The ante started at $2.4 million and went up to a cool $3 million to air a spot in this year’s “big game”, which is code for Super Bowl, a trademarked name. I can use the term since I’m paying $126,500 in licensing fees and have a team of Lint lawyers at the ready.
Giving Super Bowl spots a look-see with virgin eyes. Yipes!
I’ve shielded myself from the annual hype about Super Bowl commercials to keep virgin eyes and a clean slate for my opinions. The criteria of my grading is this: is the spot entertaining, relevant to the product or service, informative, interesting, memorable and the holy grail of all– persuasive
? A tall order, I know, but for a $2.4-3 mil investment plus production costs, ad agency fees, etc., it seems like appropriate ground rules.
Am I being too rough to expect more than just entertainment? No, this is supposed to be marketing, right? If you’d like to re-watch any of the spots, the good people of Ad Age have most of them posted here.
I apologize in advance for any errors. These are gut reactions after one viewing, so there.
Hyundai Sonata– Nothing breakthrough here: pretty car shots, The Dude’s voiceover extolling the Sonata’s virtues and car reviews, lots of features, great gas mileage and an attractive price. Simple, well-produced, product-focused and great eye candy. I like, but then again, we’re now a two Hyundai family (attribute it to the smart advertising, a great website, terrific products and rave reviews had something to do with it).
Bud Light– The first shot from the deep A-B coffers is a blank. Some people enter a house made of Bud Light cans. The people think the cans are empty, but wah wah wahhh– they’re not, they’re full! Now the fun begins. Blah blah. There’s an end gag with a shower curtain being pulled back as a naked woman screams. Huh? It’s going to be a long night…
Snickers– Young dudes are playing football with Betty White (yes, Betty White). They tell “Mike” he’s playing like “Betty White”… she eats a Snickers, and is suddenly transformed from Betty into a young man. AVO tells us “When you’re hungry, you’re not yourself.” End gag with guy tackling Abe Vigoda (yes, Fish Vigoda). It’s a smart strategy, and breakthrough creative execution. Not in the same league as previous Snickers work, but that was some of the best.
Focus on The Family– The controversy was bigger than this commercial. Mom Pam Tebow talks about her baby and how she almost lost him. Suddenly, son Tim Tebow tackles her. Yes, the brat tackles his mother. This is the thanks she gets?! Look, religion and politics consume all other aspects of the airwaves, the Super Bowl should offer some relief. Hey, this is about talking babies and cute animals and stuff! Now, can we get on with our lives?
Hyundai Sonata– Beautiful cinematography of a factory making a Hyundai Sonata. The Dude tells us about famous classical sonatas and compares this to the new Sonata. A long way to go, then we learn the Sonata has a better paint job than a Mercedes. Hmmm. Pretty spot, point made, but it feels cheap.
BoostMobile– A hateful spot playing off the old Chicago Bears shuffle. Mike Ditka, etc. Why and for what, God only knows. Have no idea what this product does, nor do I care. Let us never speak of this again. Please.
Doritos– The master wants his dog to speak for Doritos, the dog doesn’t, instead he sneaks behind man and puts collar on him! Oh boy!!! Then, get this, the dog takes the bag of Doritos and shocks the man! Ain’t we got fun? Oh, I feel shame for all ad people.
Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (with Russell Crowe). Looks like what you’d expect. Get your tights out of the mothballs. (Insert your mothball-tights joke here.)
Doritos– A guy goes to his girl’s house. She goes to get ready. Her son is there with a bowl of Doritos. The man reaches for one, takes it and little boy slaps him on face. Tells man to keep his hands off his mom and his Doritos. There you have it. Check, please. This is not a great moment in advertising history.
Bud Light– Get a load of this: a meteor is coming to destroy Earth so all the scientists and astronomers begin celebrating impending death with Bud Light. The end gag– meteor is just a pebble that bounces off telescope. Cue the trombones, wah wah wahhhhhh wahh! Sigh, where’s the Most Interesting Man in The World when you need him?
Coca-Cola– The big gun goes celebrity with all of The Simpsons Springfield as C. Montgomery Burns is broke, we see his life being turned to crap. Some decent sight gags but nothing as witty as classic Simpsons. At the end, Burnsie gets a Coke. A lot of celebrity power here, but not nearly as powerful or charming as the parade character balloons spot from a couple years back.
