Happy new year, or as they say here: Gong Xi Fa Cai!
We’ve come to part 3. Our hope is that some ads will reach the greatness levels of last year, because so far…we have fallen well short.
35. Gildan T Shirts – Getaway
I liked this one. It made me smile, it was visually interesting, it had a good buildup to the joke, and the t-shirt was the catalyst of the action, and the key prop in the punchline. Nicely done. Alas the key flaw here was branding, which came in too late and too weakly. In fairness I don’t know how they could have gotten it in early in a way that was credible, but it’s a problem. Imagine this ad from Fruit of the Loom and it would be a great Super Bowl ad. But since this ad comes from…what was the name again?? Exactly. – Coach Class Cabin
36. Wonderful Pistachios – PSY Get Crackin’
Uff. You see, when you try to ride the wave of pop-culture, timing is everything. Release this ad 4 months ago on some big-stage viewing event, and you’re the genius. Today…it’s starting to feel very tired, very sell-out. Yes, it’s entertaining, yes it’s pretty cool to see PSY humping the pistachio with wild abandon, yes it makes you smile. It’s tongue-in-cheek, unabashedly so, and that has its charm. Not enough to make it great, probably enough to make it ok in this context. I’m upgrading with much skepticism based on assured recall, but more than anything I do it because it looks like we’re over-booked on Coach. – Business Class Cabin
37. Lincoln – Once Upon a Tweet
No. I tell you what does work here – the car looks pretty cool. That actually means a lot, and catches my interest. The rest? Garbage. A whole ad made about some tweets, with the hope that you’ll go check out the back-story. It’s nonsense. Marketing people and agencies talking to each other in a circular hell of social media clichés. They and maybe their family members will be the only ones that will wish to “continue this conversation”, which is so completely uninteresting to real consumers, and completely unconnected to the product (this could have been done for literally any product). Really, really bad. And it’s a shame, because they have a cool looking car – Baggage Cargo Hold
38. Speedstick – Unattended Laundry
This ad is a monument to predictability, a love song to cliché, and a celebration of happy mediocrity. Really nothing there. I get it, the product benefit and all, but the mundane scenario and dialogue are just too much to overcome. And by the way, after underwhelming me so much with your non-entertainment, don’t even ask me for a tweet. Not going to happen. – Coach Class Cabin
39. Beck’s Sapphire – No Diggity
Context matters, and after so many bad ads in a row, I kind of like this one quite a bit! I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but the components were there. Cool looking bottle, respectable brand for a premium message, funky mood, funky tune, crazy fish…Call me crazy, but it was ok. Not Super Bowl topping ok, not I-will-remember-this-brand ok, but a decent enough 30 seconds. – Coach Class Cabin
40. RAM Trucks – Farmer
Ok, then, finally! This is a “statement” ad. They took a risk of going overboard (but they took the risk!), and with much more grace and distinctiveness than the Jeep ad, I think they nailed it, and delivered a beautiful, lasting statement that could really help re-define this brand if they choose to pursue it. Beautifully written, did you notice the cadence, the ebbs and flows of the words? During portions I didn’t even understand what was being said, as it was too fast and I’m not familiar with the terminology – but it didn’t matter. Beautifully shot. Solemn yet hopeful. Nostalgic yet forward-looking. Targeted yet universal (this is for the farmer in all of us). An ad with a point of view. An ad beautifully crafted. An ad that touches the emotions. And you know what – it wasn’t branded until the very end but it still works for Dodge, because the link is very credible and easy to accept, and also people repay their enjoyment by acknowledging the maker. Really, really good. Hats off. – First Class Cabin
41. KIA – Space Babies
It’s interesting that this follows the RAM truck ad. Here we’ve got a really interesting story, told in a pretty fantastic manner. The Babylandia segment is both interesting, somewhat funny, cute, and really well produced – it’s like a Hollywood movie. But alas, they don’t land the plane and link it to KIA! I know they tried it (by having the voice activated radio play the song on command..) but nobody is going to notice that after having such a vivid image in their head a few seconds ago. And because there is no credible link between the story of Babylandia and KIA, none is registered, and no one will remember who this ad was for – while they’ll remember the baby piglets just fine. They had a strong hand and played it really badly. – Coach Class Cabin
42. Tide – Miracle Stain
