Superbowl ads 2012 – the full Adboardingpass review (part 2 of 3)

Every one of the ads. If it was awesome, it’s here. If it sucked, it’s also here.

If you missed part 1, click here

Part 3, along with final thoughts, is coming tomorrow.

A reminder of the ground rules for this review:

    1. I did not watch any of them live, and I have not seen any of them until right now. I will only view them once, as it would be in the game. I have also not read any of the reviews or “top 5 lists” articles from around the web. So the opinions are completely fresh and spontaneous. Kind of like a consumer at home:)
    2. We’re looking at ALL of them. If you make a good one it can be a career maker, and we should celebrate it. But if you make a bad one, we shouldn’t sweep it under the rug – let’s learn from it. (exception: I’m not going to include movie trailers or TV promos, as that’s a different ballgame altogether)
    3. The criteria used is based on my “crapy…good…or sublime advertising” post.
    4. As a rating, we will be assigning the following types of boarding passes, from best to worst: First Class Cabin, Business Class Cabin, Coach Class Cabin, Baggage Cargo Hold.

21. Chevy Sonic – Stunt Anthem

First Class Cabin – This one aims higher. It doesn’t stick to the car ad clichés, and it’s actually a little low on the “car” content. But Chevy does run deep, and in the Superbowl, they can afford the luxury of going for a brand “manifesto” type of ad. And I think they totally pull it off. Reaching out to a younger target and celebrating craziness and improvisation, backed by a great music track, they’re having fun, the audience is having fun…it’s a total win. Let’s use our criteria: It’s certainly interesting, it’s well branded (the shot of the Chevy logo underneath the flipping car is magic), it’s not really meant to be persuasive per so, but it’s tremendously campaignable (each of those stunts are full length promos/communication programs, I’m sure), and finally, it touches an emotional chord as an ode to wild, youthful fun. A slam dunk. And remember, the cumulative effect does count – Chevy is racking them up, and this predisposes the audience positively to each new Chevy ad that comes up.

22. Sketchers – Go run Mr. Quiggly

Coach Class Cabin – Advertising-by-the-numbers. A zany premise, a dog, a little humorous touch at the end. It’s typical Superbowl ad fodder, so it wasn’t bad, it’s just that it was…typical. Didn’t tell me much about the shoes, at best it generated some recall among dog lovers. But this ad could have been for nearly any product. For this big showcase, one expects better. PS – Really, Mark Cuban? Really?

23. Teleflora – Give (with Adriana Lima)

Baggage Cargo Hold – Oh puuhleeease. With so much potential to make something sexy, or sensual, or at least interesting, this ad is so pedestrian. And it has absolutely zero brand recall/linkage, which is a crime given that this brand is totally unknown (I bet you a million bucks you remember this as the Adriana Lima ad, and no clue about who it’s for). This is the type of ad that surprises me – because with all the effort and attention that goes into this, someone should be able to tell that it’s just not up to par. On the other hand, sexyness is a magical thing that sometimes only happens (or does not) when you’re on the set…you can hope but you can’t guarantee. Anyway, moving on.

24. Cars.com – Confident you

Coach Class Cabin – This one made me chuckle, because they stuck with the “crazy” until the end, they weren’t afraid to follow through with it. I can see how this unfolded: they came up with an interesting consumer insight of “confidence comes out of you” after browsing through cars.com, and the creatives took it to a wild place, and everybody bought into it. I think this one is fairly solid, it just lacked a certain sprinkle of magic for me (but you can tell they tried and they were disciplined about it, so I’m tempted to rate them a bit higher.)

25. Doritos – Sling Baby

Business Class Cabin – Perhaps I’m being over-generous, but this one made me smile, and it worked for me. I thought the little baby was cute. The premise was somewhat unexpected and well executed (although the effect were a little amateurish), and there was some taste appeal involved as well. So, pretty good. This was the other user-generated idea, and I think it was better than the one about the murderous dog, what do you think?

26. E*Trade – Fatherhood

Coach Class Cabin – I think this campaign has run its course. The novelty has faded away (even though it still catches the eye) so it’s just not as cut-through as it was a few years back. But most importantly, in these tough economic times I think there is a general distrust of financial institutions, and I don’t know if you get over that with these cute-humorous approaches. It felt a little shallow, and there is nothing shallow about feelings towards the economy in the US these days. It felt slightly off-tone to me this year, and because of that I think it will be quickly forgotten.

27. Hulu Plus – Extra Mush & Huluboratory

Coach Class Cabin – Hmmm, these were almost too much. Love Will Arnett, and love the “Men in Black” style. But can there be too much of a good thing? So many references and little jokes, so many visual devices… I’ll give this one credit for telling a somewhat complex product story fairly well – I got that Hulu was launching a service to watch your TV shows on mobile devices. Not bad. Beyond that, maybe they were stretching it. But I’d bet that this approach has “legs”, and there are follow-ups to come.

28. Toyota Camry – Connections

Business Class Cabin – A nice example of a brand transcending into the emotional space, with believability. I found it touching, I found it real, and (here’s the nice part) it communicates something very functional at the core of this product (reliability: these things last forever). This is a hard, hard trick to pull off, so…very well done! I’m tempted however to withhold the peanuts for the last part about “everyone has a story, what’s yours” – I’m highly skeptical of marketers wanting to collect stories from users. I can see the marketing director in their board room selling the notion of “engagement”, and starting conversations with our audience, blah, blah. But why would these users want to go through the trouble? What’s in it for them? It felt cheap and mechanical compared to what preceded it.

