Piotr Jakubowski – Mind over Marketing

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – SuperBowl Edition
February 9, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: advertising, marketing | Tags: , , , ,

(My apologies for the formatting, just couldn’t get it right after hours of trying. A week late, but here it is. Curses, WordPress)

Once a year, on this glorious day, two football teams will fight for the ultimate prize in the sport, the Lombardi trophy. And while the players are taking commercial time outs, advertisers will slug it out for the title of best and most memorable spot.

This IS the chance for these commercials. And at $3 million for 30 seconds, they better be worth it.

Unfortunately that has not been the case in the past few years, and this year is no different.

Here are the Good, The Bad and the Ugly (and a new category as well).

The Good

Miller High Life – One Second Ads

In my book, by far the winner at this year’s Superbowl. The pre-campaign buzz with the online viral, the concept – everything is just fantastic. As it should be – people shop for beer BEFORE they sit down and watch the game. Why not remind them then? The one-second ads in the spot markets were a great idea, and Wendell Middlebrooks’ personality shines through. I’ve already written about this before, and I stand by my thoughts. Pigskin Gravy!

Guess what I was drinking during the SuperBowl?
Cash4Gold – Ed McMahon w/ MC Hammer

Though in the past not a place for spots like this, the Superbowl turned up some weird creative this year – case and point. This spot was so terrible, that it was memorable. MC Hammer getting rid of his golden pants? Who would have thought. With the shape of the economy, Cash4Gold took a calculated risk and addressed a large audience with a way out of their woes. I hope Ed doesn’t miss his golden throne too much.

Coke Zero – Mean Joe Greene

I’d seen different spoofs of this commercial before, with football (ahem…soccer) players and other products, but I had to rewatch the original with Mean Joe Greene to understand where the sentiment came from. A great blast from the past to one of the best commercials of all time, and Troy’s throwing of the man’s shirt at the end was a great comedic twist on an otherwise flawless spot. Alex does it again.

Monster.com – The Moosemoose3

As the spot started airing and the room started spinning, I was hoping this would go where it did. The bigshot in the front with the massive office, and the guy crunching numbers at the butt end of the company (literally). The contrasts in the sounds and visuals were fantastic, and the level of discomfort to the office worker, brilliant.

Hulu – TV

Another spot from the team at CP+B, who have a knack for coming up with some pretty creative stuff. Alec Baldwin in his 30 Rock character (which I unfortunately have not had the pleasure to see yet), talking about Hulu – the online TV channel. His character – fantastic, and a great humorous take on the fact that all of our favorite shows are available not only on the box, but also on our computer. We can no longer get away from them, and Hulu is taking over the world. Brilliant.

Dennys – Serious

Set with a Sopranos tone, the gangsters are talking about whacking the odd guy here and there. As the lady walks up and disrupts him, the situation takes a real tone. The cherry on top is the wide shot, as the waitress puts finishing touches on the smiley face pancake. Compared to some of the spots Dennys has come out with recently, this one proves memorable. Great creative, humor and a special that proved to be a home run for the company. A truly serious effort.

CareerBuilder – Shorts

A series of shorts that build up through the minute of the commercial, Careerbuilder hit the nail on the head with entertainment and repetition. The collection of funny situations emphasizes what people dislike about work (if they have a job in this economy). My favorite has to be the English speaking coffee drinking koala getting punched.

Pedigree – Crazy Animals

The Pedigree adoption drive spot featured people in everyday situations with non-everyday animals – a rhino, ostrich, warthog and water buffalo. A humorous look at owning a pet and definitely entertaining. The best part had to be the warthog in the back of the minivan with grandma. How much better of a comparison can you get?

Coca Cola – Heist, Avatar

The two Coca-Cola ads were better than last year, I think (don’t even remember what they were last year). The Avatar spot is a few weeks old, and requires a little more thinking to understand. The Heist spot, on the other hand, was really cute. The different insects stealing the bottle of Coke, the butterflies forming the shape of the bottle and the robbers opening it. The bugs clinking glasses at the end may have been a little much.

hyundaiHyundai – Angry Bosses

The best from the lot had to be the CEOs screaming about Hyundai in their native languages. You have the Japanese at Lexus and the Germans at BMW and MB, shouting their heads off about the Hyundai Genesis, a car that gives them a run for their money. Great comparison ad, and it’s really funny to watch angry in different languages. Oh, and the other spots were pretty forgettable.

The Bad

E-Trade – Babies

The baby returns with a partner in crime. This year there was only one spot and thank heavens for that. I’m not a real fan of the baby ads, I don’t really find them very amusing. They tend to be enjoyed by the masses, so I’ll only put it in the ‘bad’ category. The redeeming factor of this spot is the song – “take these broken wings and fly again”. Very fitting in a recession.

Audi – Transporter

Jason Statham’s role from the Transporter is reprised in this spot. I’m a sucker for great car spots, and although this one was filled with action and cars that failed to get away, it didn’t have the oomph of some other spots aired in the past. The Audi is sleek and truly drives like a charm. Perhaps Statham’s endorsement cost more than the media buy, and although he is a memorable character there was still something missing in the creative.

Gatorade – G

The recent rebranding of the entire Pepsi line covered Gatorade as well. It’s a mystery why they decided to focus on the G, when the lightning bolt from the logo is already so recognizable. The spot is empowering, though I did not recognize a large number of the characters in there.

GE – Tin Man

A homage to the tin man in Wizard of Oz, the character and message in the spot were both endearing. A reminder that the company spends time and effort on innovation in providing power to consumers. Sweet song and good message. Not great, however.

