Breaking news: The world didn’t come to an end in 2012. Then I watched this year’s Super Bowl ads and became convinced that creativity is holed up somewhere in an underground shelter, waiting out doomsday.
Seriously, when a power outage midway through the game constitutes excitement, then you know things are bad.
There were the 99% of brands with underwhelming ads and the 1% that truly scored. Let’s begin with the good.
Ram Trucks: When I saw this two-minute ad by The Richards Group, I thought, finally! An ad I will watch and rewatch on Monday. Using Paul Harvey’s story, “So God made a farmer,” viewers are transported to a place where the 40-hour workweek is completed by Tuesday, where jobs must be done regardless of physical pain, and sleep comes when you can grab it. A series of black-and-white and color shots of farmers young and old show the fine line a farmer walks: strong enough to plow fields and milk cows, and sensitive enough to mourn the passing of a newborn colt. “To the farmer in all of us,” closes the ad.
Audi: I loved “Prom” the moment I watched it and after seeing this year’s crop of crap, it remains one of my favorites. A kid goes to his prom without a date but stones of steel when his dad lets him borrow the Audi. He kisses the prom queen, gets a black eye from the prom king, and drives off happy.
Tide: “Miracle Stain” was an unexpected gem of the night for me. This ad resonates with any sports fan obsessed with rituals and otherworldly signs, like the Montana stain. A clumsy 49ers fan drops salsa on his jersey in the shape of Joe Montana. Fans from around the world flock to see the miracle stain in person. The jersey’s owner capitalizes on this by raking in as much money as he can, selling tickets for admission, T-shirts and stains on a stick. The spot ends with the man’s wife washing his jersey because she is a Ravens fan.
Budweiser: It took me less than 60 seconds to actually shed a tear at “Brotherhood.” Was it the touching story of a man, his Clydesdale, and a bond that cannot be broken, even when the two are separated by time? Or was it listening to Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide” play throughout? The combination was powerful and poignant, creating exactly what I expect from Budweiser: emotion.
Samsung: I enjoyed Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen poking fun at the creative process, the world of celebrity endorsements and pitching ad ideas by using popular industry buzzwords. It probably would have been just as funny if it were half the length.
Coca-Cola: Not the ad with the showgirls, but this recycled ad that’s been running in Latin America since last June. It shows security footage of random acts of love, friendship and heroism, rather than violence.
Now for the bad.
Oreo: I love Oreos, but this quiet riot ad over the cookie or cream part of the Oreo fell flat.
Budweiser: You win some, you lose some. I love wearing black, just like Liza Minelli or any other person might, but what was the point of these BudweiserBlack Crown ads with everyone decked in all black? Was it to match the beer bottles? That’s extreme fashion.
E*Trade: The baby is losing his mojo. It’s time for a revamp.
Cars.com: The “Hungry Like The Wolf” ad brought the drama back to buying a car by having the car buyer hold a baby wolf just as the wolf’s protective mother turns a corner.
Wonderful Pistachios: I got my Psy flu shot, so I was unaffected by this ad starring the Asian rapper dancing Gangnam Style with a bunch of nuts.
Random oddity: Did you notice that Hyundai tweaked the ending of its “Team” ad? The ad that broke on YouTube showed the bully asking whether the opposing team wanted to play touch or tackle football. The underdogs chose tackle. The in-game spot showed the bully hurled to the ground by a kicked football. I preferred the first ending better. How about you?