Feb 3 – Super Bowl Sunday

3 Feb

Today is a football extravaganza. While it may not be an official holiday, it’s much less morbid than the actual holiday, which is The Day The Music Died when a plane crashed in the 60s killing 3 rock and roll legends. The song American Pie is actually inspired by the incident.

But this project is really about being positive so I rather not celebrate a traumatic event. Instead I’ll be critical about things that I actually know about: commercials. For anyone in advertising, the big game is also an ad festival. A chance to see the best the industry has to offer and for many a celebration of some of their peer’s work on a national stage. So here’s my review of my favorite Super Bowl ads.

I’ll start off with car and beer commercials. After all, if there’s two things guys love it’s cars and beer.

Best Car Commercial

This category is tough. Cars are complex so its never an apples to apples comparison. Some sell price. Some sell speed. Some sell out. In my opinion there was a clear winner in this category. In fact, I think this is the best commercial of the whole Super Bowl by far.

The Dodge Ram – “Farmer” Ad

I had an eargasm during this one. As a writer, just listening to that eloquent arrangement of words was powerful in and of itself, but the ingenious use of still images instead of moving video is what gave those words a real chance to shine. There are so many things right about this ad.

The fact that its poetry which is seldom used anymore. The fact that it uses pictures instead of video. The pictures really are more impactful than anything that could have been shot. And the fact that everything in the Super Bowl is hustle and bustle and this just kind of made things stop. It forced you to pay attention. The fact this expensive commercial on a huge stage could have been made by anyone in the world speaks to how a simple idea is all you need. It’s basically a powerpoint slideshow with an audio track. But that’s all it needs. The fact that there’s no special effects. The Super Bowl gives people license to get unnecessarily gimmicky and movie like in their commercials. This one kept it real. The fact that it was twice as long as a usual commercial because it needed that time to give the poetry justice. The fact that it was really moving. Like it really made us want to be more like a farmer. The fact that the car was an afterthought and the commercial was not about selling, but about inspiring is what made this the best commercial.

Honorable Mentions:

The Hyundai Sonata Turbo – “Stuck” Ad

This wasn’t the best commercial, but I really applaud the original spin on selling speed. They could have just showed the car whizzing by but they brought a concept to this. A real human truth that we all think about when we’re behind a questionable car. And the wrap-up line did it for me. It’s just better to be in front. Yes it is. Hyundai also had the other spot for the Santa Fe where a kid assembles a team to play football. Again, not a great commercial but I thought it was a different way to sell space.

The Mercedes Benz  – “Deal With The Devil” Ad

I thought this one was a high concept ad. The need of signing a deal with the devil to afford a Benz being eradicated was a pretty cool way to sell price. The reveal of the price on the billboard at the end of the spot was a nice touch and Willem Dafoe just makes a killer devil. They really should think about using him in a film about that.

Fail:

The VW “Get Happy” Ad

What were they thinking? Driving a V Dub gives you a Jamaican accent? I have to assume some people thought this was racist. I saw they tried to cover their butt by having an actual Jamaican person tell the 49ers to cheer up about the loss because they still have the best bridge, but in a simpler way I have to quote what someone said last night. “They went from the Darth Vader kid to this1?”

The Best Beer Commercial

In my opinion there wasn’t a best beer commercial. They were all pretty weak. Sure it was nice to See Stevie as a voodoo expert, but those commercials just could have been better. It was a smart thing to do though to build on the fact they had been using the song and the superstition concept before so I’ll give them that.  There was the new black crown bud which I think will never catch on and the Clydesdales spot which I don’t count as beer (even though it’s from Budweiser) because it’s more about the horses. And well, that one was a good tearjerker but not about beer. So instead, here’s what I thought was the Worst Beer commercial. A completely irrelevant fish swimming around without water and signing No Diggity. Just awful.