29. Chrysler – It’s Halftime in America

First Class Cabin – Fucking hell. Wow. Now that is why I’m proud to be in this business. This is advertising that transcends marketing. I just watched it for the first time 30 seconds ago and I don’t even know what to say. I’m not even originally from the US, but if I were watching that in a room full of Americans, at halftime of the Superbowl, I would have stood up and clapped or yelled or something. When he growls that line about “…they’re going to hear us roar…” are you friggin’ kidding me? That’s powerful stuff! I want to go out and bite the ass out of a bear! Or better yet, I want to go out and buy a Chrysler for myself, and a Dodge for my wife! (well, maybe not a Dodge, I can’t go that far…but perhaps a Jeep?). I’m going to have to write more about this ad, and I’m quite sure the whole web and beyond is going to explode about this one as well. It’s got it all – it’s interesting, it’s branded, persuasive, somewhat campaignable, and extremely, extremely emotional. For the second year in a row, Chrysler just completely blows it out of the park. I am in complete awe. Best in show. Blew me away. We are not worthy. Thank you, W+K, thank you. Awards to follow. Wow.

30. Chase Quickpay – Football

Coach Class Cabin – This ad had a nice visual style (the b/w is a nice contrast to all the glitzy full color productions that have preceded it), and it explained the product benefit quite simply. But this ad felt disjointed to me, as if patched together somehow. The mix of comedy and suburban ultra-realism, the music that speeds up and then slows down. The high-tech demo that didn’t feel entirely credible (if people simply don’t believe that the technology you’re selling them is going to work like you say it is, this is a problem). Overall, a little bit of a mix of elements that didn’t come together. Pity, because some of the elements were nice.

31. Fiat 500 Arbath – Seduction

First Class Cabin – Oh yes, this one is an old friend, which I selected as the Ad of the Day back in November 22. Click on the link to see what I said back then, but basically this ad has it all: humor, sex, high performance engine roar and tire squeak, and a strong link to the Italian heritage of Fiat 500 which is very ownable. Back then it was a viral ad, and Fiat was wondering if it was (or wasn’t) too risqué for regular broadcast. I’m glad they came to their senses and give this ad the true mass audience exposure it deserved. Whoever approved the J Lo campaign for the same car is likely updating their resume.

32. Pepsi Max – Regis

Business Class Cabin – I’ll admit, I’m a Pepsi hater and a Coke lover. So I’m not the target here, and I’m biased because I don’t for one second believe the premise. But…this ad is very well done, and the humor totally got me. They raised the stakes to a ridiculous level, and pulled it off. This ad doesn’t work if you’ve seen it before or if you know the outcome, but the first time, it’s just right. I still think this is entertainment and not much more because the persuasion is just not there. But good entertainment is good for the Superbowl, and it gets people talking. The Regis appearance was completely unnecessary, didn’t you think? It could have been anyone, but they just stuck in a celebrity as “insurance” (as in “hey, we tried everything!”)

33. Toyota Camry – Reinvented

Coach Class Cabin – They threw everything AND the kitchen sink at this one. A full minute of funny visual puns, linking it back to Toyota at the end. But the link up is so tenuous that to me it felt just barely there. I give the humor very high marks (the Lionel Ritchie blender? I want one), and in this specific context sometimes being entertaining and memorable is enough…but I expect just a little more, like the emotional impact of the previous Toyota spot (#28), for example.

34. Coca Cola – Argh

Business Class Cabin – Okay, fine! The Coke bears had me cold at first, started to gain traction in the second, and finally won me over in the third ad:) It felt very human – both in the desperation of the groan, and in the realization that after a tough sports loss…life goes on. Open Happiness was a happy bookmark for a really well executed little series of ads. The cumulative effect does count, and the overall memory is a good one. Well done Coke for sticking with it against my cynicism!

35. Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt

First Class Cabin – Hell yes! Loved, loved, loved this. I totally felt for it. I was so irritated with the retarded, clichéd seduction of the first 15 seconds, I wanted to punch Stamos in the face and mess up his cheek dimples. When she grabbed his wrist I was surprised and got my release, it was not great, but better than expected. Then she headbutts him and that was just great – never, ever saw it coming. The flying shoe, awesome. This is advertising when it’s ballsy. More, please!

36. Century 21 – Smarter, Bolder, Faster

Baggage Cargo Hold – I don’t want to be mean, but this is what happens when a company with an unsophisticated marketing team gets taken for a ride by their own desire to play in the “big leagues”. All well-meaning, and I’m sure the agency was doing their best (while blinded by the $ no doubt), but the result is a complete disaster. What’s the approach? throw a ton of money at the production, cram the ad with celebrities, and hope something happens. Just an awful waste. What was this ad even about? The title seems like it could be fodder for something inspiring, but you’re completely distracted by everything else going on. Me, I spent the whole ad trying to figure out if the actress was the secretary from MadMen! . Fail.

37. Acura – Transactions

Baggage Cargo Hold – Much like the previous ad, this one is wasteful and self-indulgent. Celebrities, super production, overly long. The only difference is that at least I understood this ad was about a car, and it’s a pretty cool looking car. And the story was simple and linear, so it was easy to understand. These are meaningful differences. And they will help get the ad talked about. But this doesn’t shake the feeling of desperation that surrounds this ad. Jay, Jerry…really? REALLY???

…Part 3, along with final thoughts, is coming tomorrow.

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1 thought on “Superbowl ads 2012 – the full Adboardingpass review (part 2 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Superbowl ads 2012 – the full Adboardingpass review – and overall thoughts (part 3 of 3) | adboardingpass

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