Gaaa! Super Bowl week! Must watch online-only preview alterna-tease unrated extended surrogate outtake versions of Super Bowl ads! Must! Watch! No time to dilly-dally with column lede about personal idiocy that vaguely relates to subject of column! No! Time!
Pre-trend one: The Super Bowl is an ideal venue for brands attempting to jump up a weight class or two.Kia’s Super Bowl contribution to the marketing canon features, in no particular order, Laurence Fishburne clad like his character in The Matrix; Fishburne riffing on the film’s signature meaningless Zen mumbo-jumbo; a pitch pipe; a lip-synched aria; flying cars; explosions; and a desperation pitch for viewers to re-perceive Kia as luxury brand. It’s a throw-everything-at-the-wall approach and feels dated pop-culturally, but give Kia some props for attempting to execute a brand rethinkification, the marketing equivalent of a triple axel, on the biggest stage.
Come Monday morning, people who don’t read auto magazines will know that Kia manufactures something other than attractively priced dullmobiles. That in itself justifies the investment, however overly self-impressed the execution.
Pre-trend two: Brands that present a classed-up version of their usual selves in a Super Bowl ad only invite comparisons to their existing brand image. I don’t use Axe personal-care products, because I don’t enjoy chemical burns and prefer, whenever possible, not to set off the carbon monoxide detectors in my immediate vicinity. I’ve nonetheless always been a fan of their marketing, which is so merrily, obnoxiously over-the-top as to reveal an unusual degree of self-awareness. Axe knows what it is (a low-market brand for young dudes) and what its audience wants (boobs). There’s some small virtue in that.
But judging by a clip that went live on the web last week and will apparently be used in some form during the game, Axe has evolved its attitude towards romantic attachment. The clip for Axe Peace features despots, dictators and warmongers getting all huggy with their special someones. If it didn’t look so expensive - military choppers, while reliably awesome, ain’t cheap - I’d assume it was a parody. Somebody tell the Axe folks to cut back on the foreign films; there’s bound to be a Porky’s reboot before too long.
Pre-trend three: An incongruous pairing of product and song will draw attention to itself and away from whatever it is we’re supposed to buy. Watch this clip and tell me what sticks with you after you’re done. For me, it’s one, the bear; two, the Bob Dylan song; three, why is Bob Dylan selling his songs for commercials again?; four, Bob Dylan can’t possibly have blown his fortune to the extent that he needs to license “I Want You” to some company whose name I can’t remember, owing to the bear and the Bob Dylan song that were overengaging me during the clip, can he?; and five, if Bob Dylan is somehow broke, let’s do a Kickstarter so that he’ll never lack for guitar strings and bolo ties. We owe him that much.
Pre-trend four: It is possible to re-purpose, re-imagine or
Pre-trend five: My favorite Super Bowl ads are the ones that highlight the absurdity of Super Bowl ads.Newcastle’s spot with Anna Kendrick won’t air during the game, nor was it ever intended to. But the two-minute monologue, in which Kendrick slyly deconstructs the commercial that wasn’t, does a better job puncturing the notion of a game-changing clip-a-roni than the 3,200 day-after ad postmortems will.
Noting that she hasn’t been paid gobs
of money to shill for a beer she doesn’t drink (“I was really looking forward to the paycheck. So, I’m like back to doing indie-cred stuff, which is great, but you can’t stuff
indie cred down a male stripper’s g-string, you know what I’m saying?”), Kendrick reinforces Newcastle’s no-B.S. brand image even as she refers to the company as a bunch of
b****es. The clip also takes a welcome swipe at beer marketing in general (“I don’t think of myself as beer-commercial-babe-hot. I mean, I’m hot - but, like, approachable hot, like
You know what’s hot? Confidence. With this clip, Newcastle shows that it has it in spades.
Pre-conclusions: First, I thank every marketer who has put his/her/its Super Bowl spot online ahead of time so that I can use the commercial breaks to stuff myself stupid with mini-weenies and pie. Second, Broncos 27, Seahawks 19. Third, the faux Red Hot Chili Peppers site/song is the work of an amazingly talented parodist and the most skillfully rendered morsel of content you’ll encounter this week, online or off.
Several of you have inquired about the status of the attic raccoon I referenced in a column a few weeks back, so I’ve provided an update on my dormant web site. Short version for those who don’t want to click: I am a murderer of innocent creature(s).