GoDaddy.com– The ‘GoDaddy girl (Danica Patrick) is getting a massage. Her masseuse recognizes her, wants to be like her and asks if she can be a ‘GoDaddy Girl’… then masseuse rips her shirt off of herself to reveal a T with web address. We’re directed to go check out more. Welcome to soft porn. Heavy sigh.
Doritos– We’re in a church at a funeral but the guys in the pews are snickering because they’re buddy’s in casket-full of Doritos watching the game. Cut to man in coffin with lots of Doritos and a small TV. Oh, why bother describing what happens after this… it’s a hateful spot. Death and Doritos, we’ve come to this. Sob.
Bud Light– Dude has party voice and Bud Light. All pals have party voices and Bud Lights. No reason to go into it any further. Another bad Bud Light spot.
Monster– A beaver plays a fiddle. Yada yada yada. A voiceover says something. Yawn. Was there a woodchuck gag in there? Who cares? Anyone remember when Monster did cool ads? I do. Sad. Maybe they need some fresh talent. Hey, look on Monster!
The Wolfman– Looks good. Dark, moody, spooky. Deal me in.
Bridgestone– a killer whale is in a car with some guys. They’re splashing it with water. They take the whale to the sea and it dives in. The driver says, “Now that was a bachelor’s party”… looks like someone in the creative department saw The Hangover last year.
cars.com– Timothy has an amazing life delivering tiger cubs, saving high school students from a twister, oh, but he doesn’t know doodly-squat about cars. Fortunately there’s cars.com. to make car buying easy. A long way to go but a message is sent. Is there reception? We’ll see.
Budweiser– Man enters diner and announces the bridge is out. No one cares until he says there’s a Bud delivery truck on the other side. Suddenly, the townsfolk run to help. They form a bridge, truck drives over. Party in diner. End gag, drivers say they need the bridge to get back across. Please, people, if you must drink, don’t form bridges.
Shutter Island– Scorcese, Leo, insane asylum, mystery. You had me at Scorcese.
The Late Show With David Letterman– Letterman eats a chip and complains about the boring Super Bowl part. Camera widens out, we see Oprah who tells Dave it’s not that bad. Camera widens out more and we see Leno on the other side of Oprah. If Oprah can bring those two together, let’s get her on a plane to the Middle East. Nice spot.
CareerBuilder.com— It’s a guy talking about his problem with the office and casual Fridays. We see his coworkers in underwear (they are pudgy, not model types). Where are we going with this? To Punville! The AVO tells us to “expose yourself” to new job opportunities with careerbuilder.com. I feel like I should earn frequent flier miles for following this.
Dockers– A bunch of men wear no pants and march across a field chanting “We wear no pants…” (Did they know the previous spot had no pants for a gag?) All of this is to get you to go to a website for some free pants. Hmm, FREE– that should sell some pants…
Hyundai Sonata– This spot makes a point of the product’s long warranty by showing Brett Favre in 2020 getting the MVP award. The Dude’s voiceover says, “We don’t know what the future will be like, but we know the Sonata will still be covered.” Clever, simple, powerful sales point. Put more points on the board for Hyundai.
Bud Light– Here’s a spoof of the TV show Lost. The surviving passengers are on the beach, a woman approaches and announces she has a way to be rescued off the island, but wait, some guy has found the beverage cart and it’s fully stocked with Bud Light (hmm, maybe they could build a house with all the cans). Party ensues and they use radio to get party music. Umm, that’s some powerful party beer, that Bud Light. The best BL spot of the night, but that’s damning with faint praise. Still, I’ll bet this scores big with the USA Today poll. It’s got the proper balance of pop culture heat.
Dove for Men– It’s all about some man’s life. We see him born, he ages, he marries, has kids, etc., etc., etc. Then somehow this wraps into him in the shower and copy about new Dove for Men and the clever slogan be comfortable in your own skin. Why? Don’t ask– because Dove says so, that’s why!
Dodge Charger– We see a series of close-ups of men as they say “I will” and run-off a litany of emasculating things they ‘will do’ for their women. All of this is to set up that because they do all this p-whipped stuff they ‘will drive what they want”– and that’s a Dodge Charger. Vrrroooom! There, there, of course you will, fellas. Just ask your lady for the keys. The car looks much stronger than the beaten-down men.
teleflora.com– A hot girl is berating a less attractive worker. Hot girl gets a box of flowers. She opens it and a talking flower starts berating her. A guy coworker asks, “Who sends flowers in a box? A guy in prison?” The AVO tells us use teleflora and get flowers in a vase. Stupid. Kindly put this spot in its grave and send it a box of flowers.
