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.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.