Best Use Of Animal

If you want to make people laugh, bring a weird animal into it right? This Super Bowl was full of them. The Kia “Space Babies” ad managed to squeeze in everything from pigs to pandas. Hyundai has a 10 year old kid wrestling a bear. Skechers showed us the friendship between man and gazelle, but some just stood out from the pack. See what I did there.

First things first, we must settle the best use of wolf debate. What are the odds right?

OR

It really isn’t a debate. Old Spice wins this easily. While Cars.com just pulls the wolf out of nowhere, Old Spice actually has a reason for it. It’s the name of the product. They also just have an edge with working with animals don’t they? And I have to give it to them for the new campaign tagline. Answer The Smell Of The Wild is pretty cool. Lastly, Cars.com. Nobody would ever answer “Yes” to missing drama. We don’t want drama. We just want dialogue.

So back to who wins this category. I’d have to say Doritos. That angry goat just can’t be topped.

Biggest Laugh Out Loud Moment

What’s the one that had beer coming out of our noses? There’s a couple good ones in here but my favorite is Samsung’s. Maybe even more because I’m an ad guy.

Samsung – The Next Big Thing

This is Paul and Seth at their best. Their last couple of movies have been shitty. It’s nice to see they still got it. I also love how self aware this ad was. I’ve been secretly obsessed with that lately. Ads that know they are ads. The whole spot is about coming up with ideas for the spot. I remember when we did an ad for Archive magazine in ad school to congratulate it for 25 years. The ad became about our brainstorm session of trying to come up with an idea for it. This one is much cooler though.

I also love how it takes jabs at other super bowl commercials and cliches that had already aired.

Celebrity Endorsments – Amy Poehler, Tracy Morgan, The Rock, PSY, Stevie Wonder, Willem Dafoe, Kate Upton, Usher

Talking baby – E Trade.

Crowdsourcing – Lincoln Jimmy Fallon #Steerthescript

Space – Kia Astronauts / Axe Astronaut/ Toyota Rav4 Wishes (go to space)

Asian Rapper – Wondeful Pistachios

Then Lebron comes out and makes a cameo appearance on the tablet by saying he should make a cameo appearance on a tablet. I also have a bias towards him since I’m a Miami Heat Fan.

But let’s be honest. The best part of the ad (for anyone that loves Breaking Bad) is seeing Saul Price back in action. In fact, I think this ad also wins the Best Use Of Celebrity over Best Buy, Milk, Pistachios, Moi, and Bud Light.

Honorable Mention:

Tide “Miracle Stain”

The ending was the killer. This ad may be the reason the 49ers lost. I really love making the stain into a positive too. A good spin on the detergent spot.

Go Daddy “Big Idea”

More of everything Sky Waitress is my new favorite phrase. Finally a GoDaddy ad with a concept and not some weird sexual thing. This is true too. We’ve all had that idea we’ve procrastinated to follow. This ad comically shows why you shouldn’t rest on your laurels. Take no action and you’ll never have a sky waitress.

Best Use Of A Song

This one is easy despite some great samples like the Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” in the Mercedes ad and “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. My fave was Taco Bell making some old people feel really young.

They added a twist by making the song in Spanish, but I only wish it wasn’t sung by a guy that doesn’t really speak it. The Spanish is really awkward, but then again I guess the whole spot is.

Most Overlooked

So far no one is really talking about this Blackberry spot.

Maybe it’s because the examples they picked to showcase in the spot aren’t the best, but I think the idea of making a spot about what the phone can’t do because it’s easier to explain that in 60 seconds than what it can do is pretty clever. Some people are criticizing it because it’s been a while since Blackberry was relevant and maybe it should show us what it CAN do, but I think it’s enough of a conversation starter.

If you’re still reading this, thank you. I’m in no way an expert of advertising, but I do have my opinions ad thanks for entertaining them. I’ve covered quite a lot but to wrap up, here’s my top 5 commercials of the Super Bowl.

5.Doritos “Goat 4 Sale”

4. Tide “Miracle Stain”

3. Go Daddy “Big Idea”

2. Samsung – “The Next Big Thing”

1. Dodge Ram – “Farmer”

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