A mixed-bag effort here (successfully jumping over a hurdle, failing at another and not even attempting yet a third )that I nonetheless enjoyed. And enjoyment is that key and initial hurdle. Without it people won’t notice you, won’t remember you, and your ad will pass like a ship in the night. I thought the miracle Montana stain idea was kooky, yet also somewhat believable and definitely relevant. It worked for me, and I enjoyed how they drew it out into an over-the-top narrative. Alas I think they failed to connect it enough to Tide – the connective “joke” was too small for the buildup that preceded it, and it just didn’t stick. Thus, it’s probably best they didn’t even attempt to touch you emotionally, because it’s likely they would have failed. Could have been more, but it was a nice, solid effort. – Business Class Cabin
43. Sodastream – Effect
One must give credit here because this is a brand that seemingly out of nowhere arrives at the big advertising stage and tries to make a big statement with a well-produced ad and a decent enough idea behind it in “if you love the bubbles, set them free”. And yet, I fear they just don’t nail the landing. It’s interesting to watch, especially the part about the exploding bottles. But it’s difficult to connect the dots fully in your head – how do you liberate the bubbles if indeed what you are doing is making carbonated drinks at home? Isn’t it just a different way to do the same thing? And, as ingrained as Coke and co. are in our lives, do we really think their product is so easy to “manufacture” by alternative means? And…why should I bother? You get my drift. There’s something there, and it could even be revolutionary – but when it takes a 20 slide Powerpoint to sell you on it, it’s not simple enough. I’d say these guys had a solid 30 seconds, did an honest best, but didn’t surpass the extremely high benchmark they set for themselves. – Coach Class Cabin
44. Mercedes-Benz – Soul
Ah, yes. I love this ad. Exquisitely produced, and oozing opulence (superb casting, epic soundtrack…nothing came cheap, all of it worthwhile). But in the end, it only truly works because a)there’s a great product truth (value for money) conveyed through a clever twist, b)there’s a great looking product front and center throughout, and c)the story is entertaining to watch, once you start you can’t take your eyes off the screen. The money is justified by the idea…the idea is amplified with the money. That’s how you make a good Superbowl ad. A well deserved selection as our Ad of the Day back on February 1. – First Class Cabin.
45. Samsung – The Next Big Thing
This ad is almost cheating. I mean, you some of the top comedic film talent of today (plus a LeBron cameo!), and you just tell them to have fun and improvise. Probably shot hours of film and then edited it down to a long-form ad. If you had described this to me I would have predicted a disaster, or at best a funny 2 minutes with no benefit to the product itself. And I would have been wrong. Against big odds I think they just crushed it. Funny, engaging, and with the product and brand credibly woven into the narrative. It’s the kind of extravagant, over-the-top concept comes to life with money is no object (Samsung smells blood in the water and they want to redouble their efforts vs Apple), and talented creative people are allowed to do their thing while everyone else gets out of the way. It’s really quite simple to describe, but so hard to pull off: Something to catch your attention (celebrities), an interesting story (their passive-aggressive dialogue), and the product credibly integrated in a manner that is important to the story. Loved this, my hats off for the courage involved in bringing pulling it off successfully. – First Class Cabin
46. Pepsi Next – Party
Poor Pepsi. They’re that guy that tries so damn hard. You want them to do well, to reward the effort. But in the end, it’s just…ok. Take this ad for example. The idea (parents returning early during a party) has been done to death, but they try to execute it well, and even aim high with some nice touches (the guy pouring the gallon of milk over his head is out-there enough to be funny, as is the random “baaa” of a sheep when the music dies out). But it’s hard for this idea to escape the gravitational pull of a brand, and a product (60% less? is that supposed to be a lot when Coke promises the same benefit with 0 calories?) that is just…not…ready to win the big game. Nice enough, that’s about it. – Coach Class Cabin
And there you have it folks – All 46 ads, not counting movie trailers. Looks they saved the good stuff for the end of the game, I wonder if it was on purpose? Check back tomorrow for closing thoughts and our top 5!
Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!
Why I like it: It’s really just as simple as: a good story, with a clear role for the brand/product, told in a manner that is interesting and engages the attention. Actually, there’s nothing simple about this (but it does sound simple, doesn’t it?). But this ad is an example of how it works: I was drawn in by the claustrophobic opening and the sense that something was keeping our two protagonists apart – would they find each other?. It was executed nicely, featuring everything from a catchy tune, to aerial shots, sympathetic casting, special effects, and a little bit of humor. And of course, the role of IKEA as the catalyst (and notice that they were ambitious and elevated their role from mere “retailer” to “life enhancer”. Nicely done, and just credible enough to work.) A solid effort from Mother.
