Super Bowl Ads for 2012 – Poop-less Baby Time Machine Edition

THE WINNERS

Chrysler “It’s Halftime, America”

OK, I have to start with Clint. I mean, he is Clint after all. First off, he is walking around in some really dark places in Detroit, or was he at the game? Looked kind of like Detroit. I know he could probably go all Dirty Harry on any trouble, but still I worried about him in that tunnel. Equating Detroit with the rest of America makes sense since the rest of America bailed out Detroit. And I do believe it is halftime in America. One of the most TRUE things Clint says is, “All that matters now is what’s ahead.” And that is very TRUE at halftime. One of the weirdest things he says is, “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch.” One punch? One punch really puts a false spin on years of greed; mismanagement by those very car companies; and the very real budget, unemployment and housing issues this country still faces. But I guess America is a lot like Clint – faced with adversity, we always seem to have one last bullet. “So you’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

VW “The Dog Strikes Back”

As soon as I saw this fat dog, I was in. Come on. Everyone has a fat dog. I have a fat dog and I love him. And America is fat. And it’s halftime, America. Get off your asses and get in shape. Then chase a VW into the future where there’s a Star Wars’ bar and Darth Vader. OK, that’s where I got a little lost. So I went right back to thinking about the fat dog trying to get through the dog door and I laughed.

Camry “Reinvented”

This is the kind of concept spot I have always liked. They don’t show a thing that has been reinvented for the Camry, but you get the feeling that they’re always looking for innovation. And innovation is full of lofty dreams like poop-less babies and rain that makes you thin. Hopefully, Toyota will back it up with some cool stuff like heated cup holders or cars that run on baby poop.

Chevy “Mayan Apocalypse”

This ad looks fantastic. If you’re going to do the end of the world, you should spend the coin to do it right. And the song is great. But poor Dave. He drove a Ford. You always take a chance when you go straight at a competitor. Especially a competitor that has the money to come back at you like Ford, but I think in this case it was worth it. And even if Ford does retaliate with Dave ruling the Tunnel People in his Ford X-150 or whatever, a Twinkie will make it all better.

Honda “Matthew’s Day Off”

There was a lot of chatter among ad folks that this ad sucked. I liked it. One of the main things ads do is to capture an emotion that can be attributed to your product. Revisiting Ferris Bueller brings back a host of emotions if you’re a fan of the film. Even though the ad didn’t live up to the movie, I still felt like taking the day off and finding some crazy stuff to do instead. If an ad can infuse a sense of whimsy and freedom to your product – you win even if it is a mini-SUV with a somewhat stunted personality.

Doritos “Man’s Best Friend”

I thought the ad was fun but not really great. However, I did enjoy the edge of it. Dogs whacking cats works for me and obviously for America. And it seems it is worth $1 million from Doritos. So that makes it good. Doritos has found a great identity for their Super Bowl spots and has really grabbed the attention away from BEERS.

Seinfeld “Acura Transactions”

Seinfeld is funny, but it’s very inside funny. If you love the show, you probably loved the ad. But I don’t love Leno and I’m not really digging the premise of the spot. So others worked better for me. Still, the ad got a ton of play before the Super Bowl so it probably worked.

THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

Samsung’s “Thing Called Love” seems like a phone with a pen. At least they are trying and the ad was kind of fun.

Bridgestone’s “Performance Ads” were interesting, but I feel like they have done better. I want one of those tire footballs though.

“Happy Grad” for Chevy was a funny performance, but I have to agree with a friend of mine who said, “The client could have directed that. They love it when someone in the ad is screaming for their product.” It looks like crowd sourcing is really helping clients get the ads that appeal to them that they may not be getting from agencies.

KIA “Dream Car” was a pretty good ad. It was fun to watch and I will remember the girl waving the flag. But sometimes, ads are just missing something. I felt this last year with KIA. But this year was better.

M&M’s “Naked” was a big fan favorite. It was good, but I wasn’t thinking of it as much of a Super Bowl spot. It just lacked import. It was funny, but just a good ad.