Papa John’s– Look, it was a Papa John’s spot. Do you really have to wonder if it was any good?
Alice in Wonderland– Disney gets hip, hires Tim Burton who hires Johnny Depp. This movie looks very cool and visually stunning. What would Walt think? I like.
Dr. Pepper– The rock band KISS pimps Cherry Dr. Pepper. Oh, I can’t even describe it any more. Slap everyone involved with this mess (you might want to wash your hands after you slap the members of KISS, greasepaint stains). By the way, what is with Dr. Pepper? Why can’t they ever do a decent spot?
TruTV– We’re in Punxsutawney for a groundhog day set up as the mayor pulls a miniature Troy Polamalu out of a hole and announces “Six more weeks of football.” Long way to go for a copy point, but point made, you can catch six more weeks of football. Put points on the board.
Universal Orlando– Harry Potter world comes to Orlando. Is there ever any reality in Orlando? Oh well, if our kids were still that age, we’d be there.
FLOTV– We see a guy shopping with his girl as a narrator tells us the man’s girlfriend has removed the boyfriend’s spine and so he can’t see the game. But lookee here now, with new FLOTV he could see it. The device looks like a little iPhone screen. Are all men in commercials whipped? The device does look interesting, I’ll give them that.
Intel– An engineer talks about new processors being “the greatest thing we’ve ever done” as we see a little robot approach with a tray of food. The little robot is sad as he hears the guy talk about how great this new processor is. I get a Wall-E vibe from the robot. The point is this new chip is hot stuff. Not bad, I guess.
IT’S HALFTIME– LET’S HOPE PETE TOWNSEND DOESN’T EXPOSE A ROGER DALTRY NIPPLE IN A WARDROBE MISHAP.
There's still many more spots to see.
“Hope I die before I get old…” P. Townsend, age 97.
FLOTV– The Who’s “My Generation” plays as we see news clips of our lives. Swatches of history are laid out in a mosaic that frankly is astounding to see back-to-back. Jerry was right– what a long, strange trip it’s been. The message is simple: never miss a moment. You don’t have to, babe, not if you’ve got a FLOTV. Oh, did I mention Will.i.am is in this spot– not sure why, but there you go. Nice spot, I toss a flag for flagrant use of celebrity when they didn’t have to, but one of the smartest spots so far. Does not feel like it fits well with the previous p-whipped guy shopping spot, but there you go. A campaign for these A.D.D. times.
NFL Network– Cool spot. Beautiful cinematography, all hail football– it gives us something to put commercials into.
Prince of Persia– Looks like The Mummy XXIII , lots of special effects and action. Think I’ll wait for the DVD.
Motorola– Megan Fox is in a bath and takes a picture of herself and wonders what would happen if she sent it out. Then we see phone lines explode, a mother knocking on door of her son;s room wanting to know what he’s doing in there (oh, mom!), a gay couple slapping each other and so on. Then Megan says never mind, she won’t send the picture after all and I wonder why they bothered making this commercial. Phones that take pictures, what black magic is this?
Volkswagen– We see various VW cars drive by and people punch one another. A play off the old punch-bug game called punch-dub. Feels forced, but at least there is a heritage to build on. Makes me think more of the Beetle than any of their new products, though.
Denny’s– A man talks to chickens and warns them that soon Denny’s will be offering a free grand slam breakfast. The chickens are worried, concerned. The man says this is great news for people but bad news for chickens (because they’re going to be working overtime). Not a great spot but a great message– FREE FOOD! What’s not to like?
Michelob Ultra– Lance Armstrong and other super healthy people run and ride and push themselves to the limit then chill at the bar with this beer-like substance. Me no like. Me like fat people beer. Burp.
HomeAway.com– The Griswalds (Chevy & Beverly) are getting constant disappointments at their hotel. They’re billed for the ‘complimentary water’… the desk clerk explains that it is “complimentery with an ‘e’ water– the water compliments the room decor.” Good joke. The whole point is that HomeAway.com can save you money when you hit the road. Sounds interesting. Not sure I needed Chevy & Bev, would have been good without them, but I guess new companies need a little fame to rub against.