What will part 2 have in store? Hopefully some better ads, the Baggage Cargo hold is getting crowded, while there is plenty of room in First Class…
21. Subway – A Story 15 Years in the Making
This ad is about a celebration, but somehow there’s something here that’s oddly…a little sad. Perhaps it’s the mental image of this poor guy Jared as some sort of human guinea-pig in a 15-year experiment, forced to eat low-fat Subway sandwiches every day to see if he can become a “claim” in a TV campaign. It’s all a little off-putting. Don’t tell me the lone quick shot of him blowing out some candles doesn’t seem mildly pathetic, like they took him out of his cage briefly to blow a candle placed on top of a…6 inch ham, lettuce and tomato, no mayo or mustard please. There has to be more to life than that. And, sorry but I think even fast food lovers quake at the thought at eating at the same joint for 15 years. Wrong strategy Subway, that’s why the rest of the ad (celebrities, movie trailer-like setup) is completely forgettable. – Baggage Cargo Hold
22. Budweiser – Brotherhood
Bud has been running these Clydesdale ads for forever, and it has been about that long since they were any good. So I was all set to go to hate on this ad! But, despite my best efforts, it kind of got to me. The clearest lesson here is the importance of music. At times it’s almost as easy as cheating. I’ve heard it said that it can be 80% of the effect, and that applies here. You could put a monster truck highlight reel to the tune of Stevie Nicks singing “Changes”, and I would find it emotional. So there’s that. But I give them full credit. The story was cheesy, but heartwarming. The strong hook (music), the storytelling, the branding (Clydesdale), the emotional touch (the reunion)…it makes for a solid one-time effort, suitable for this big stage Super Bowl screening. The only thing I found truly lame is the gratuitous social media nonsense shoe-horned into the end. Way to bring down the emotion and turn things really pedestrian, guys! (sigh). – Business Class Cabin
23. Taco Bell – Viva Young
It’s a little weird to see grannie doing all of these things, and the mind remembers it even worse than what was shown (were they doing lines of coke at one point or am I just remembering it that way?) But, this ad will be both noticed and remembered, and that’s a critical breakthrough on this big stage. And despite the shock factor of octogenarian tattoos, do you know what the true touch of genius in this ad is? The music. Having Fun perform “We are Young” is not just cool, it’s genius. It’s what elevates this ad two notches right from second 3. Kudos to those who tinker, and are not satisfied with a smash hit that fits just right, kudos to those who figure it should be sung (in a so-bad-it’s-brilliant performance) by the same band. That’s creativity. Alas, buried away deep somewhere among all this madness is Taco Bell and the food. This brand hasn’t earned the right to make a “manifesto” film with barely a mention of product…so this is a demerit – but nonetheless a distinguished effort. – Business Class Cabin
24. Sketchers – Man vs Cheetah
Meh. Not bad, but not great, which means it’s entirely forgettable unless you happen to love nature documentaries about cheetahs. This is an idea that doesn’t feel fresh, I don’t know for sure but it feels like something that would have been done before 100 times. The special effects are pretty pedestrian, and the humor is not consistent. On the plus side, you have a credible product benefit showcased in an interesting manner. Not bad. But overall, this one will pass like a ship in the night, even more so than the bad ads that people will talk about for being so terrible. – Coach Class Cabin
25. Lincoln – Phoenix
The car category is really tough, especially if you want to make an ad about an actual car (and not some grander statement like Chrysler did last year, for example). So I have mucho respect for those who toil away at this under such tough odds. Basically, you either have a cool looking car, or you (most often) don’t. If you don’t, you can either make the windy road ad and be forgotten instantly, or do something really creative and take a gamble. Either way, tough gig. Now, if you have a cool-looking car, you can do whatever you want. Worst case scenario you’ll be mildly interesting, best case scenario you’ll awaken desire. Here Lincoln has a car that looks pretty decent, so I expect people took note for about 30 seconds. The jazz drummer and all the rest was background noise, but that big sun roof? That was pretty cool. Either way, halfway through the following commercial you will have forgotten about this one. – Coach Class Cabin
26. Jeep – Whole Again
Wow. For starters I’ll say that in these big “cultural manifesto” type ads, timing is key. Last year the Chrysler ad blew everyone away (myself included) because the US was in the midst of a painful-yet-hopeful sense of having hit rock bottom. It was a message superbly calibrated to its time. This year, GM goes back to that same patriotic/emotional well, but I feel the country moved on. Things have continued to slowly improve, there is a little more optimism, a little more room for a lighter message. And…yet…goddammit this ad broke me. I tried to resist the overt and flagrant attempt to manipulate my emotions! They threw the kitchen sink at me: the concentrated Americana imagery, the emotive Oprah narration, the soaring Hans-Zimmer styled score, the always-powerful “family-reunion-after-long-separation” theme, the naked patriotism, etc. Everything but puppies. And…in the end…they got me! First 30 seconds I was in full hipster-cynic mode. By second 60 my defenses were down. By 1:20 I felt a lump. By 1:40 I felt a tear. No expense was spared here, and it worked…I guess. Attention-grabbing, statement-making, tastefully-branded, emotionally-filled. So there’s that. Powerful, and ultimately somewhat effective…but I do feel quite used and manhandled by this ad, to be honest. (and I predict the non-US readers at Adboardingpass will kind of hate this ad). – Business Class Cabin