Doritos – Crystal Ball

A consumer-submitted spot that was fantastically shot, and extremely funny. I actually wish they used one of those Magic 8 Balls instead of the snow-globe. The reactions of the actors as everything unfolds was great, though it became predictable at the end. Feel sorry for the guy who had to take the shot to the junk for multiple takes. The second spot is just ridiculous and should be towards the bottom of the Ugly pile. Crunching chips declothing women, robbing ATMs and turning policemen into monkeys? Riiiiiight.

NFL – Usama Young

I don’t think too many people know who Usama Young is, but his story was great. Proving that nothing is impossible, and that with hard work and perseverance he made it from serving shaved ice on the sidelines to running on the field among the others. Heartfelt story, though the joke at the end was also a little much.

Toyota Tundra – Trailer Pull

Although many had criticized this spot quite heavily, it was pretty interesting. The winding road, the fire and the trailer – a great demonstration of the capabilities of the vehicle. Though not up to the fanfare brought up before the ad aired, this is much better than any of those Saved by Zero spots from the fall.

The Ugly

Sprint – Roadies

Although the commercial gets the point across, I don’t think I’d ever want to associate roadies with airplanes. No offense to any roadies out there, but the connections aren’t pleasant. And that beeping noise is annoying.

Pepsi – McGyver

The two Pepsi ads were MacGyver and the refresh anthem. The latter was to coincide with the recent rebranding campaign – refresh everything. Will.i.am is the new Bob Dylan? Jack Black is the new Jim Belushi? Don’t buy it. Coke’s been on top because it’s stuck to its roots. The Pepsuber spoof of MacGyver (including a cameo with the man himself) was painful to watch. Maybe I just liked MacGyver too much.

Go Daddy – Danica Patrick

Trying to use sex to sell a website service only goes so far. They’ve done this each year and it’s getting a little old. Danica Patrick is attractive, but what exactly does she have to do with web hosting. Oh wait, maybe driving a car with a big logo pasted on the side.

Pepsi Max – I’m Good

Competing with Coke Zero might be a little difficult as they carve the regular-coke-tasting-diet market. Complete with plenty of funny accidents that make you cringe, the real man can take anything. Except Diet Coke. Good way to get the message across, but the comedy is just stupid.

Bridgestone – Potatoheads, Moon

The spots last year with the screaming animals and zig-zagging around Alice Cooper were quite entertaining. Although the Potatoheads’ parts being knocked off was funny, the spot failed to inspire this year. And the ad with the men on the moon isn’t even worth commenting about. Doesn’t have enough to do with the actual quality of the tires.

Castrol – Grease Monkeys

Monkeys, particularly chimps, have been over-used in the past few years. Is it because their genetic make-up is 99% similar to ours? Don’t understand why they would have decided to enter onto turf already used by other companies in the past – the spot makes really no sense.

Budweiser – Clydesdales, Dalmatians

There is so much potential for the Clydesdales and the Dalmatian that everyone loves so much. But really, a horse fetching a branch? Bob Garfield mentioned that the spots “can’t decide whether to be funny or sweet.” This confusion in the creative process resulted in these spots. Nothing special, unfortunately, and a huge waste of potential.

Bud Light Lime – Summer

It’s cold outside, and the Bud Light Lime is supposed to remind you of summer. Too bad the drink is cold. Good attempt, but will it really replace Corona as the drink-with-lime of choice?

Cheetos – Evil

chester1The new Chester seems slightly creepy and somewhat senile looking. What happened to the crazy cheetah from the past? That being said, there really is no connection between eating Cheetos and being badass. Unless that annoying woman is the diet that’s been eating away at your sanity.

Kellogg’s – Frosted Flakes

Part of the campaign that Frosted Flakes has been running to repair baseball fields for kids around the country, the message gets lost in the spot. I actually didn’t know about this campaign without extra research, so how would the normal consumer? The photography and graphics save the spot and make it quite enjoyable to watch.

SoBe – Lizards

I never really liked these SoBe ads either. Last year’s spot with The Thriller and Naomi were just terrible. What saved this year is the football players dancing around in the tights. Nothing is funnier than seeing large men in spandex making fools of themselves. Still don’t buy the lizards wearing grills, though.

Taco Bell – Moving Too Fast

A guy gets the numbers to a sexy girl and tells her he will call. As soon as she walks away. Asks her to dinner and brings it right to her. Relationship ensues. What was this spot about? New product gets lost in the story.

H&R Block – Death

I know people hate tax season, but associating tax with death may be pushing the line a little bit. Isn’t H&R Block supposed to be helping people? Don’t associate with death. Especially when states like California delay giving back tax returns because they have no money.

conan1Bud Light – Conan, Drinkability

Conan is great, he really is. What’s funny about this spot is that he’s embarrassed when the Swedish spot hits New York. He should be embarrassed for doing this spot from the beginning. Tights, white fur and techno music. This gag does Bud Light no justice except proving that the brand has no identity. The other spots about cutting costs at work and the skiing Drinkability spot are also terrible. Too bad the guy from the office wasn’t thrown out earlier.

Toyota Venza – Contours

Apart from the Teleflora ad, this had to be one of the worst spots in the lot. Comparing objects to lines of cars has been done for years. But how streamlined is an African mask? And some of the other objects just didn’t have the lines you’d expect a car to have. I also read somewhere that this was targeted at the African American market. My thought? Fail.

The Ridiculous


This one was out of control. Just terrible. No more comment.

To watch all of these ads – click here.

Can’t wait to see these regurgitated for the next few months!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

i disagreed with a few of yours:

Comment by natalielewis

[…] The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – SuperBowl Edition […]

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