Commentary

Breaking News: Game Better Than Super Bowl Spots

In this 30th year of watching the Super Bowl with as much of a professional interest in sales pitches as I have a personal interest in forward passes, all I can say is that I hope the New York Giants keep making it to the game. There may have been a chuckle here and a mild guffaw there (a sensuously naked M&M of either sex will do that to me every time), but the spots collectively left me, and most game-day critics, wondering what all the advance hoopla was about.

Many advertisers took a cue from Chrysler’s buzz-garnering leak of its Eminem spot last year and took the wraps off their spots early, as Yahoo Finance’s Morgan Korn reports. Now we’ve even got stories rating which Super Bowl spots garnered the most attention before they actually aired. Alas, it was all much ado about mediocrity.

If you believe that fiery halftime talk actually wins ballgames, you might have loved Clint Eastwood’s impassioned “we’re gonna kick butt again” on behalf of Chrysler. "This country can't be knocked out with one punch; we get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines," he intones.

Betty White’s a hoot, but the ditzy-grey hair joke is running a bit thin, don’t you think? As for Coke’s polar bears, exactly what button is that pushing? Nostalgia for commercials that, in their day, were a little bit different? And why do folks like Pepsi keep rousing the likes of Elton John and Flavor Flav? And what century was it again when Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno (for the forthcoming Acura NSX sports car) were hot? Probably the same one that Madonna was the Lady Gaga of her day and during which Ferris Bueller took a day off. That’s not to say that all of these folks don’t have fuel left in the tank; just that I constantly found myself longing for the nail-biter of a game to resume.

“Enough was too much,” Stuart Elliott concludes in the New York Times. “Too many commercials fell back on tactics that were too familiar from a plethora of Super Bowl spots: anthropomorphic animals, second-class celebrities, slapstick violence and riding the coattails of popular culture. Risk-taking, rule-breaking ideas were as hard to find among the more than 50 commercials as good taste in a GoDaddy ad.”

USA Today, the official keeper of the Ad Meter, reports that last night’s commercials “went to the dogs,” but it means that in a good way.The top three finishers in its poll of consumers, as of this morning, were Doritos (dog bribes cat owner); Volkswagen (dog gets fit) and Skechers (dog in sneakers wins race).

That No. 1 spot, by the way, was consumer-generated and initially done on a $20 budget. Jonathan Friedman, a freelance graphic designer and musician, won $1 million when his idea garnered the most votes in Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, Bruce Horovitz reports. Friedman personally owns a Chihuahua named Philippe; the Great Dane featured in his spot, Huff, was borrowed from a friend.

“The whole creative idea came to Friedman while he was lying in bed, and he thought it would be humorous if the animal-human roles were reversed,” Horovitz reports. “The dog was untrained, and it took a few attempts to get him to dig in the dirt. At first, Friedman buried dog biscuits, but when that didn't work, he had to pour chicken soup on the ground in order to get Huff digging.”

Remember the days when the best ads came from a room full of highly paid creatives engaged in “brainstorming sessions,” à la BBDO’s Alex Osborn? Probably not; even I don’t.

The Wall Street Journal’s Susanne Vranica, who also polled advertising executives about their favorite spots, reports that, after 36,000 votes cast in its poll, the public has anointed the Seinfeld/Leno spot for Acura as the best on the lot. One viewer praised as “funny” a General Motors spot showing its Silverado pick-up surviving the apocalypse while a Ford truck did not. Ford complained, Vranica reports, but GM refused to yank the spot.

Meanwhile, Eastwood’s two-minute homage to American grit particularly pleased Landor New York managing director Allen Adamson. “Powerful and one of the best Super Bowl ads ever," he says.

For the record, Dannon’s spot for Oikos Greek with actor John Stamos was No. 1 for “largest Impact Media Value percentage increase over the last two weeks,” according to General Sentiment, which tracked Twitter feeds, according to Reuters. It was reportedly up 1,170.4%. Overall, Samsung’s Galaxy Note had the “greatest impact Media Value gains by pure dollars per day” -- $18,654,398. JetBlue shared the largest amount of Twitter followers with the NFL and its teams (330,794).

The most sexist ad, by informal consent, seems to be a Teleflora spot starring model Adriana Lima “promising men in a sultry voice that if they give Valentine's Day flowers they will receive,” as Vranica writes. But that’s probably because the perennial GoDaddy spots are just so annoyingly predictably annoying at this point.

Ad Age’s gallery of spots can be viewed here. All in all: Bah, humbug. Go, Giants!

1 comment about "Breaking News: Game Better Than Super Bowl Spots".
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  1. Ronald Stack from Zavee LLC, February 9, 2012 at 10:21 a.m.

    Great game, disappointing group of spots. FWIW, I saw the Teleflora spot as groan-inducingly trite, not sexist. I admit I liked the Fiat Abarth spot, as trite as *that* was (but I'm lusting for that car, too). Here is my take:

    http://zavee.com/blogs/zaveethinking/2012/02/08/what-super-bowl-ads/

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