Bridgestone– Dastardly evilniks have a roadblock set-up for the James Bond guy who drives up in a sportscar this rainy night. They tell him “Your Bridgestones or your life!” He skids to a stop, hot woman gets out…. wait for it… bad guy says, “I said your money or your life, not your wife!” (Hear the rimshot?) You’d think bad people could afford to just buy a set of Bridgestones, but apparently not.
kgb– A stupid spot for a service started by the Russian secret police about finding the answers to questions by texting. Uses sumo wrestlers. Has there ever been a good spot done with sumo wrestlers? Not that I recall.
Coca-Cola– A beautiful shot spot where a man sleepwalks in Africa past many jungle dangers for a Coke. He ends up going to a fridge and opens it, grabs a Coke (no, there are no Bud Lights in there). He walks back, drinks Coke and pets a big cat, all while still asleep. A nice spot. Surprising, entertaining, likable, nice.
E-TRADE– Oh, those talking babies. Baby boy calls baby girl on computer cam. Little girl asks him if he’s seeing another little girl she calls a ‘milk-a-holic’. Other little girl enters frame and asks, “Milk-a-what?” I smell catch phrase. This will be a buzz-worthy spot. The babies will become more famous. Does that translate to e-Trade business? It must, they’ve been doing this campaign for a long while.
U.S. Census Bureau– The Christopher Guest company of egotist filmmakers are going to make a film called Snapshot of America… but what do you know, that’s what the U.S. Census is all about. A goofy idea. I love the characters but the idea is weak as a drunk’s knees. Why is this supposed to make us feel good about being counted?
Google– Ironic. So far the commercials have been big on special effects, celebrities, famous music, sophomoric gags and sexy women. Now here comes a spot that has none of those. It’s a lock-off shot of a computer screen that shows someone Google-ing. And it is so true to Google, showing how one thing leads to another to another to another and another more. And the story just builds from hunting for a job to Paris to a church to marriage to a crib. It’s an amazing journey told on Google. It wraps up with the simple line: Search on. What a perfect idea. Smart, relevant, interesting and compelling. It’s the anti-Bing. This is the best spot in the Super Bowl, so far.
KIA Sorento– Sock Monkey and other toy pals are getting their groove on in a KIA and end up ripping it up in Vegas, cut to see the toys not as characters but as toys in the back seat of the vehicle as a kid gets in. Car starts and goes down road. A lot of razzle and dazzle for not a lot of purpose or reason. It’s about the vehicle, stupid! (But it’s always good to see sock monkey– wonder what he was like to work with…)
RoundUp– It kill weeds. Got weeds? You might consider buying some. This may be the best weed killer spot in the Super Bowl.
Select 55– A light commercial for a new light beer. Bottle floats in air, Don’t let me down plays. O.K., thank you.
NFL– Incredible cinematography of players and fans as music builds and the league says “Thank you”. Nice, simple. Well done, start the wave.
VIZIO– Giant claws grab the best of internet sites and and entertainment properties, they all are assembled in the new VIZIO. The message is the best of the internet and entertainment are now in the VIZIO. O.K., now can I have my TV back?
Emerald Nuts/Pop Secret– A gonzo trip with a guy feeding jumping people at a water show Emerald nuts and Pop Secret popcorn. Goofy, and not in a good way.
Dante’s Inferno– A guy battles all sorts of demons. Stunning visuals, action as Bill Withers sings “Ain’t No Sunshine”. This is for a new video game where you battle the forces of hell. Looks like sales heaven. Great spot for the product. Just show how cool it is and get out of the way.
Budweiser–The big storyteller spot. A longhorn calf looks on as the Clydesdales go by. Title tells us it’s three years later. Now we see a large longhorn look on as the Clydesdales come down the road. The longhorn charges through the fence and joins the beer horsies. Two guys are standing by. One says, “Nothing comes between friends.” The other says, “Especially fences.” Oh, does this thing ever feel forced. Where’s the charm? It may be time to take the Clydesdales to the glue factory, or at least find a fresh story line for them.
Honda Accord Crosstour– Cool animation of a squirrel putting away nuts and such and ends up in the vehicle that has a place for everything. Animation is killer, car looks nice. Good stuff, stands out.