Bud’s “Wego” was a fun dog-gets-us-beer spot again. I feel like I have seen a lot of dog-getting-us-beers spots. But the dog was fantastic.

Pepsi and Elton. It just didn’t live up to my expectations for Elton.

THE LOSERS

Century 21. I am biased here but I think they really blew it. I see the point they are trying to make with their agents, but they did it in a way that couldn’t be more phony. People are still in a tough spot with their homes in America. Sure, they are looking for superheroes to help them. But instead of looking like superheroes, the agents tended to look like cartoons, especially when helping Trump and Sanders. Also, the way the ads are shot is just way too slick. There isn’t a home in America that can live up to the color alone in those ads much less anything else. The tone of the ads is all wrong. It’s matter of fact and carefree when consumers are still anything but. They don’t take the Century 21 brand seriously, so why should we.

E*TRADE has been a winner for years in the Super Bowl. They have a rich history of bringing home the bacon in the big game. This year was their worst performance ever in my opinion. It would have been better if they had skipped the competition. They lost face.

Bud’s “Prohibition” was a nice idea but it was so boring. History lessons are not good commercials unless someone gets killed Boardwalk Empire style. They should have whacked the Coors guy trying to move in on their territory from Denver.

COMMERCIALS WITH SEXY WOMEN AND MEN

Go Daddy. Wow, they just get more and more idiotic as time passes. But it seems to work in the big game. The ads are not good though. It’s hard to tell what they’re even communicating other than – please come to the website. I love beautiful women but have never been to the website – ever.

Teleflora’s “Give and Receive.” I hate to tell them this, but she is going to need far more than flowers. She looks really high-maintenance. Flowers and a car may do it. Flowers and a summer home. Flowers and a 20-carat diamond. You get the picture. Still, the ad was memorable for obvious reasons.

H&M’s “David Beckham.” Women watch the game too. And this would be the part they actually watched. So good job David Peckham, I mean Beckham.

USA TODAY’S AD METER WINNER

“Baby Sling” was shown to me by the director in a sound-editing suite along with some other ads he was entering. There was another ad I thought was much better called “Dog Heist.” I still like it better although it looks like “Baby Sling” has a great chance to win the USA TODAY AD METER and a prize of 1 million bucks. I don’t know why though. I could see that baby coming from a mile away. He would never get my Doritos.

PARTING THOUGHT

There are those who didn’t like the fact that Super Bowl ads were put out early on YouTube and corporate Web pages. The companies that do this are smart. The ads need time to get press and social momentum. With the price of a Super Bowl spot and the money it takes to produce one, buy rights to songs, pay celebrities and put together any other parts of a program that may be needed, it’s important to get as much play as you possibly can. The day of the game and the three days after are not near enough.

Too many beavers and briefs mean not-so-super ad blitz

“Men in tighty whities are disgusting.” – Mary Ann Mele, R&R Partners President and Chief Strategic Officer

Google won by simply being themselves. The eTrade babies’ “milkaholic” ad was a winner. Punxsutawney Polamalu is not only difficult to spell – it was also fairly creepy, but effective. Coke, while easy to spell, was painfully irrelevant. The GoDaddy ads should just go away.

That’s the general consensus from a solid hour of R&R Partners’ Monday morning quarterbacking of the advertising blitz surrounding that roman numeral-suffixed game played the day before. Our panel of critics included people from all disciplines within the agency.

In case you used commercial breaks for something other than awaiting the unveiling of new advertisements, every spot is easily viewable online. Check out YouTube’s channel, where you can vote for your favorite, or Fox/MSN’s site, which organizes them by quarter.

Overall, our panel thought the 2010 ads were mediocre, with a few bright spots. Absent were the emotional tearjerkers and ads with brand engagement through the Internet. Plentiful were ads bashing white, out-of-shape men – and other concepts we felt like we’d seen many times before.

