Puppies and Clydesdales Rule! Bud Wins the Pre-Super Bowl Ad Derby, and So What?

So here we are, just a few long hours before the Super Bowl, and from what it looks like no snow squalls, no frostbite. Nothing but traffic jams and manufactured excitement from here on in.

This year, Visible Measures says in a blog post, 30 brands have released more than 40 campaigns of pre-game content online. I find it all so…resistible. For several years now, Super Bowl ads have been less about advertising than they’ve been about a kind of advertising that is …Super Bowl advertising, where everything is kind of unreal.

It’s a little like watching Rose Bowl floats, mainly interesting because you can sense how difficult and expensive they were to make and how forgettable almost all of them are, and you think -- how can you not? -- what a waste of real effort, and real flowers.

Those ads which are novel and cool are shoved down our throats, with the teaser ads before and then after, too. And then, poof.

I keep remembering that Unruly Media, which is the big counter of advertising shares and quite expert at massaging the data to determine how virality happens, has pointed out that merely funny will get you nowhere in Super Bowl Advertising’s Hall of Fame, or anywhere else in Viralville. “Humor is very subjective and brands need to beextremely funny to impress consumers worn down by a glut of ads which try to be funny (and usually are not),” wrote David Waterhouse on an Unruly blog a few months ago.

So you put a bunch of almost-funny ads together (the Super Bowl) and that results in the sourness-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feel of Open Mike night at your local comedy club.  

And because few of the ads are hilarious, that means an advertiser’s $4 million contribution to Fox bought them the equivalent clout of some Morning Zoo team in New York, who in my experience are even less funny than up-and-coming Zooers in smaller towns.

By Visual Measures’ tallying, the biggest pre-Super Bowl advertiser is Budweiser. It’s not funny. Its adorable “Puppy Love” grabbed 23.4 million views since being released, just on Wednesday. In the last 24 hours, its views have grown by 11 million. Wow. I suppose this proves it’s a great commercial, and more dumb-like, confirms what everybody knew since our first media internship. Puppies sell! At the graduate level, we also learned, puppies and Clydesdale horses together are unstoppable.

On the Visible Measures chart, you also have Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl 2014,” which is part of an annual contest to “salute” (much saluting at the Super Bowl) user-generated content, and right up there, at 6th place is Audi’s “Doberhuahua,” which is a mean dog ad for a car. It has seven million views.

There is more to forward to, if you haven’t already seen it online, and you certainly have had your chances. Competing Greek yogurt brands each produced lousy ads! That sort of thing you can now know in advance. The teasers and pre-released ads, the Christian Science Monitor says, are “a big nod to the fact that ‘prime-time’ has ceded some of its caché to a digital world of shares, hashtags, and watch-anytime viewing."

But mainly, I think, it’s a big nod to the idea that these ads cost $4 million per .30 and there’s another place to play them, for free. It's kind of like eating the leftovers before you've been served the meal.

Let the game begin. Let the game end.


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