic, and I believe it makes VW seem clever, honest and sympathetic. They could have shown the car racing around corners, but that wouldn’t hook me the way this ad does. That’s the power of emotion.

Along those lines the other ad that caught my attention was the Eminem Chrysler ad. A paean to Detroit (and America frankly), I think it’s a powerful ad, that appeals to that underdog spirit in all of us. I love the script, again eschewing talking about the car, the car is a symbol for something more powerful, and if you want to connect with that story, if you want that story to become your story, buying the car is a way of broadcasting that to the world.  I love the end tag, “Imported from Detroit,” simply brilliant.

Here’s my problem with it, do you need Eminem in it? Why not have him narrate the entire spot? The spot is great for 3/4 then it falls apart at the end. Why does he get out of the car? What’s the deal with choir?  It’s one of those commercials that had me, then loses me at the end. Don’t get me wrong it’s better than 90% of the car commercials out there because of the script and the music, but it ends up falling flat at the end.  Too bad.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the negative ads of the night…. What, wait you missed them?

How about this one:

The ad is obvious swipe at Apple from the 1984 reference to the white ear buds. I find the interesting, but not credible. The ad is trying to turn Apple from the rebel fighting Big Brother into Big Brother. But ultimately I’m not sure that I believe the argument coming from Motorola. I’m not sure what people think of Motorola, but rebel isn’t really one of the first ten themes that come to my mind.  So ultimately while I like the message aikido going on here, I’m not sure it can be successful without some other validation.

The other spot that I recall going negative was this one:

A lot of spectacle, pretty funny and well executed, but ultimately it felt like they were too clever. Audi is trying to be luxury for those who don’t want luxury or something like that. That might be the right position for them, and this ad communicates it well, but there’s not emotional component to it other than the basic message. Compare this ad to the Chrysler ad or the VW ad, which one moves you more?

Still, it’s good to see brands going after each other at the Super Bowl, gets me excited for 2012.

Super Bowl ads remind me of big Hollywood blockbusters, full of sound and fury but ultimately as forgettable as Transformers or X-Men. The best blockbusters, like the best ads are the ones that focus the sound and fury in service of an emotion and a message. The best way to do that is to tell a story. The best ad this year was probably the least expensive to shoot, the same thing was true of my favorite ad from last year.  You can be simple and powerful if you focus on story and emotion instead of spectacle and being clever.

A day late and a dollar short

February 16, 2010

Super Bowl ads are usually high in entertainment and gimmicks, but low in effectiveness and message.  In other words they make me laugh, but they don’t do much to help me remember the product they’re selling.  Here check out this list of best Super Bowl ads from ad age.  There are a lot of laughs, but how many of those laughs are connected to the brand message?  How many make you want to use the product or even have some relevant link to the product they’re selling?

And there’s this:

It tells a story, it sells a message.  It’s elegant and not overblown — it cuts across expectation for Super Bowl ads, it’s quiet where most are loud, and simple where most are frenetic.

Compare it with this ad for Microsoft Bing (not a Super Bowl ad):

What is search overload?  What is a decision engine?  What does it have to do with folks riffing stream of consciousness? What does it have to do with Bing?

Now Google needs no introduction to most internet folks, but still this ad is about brand storytelling.  It cements the idea of Google as a part of our lives, even as our lives change, and we remember it because it tells the oldest story of all: Boy meets Girl.

On Hooks and MacGuffins

February 8, 2010

Sometimes the commercial is the thing, and sometimes it’s just a hook — something to get your attention, get you interested.  It’s different from just spitting on the table in that there’s usually more behind it then attention, that is, the hook is just the beginning, you’re trying to get attention to eventually drive that motivation to someplace.

There was a lot of controversy over this commercial and CBS’s decision to run it, after rejecting other political messages. All that attention just played into Focus for the Family’s hands, they used Tim Tebow and the Super Bowl as a hook.  Had this ad run almost any other time it would have gotten some notice, but would be deemed innocuous enough.

The ad is pretty simple, with Tebow’s mother telling a story, how Tim was her “miracle baby” and she still worries about him.  The tackle part is down right stupid, it just doesn’t work — it’s the wrong tone for this spot, and feels more like it belonged in a beer commercial or a snickers commercial (which I guess is genre appropriate for most Super Bowl ads).

There no mention of choice or abortion, though all the earned (free) media filled in the details of her story for Focus on the Family.  That’s the genius of this Focus’ plan, the attention they got drove the story, at the end of the day, the ad was just a MacGuffen.

This ad served its purpose, but ultimately the ad itself wasn’t very important, but it worked anyway.


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