SuperBowl Ads: Who Cares What We (Especially I) Think
Super Bowl advertising is important. You know that. Clients know it. My mom knows it. Scott Goodson, founder of cool global agency StrawberryFrog, tweeted a reminder before the game that “The entire tone that a corporation projects comes from the ad it releases on the Super Bowl.”
Everyone has a favorite spot and every year, another way to express their pick. The most mass and well-known rating system of people as they watch the commercials is USA Today‘s Ad Meter. YouTube also provided AdBlitz, with simple thumbs-up and down ratings and posted each spot immediately after each TV airing. There was also plenty of noisy play-by-play discussion and debate on Twitter (e.g., #brandbowl). Aside from my favorite moments on Glee’s special episode, what could I possibly add to the post-game chatter that’s not stale already?
I love dogs, but for me it was the auto industry who stole the show.
USA Today‘s poll had Bud Light and Doritos spots with dogs at the top, but I am feeling the retro modern return of the car industry. VW’s new Passat spot with a kid testing the Force as Darth Vader is being shared and watched again and again. Mercedes tapped its charming history of spots and had them escape, punctuated by Puff Daddy losing his Mercedes. Chevrolet Silverado rescues a boy and then Cruze tracks a first date and emphasizes Facebook integration into the car which will be timely and I bet drive people to dealers (which is how the auto industry actually measures success). Bridgestone’s “Carma” was unexpected for a tire brand.
Chrysler was, however, the biggest crowd pleaser. There’s nothing like an underdog story in American culture, and this beautiful spot has a great script with lines like “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know…” and “Now it’s probably not <the story> you’ve been reading in the papers… by people who have never been here…” Like most people, I immediately loved “Imported from Detroit” tagline — a huge push forward for the brand (but you already know how I feel about taglines).
Product news. And kicks to the groin.
It may not have been the most creative commercial but an early AT&T dramatized the difference between its iPhone and what Verizon will offer — the ability to talk and use data at the same time. That’s product news. The weakest, to me, were popular in USA Today’s poll and on Facebook. Pepsi Max used old school groin humor (Love Hurts) and Hyundai’s tried to breakthrough with big-ness, but were kinda bizarre. Best Buy was crowded with chatter.
Did you join — or unsubscribe from — Groupon?
Most of the controversy I followed was around Groupon’s first mass campaign introducing itself to America. It taps celebrities (Elizabeth Hurley, Tim Hutton) to at first parody their favorite causes (Rainforest, Whales, Tibet) and then suggest using Groupon to save money instead. While it was creative, I found it pretty tone deaf to the culture. Groupon protested back (even quickly tweeting a response to my partner Bryan Fuhr to explain the back story was on their site). Apparently, they do give money to all those celebrity causes, but I don’t know why you’d leave that important back story out and not integrate it into the spots everyone sees. Maybe it’s a drive-to-web attitude but still; a lot of brand fans are no longer just that.
Was it a good ad bowl? Or have our expectations for creativity moved on?
The epiphany I had walking our dog during the second quarter (the opposite behavior of a true fan but one of geeky ad folk not wanting to miss a commercial) however was that the mix of bad ads vs. great ads wasn’t new at all. Every year has plenty of those, and many more in between. The difference is in the expectations for creativity in the Super Bowl. In the last twenty-seven years, perhaps since the airing of Apple’s “1984″ spot, the Super Bowl has been the biggest public showcase for advertising creativity. The thing is, now our expectations for creativity are happening elsewhere — through technology and in the digital world. Sure, Super Bowl spots still can surprise with their narrative but the form itself is constrained. Snickers’s Roseanne was a great sequel to last year’s Betty White. But for creativity in the industry, we’ve learned to truly admire and love more interesting, interactive work and that we find on Mashable, on Facebook, in Good Magazine — and usually passed on from our friends.
And as coincidence (maybe?) would have it, the biggest TV advertising event is, this year, the day before one of the newest: Social Media Week — which begins today.
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