“I just don’t like the tired formulas,” Associate Creative Director Tony Marin said. “People getting hit, underwear jokes – all of that just makes me cringe.”

“It’s a reflection of the times, but everybody is very, very afraid of doing anything that isn’t pretty safe,” Executive Vice President/Creative Director Randy Snow added. “Even the stuff that was ‘edgy’ was pretty safe. As much as I loved the Google ad, it was just a product demo. There was really no risk in that ad. … It’s because of the economy. Nobody wants to take a shot with $3 million. They’d rather animate animals or pull Troy Polamalu out of a hole.”

That fear kept some normally ad-friendly brands, such as Fed Ex, out of the game entirely.

“They said it was because of cost and because of scrutiny. They laid off employees,” Executive Vice President Rob Dondero said. “And the official NFL beer, Coors, wasn’t even in it.”

Public Relations Group Account Director Clinton Pope asked about the propensity of allowing people to preview the ads prior to the game through YouTube, etc.

Executive Creative Director Arnie DiGeorge had firsthand knowledge. “I did that; I went on the night before and watched all the ones that I could actually see before the game and they all seemed to be bad ones, for the most part. I think those are the ones people are previewing – the ones that really don’t have confidence,” he said. “Your best choice is to have a teaser for the ad that isn’t the ad. But it still has to be great.”

That’s what it boils down to, of course – having a great ad. Some brands, like Doritos and Bud Light, chose quantity over quality, each using a bunch of completely unrelated spots hoping for one or two that “stuck.” Some chose to stick to one message.

“If you’ve got a good campaign and you’ve got multiple pieces of the same thing telling the story, that’s cool, and if you’ve got a brim of broad audiences and you’ve got one against different passion points, that’s cool, too,” Associate Media Director Jeremy Thompson said.

“I thought the Budweiser ads fell short. You go into it with people really expecting a lot from them, and I don’t think they got there,” LVCVA Group Account Director Kim Downing said.     “I really liked the (Volkswagen) ‘slugbug’ ad. It was nostalgic; it showed the product. I just thought it was really good.”

Corporate Director of Digital Marketing Sean Corbett was enamored with the reaction from perhaps the world’s largest focus group – the instantaneous opinions offered up on Twitter.

“The minute a spot ran, you’d start seeing the opinions flow through the Twitter stream. It was really cool to watch. A lot of ad folks, obviously, every agency in the country, seemed to be online last night – and then general people catching on and talking about the ads was really cool,” he said.

WINNERS

  • Google’s spot, essentially a product demo, was lauded by the entire group. “It did everything it needed to do. It showed you how much Google is part of our life, it told a story. It was simple. It used their user interface. … It was a great spot,” DiGeorge said.

“It reminded me of why I choose to use it every day over Bing. They are about simplicity; they are about ease-of-use. It was a really great change-up from everything we had seen,” Corbett added.

“I think they accomplished in one ad what Bing has been trying to accomplish with tons of ads,” Marin said.

  • The T-Pain ad, even though it was basically a different vision of the “Wassup” ads of a few years so, still worked.
  • The eTrade babies, specifically the “milkaholic” spot, was solid.

“I liked the eTrade babies but I’d like to see them go in a different direction now. This should be the end of that type of campaign,” Pope said.

LOSERS

“The fact that a bunch of people from an ad agency sat in a room just to talk about the commercials, and for an hour Coke never entered the discussion – for a brand that big to go that unnoticed says a lot,” said yours truly, Web Content Developer Sal DeFilippo.

  • The Who, and more so, the people who were stuck watching them.

“The Twitter backlash on The Who was vicious. One of the better comments was, “can somebody please hurry up and wrap up The Who show because they have to get home and watch Matlock.”

  • GoDaddy.com – most disappointing “by far,” according to Pope.
  • Taco Bell – the commercials that aired in advance leading up to a very dull “Green Eggs and Ham” spot featuring Charles Barkley. (Note: In fairness, not too many words rhyme with “gordita.”)