Denny’s– Chickens across America do various things as “the Battle Hymn of The Republic” plays. The wrap up is that Denny’s is giving away free Grand Slams on Tuesday. It’s going to take a lot of eggs. Yeah, I’m thinking Denny’s will be pretty packed on Tuesday. As for Wednesday and beyond…
Audi– A terrific spot. We see people getting busted for violations of not being eco-friendly. Cheap Trick’s song “The Dream Police” is changed to “The Green Police”– could have done without this– and it’s visually surprising and entertaining. We see a roadblock where the Green Police give the go-ahead to the new Audi because it is eco-love. Elaborate spot for a simple premise. Audi is awfully green. Well done.
Taco Bell– Charkes Barkley walks through scenes carrying Taco Bell crap. He recites Dr. Seuss-like poetic copy. Had enough yet? I have.
Doritos– Guys at a club enjoy a bag of Doritos that one dude got from “Tim’s locker”– the other dude says this is bad. Why? Because Tim is a Doritos freak. Cut to man in an outfit made of Doritos swinging a weapon and he leaps and attacks. Cut to logo. These spots are as artificial as reading the ingredient list on a bag of Doritos.
Bud Light– Wow, it’s girl’s book club, and the ladies have a bucket of Bud Lights. Guy comes in, and get this, he wants to talk about chick books! What ensues is a certified LAFF RIOT. Oh, sarcasm, why do you feel so right?
Hyundai– The plant in Alabama makes the Sonata as we see a bunch of hands carrying the car through the various production stages. There are no machines, just hands. The car goes through the stages of assembly, finish. The simple point is this: with so many quality inspections, it’s like the Sonata is hand-made. Nice. I think Hyundai will be selling a lot of Sonatas. .
E-TRADE– Another baby spot. Missed most of it. Was it any good?
Sketchers– This stands out for it’s crappy production values and lack of any real concept. But, it does stand out, I give it that.
GoDaddy.com– Danica Patrick is being interviewed by two women about the controversy of her being the hot new GoDaddy girl and they’d like to know if they could be part of the hotness… blah blah, they rip their shirts off to show T-shirts directing people to the site. Please go, GoDaddy, go now.
Denny’s– A woman gets ready to blow out candles on her birthday cake and a chicken rises and screams. The message: get a Free Grand Slam on your birthday! Denny’s is cornering the market on free breakfast! IHOP, whatcha gonna do now to rival free food?
E-TRADE– Now the talking babies are on a plane. They’re talking about something or other but all I hear are babies… babies on a plane (where’s Samuel L. Jackson when you need him)! They over-power whatever the message is. No wonder W.C. Fields hated working with babies.
Chevrolet– We own the company now and our ads are telling us our cars are winning consumer awards. We like us! Although it’s not a stand-out spot, it is a smart message. Let people know other people like the cars.
Chunky Soups– Here’s the message: go on line for a $5 coupon. ‘Nuff said. Cheaper soup. That should sell.
Pace Picante Sauce– Got me what this is about. A woman watches TV and cooks with Pace. Maybe I can’t pay attention any more. Has my brain turned to mush already?
FLOTV– Lots of sports celebs tell us we can get FLOTV in our car. Thanks, technology. The branding on this campaign is all over the place. The unifying campaign epoxy seems to be the logo. Hmmm, that’s pretty lame.
Intel– We see a couple geeks as they age. In the stages of their development they witness new stages of technology. The wrap-up is the new Intel processor. Simple. I always liked the group of engineers singing the obnoxious Intel notes at the end of the spot.
Sun Life– The company wants to be better known so they want to use Cirque du Soleil because it’s name has to do with sun. Oh, brother, I think my mind is now officially toast, which should go with the mush it turned into recently. Regardless, this commercial is crap.
WalMart– A hubby is busted buying his wife Valentine’s Day gifts. There. Not bad, simple message. WalMart’s got lots of Valentine’s stuff, so there!
Hyundai– The Dude asks “What if we made luxury available for everybody?” Fun visuals of everyday people and situations with super luxury touches. It’s surprising and fun to watch. The point is the Genesis makes luxury affordable to everybody. Very well done.
The Crazies– This new movie looks like a hoot. Hey, you had me at “The.”
Final observations. A lackluster year for spots. Standouts spots are Google and Hyundai.
I am left to wonder why all guys in commercials are neutered idiots, and why exactly are we so obsessed with celebrities, famous songs and talking babies and animals?
Oh, one last note– The Saints won.
That’s the 2010 Super Bowl commercial wrap-up, feel free to dispute, agree and add your perspective. Lint welcomes all, all welcome Lint! Thanks.