27. Century 21 – Wedding
I had to watch this twice because I couldn’t believe how awful this ad was, how utterly void of any redeeming quality it is. I’m not going to waste too many words on this one, because there’s nothing to say. But I am genuinely mystified about how an ad this bad gets made, especially for such a big showcase. I mean, I work in advertising, I understand the process, and I fail to see how something this bad can make it from start to finish. I’ve seen so many great ideas fall along the way, which consumers will never see. Yet this sophomoric mediocrity is a Super Bowl ad? I can’t believe a proper agency and marketing team were involved, I’ve got to assume that Century 21 is owned by a reclusive and eccentric billionaire that wrote and directed this on their own. – Baggage Cargo Hold
28. Blackberry 10 – Can’t Do
Ummm, no, wrong. If you think about it a bit, sure, it makes sense. But in the fast flow of the commercial break, this is a comprehension mess. The whole time you’re trying to figure out how the action matches up with a feature of the phone…so it’s a wasted opportunity to figure out at the end that none of this has anything to do with the phone. Poor strategy, poor creative idea, decent enough execution, semi-decent visual entertainment of no lasting benefit to the brand that sponsored it. It all amounts to a completely mediocre (and thus forgettable) mess. – Coach Class Cabin
29. E-Trade – Save it
Wow. This campaign idea was once cute, different and interesting. That time has long, long since passed. What a mess this is. Atrocious (10th-grader-on-a-Mac) execution, a muddled message, painfully unfunny story. A mess. I haven’t read the reviews, but if this ends up being a popular ad, it will speak poorly for the American viewing public. – Baggage Cargo Hold
30. Subway – FebruANY
See, advertising doesn’t have to be a technically sophisticated thing. This is a completely lame ad that ends up actually working, despite itself. The spontaneous blooper-style clips humanize the celebrities and make them relatable. And the concept of Februany is kind of ridiculous, but the tongue-twister IS the joke here, and it relates well to the product and the offer. Not Super Bowl caliber in terms of ambition (this could run any week, any day, any time), but an honest effort, at least. – Coach Class Cabin
31. Bud Light – Lucky Chair
I hated the previous ad in this series (No. 15). This one is a bit of a jumbled mess, but it had enough elements to make it a passable experience. Why jumbled? Stevie Wonder appearing at the end seemed to come out of nowhere, and the whole lucky-chair-actually-cursed thing forced you to retroactively remember the whole commercial. Way too complicated for a Bud Light ad. Here’s where I thought they were going: a humorous, beautifully shot narrative about the extent guys will go to take their lucky chair with them to a game. Warm, real, relatable, simple. That would have been enough, and then it got all crazy with Stevie, the hot girl, voodoo, etc (this is one case where they would have been better served by having 1/5 the budget. Their need to make this “big” made them lose focus). – Coach Class Cabin
32. Axe Apollo – Bodyguard
This ad wants to be great: great brand strategy, funny premise, sexy shots, tongue-in-cheek, surprise twist, etc. So let me tell you why it doesn’t work: it has such an aching desire to be “social”, to be bigger than just an ad, to “continue the conversation”…that in the end it doesn’t seal the narrative deal. It doesn’t really deliver the joke! And that is a crime. Memo to the industry, it’s ok to save the last 5% of an ad to lead elsewhere, as long as we’re happy by the ad and the next place sounds interesting. But if you reserve the last 30%, leave us completely hanging, and expect us to go find the closer elsewhere…it’s too much. Nobody cares enough to go to the web and read up on your super clever Astronaut scheme, even if you’re Axe. We wanted to see the hot girl do something with the guy on the beach, forget your astronaut! Wasted potential. Sigh. – Coach Class Cabin
33. MiO Fit – Change
I’m starting to despair. This ad is entirely mediocre, relying almost exclusively on your love (or not) for Tracy Morgan and his style of rambling. I happen to like it, but much like the Best Buy ad with Amy Poehler (No. 7) it is 95% Tracy Morgan, not-enough-percent product. The linkage comes too late, and without a compelling, persuasive reason (Sports drinks are too boring? Says who? Since when? If that’s your whole strategy, oh boy…). I enjoyed your Tracy so thank you for the entertainment. Because of it, I’m going to be a bit generous and give you an upgrade, because as an ad for an actual product, this is a fail. – Coach Class Cabin
34. Kia Forte – Hotbots
An ad with nice enough execution can keep your attention. Here the set design, the crisp sci-fi lighting, and the hotbot are all first-rate, and make you lean forward. Sadly there was no real idea behind it, no story, the ad wasn’t sufficiently branded, it didn’t touch you in any meaningful way (it wasn’t even funny) it was just…ok. Empty calories, basically. Made for an amusing 30 seconds or so, a good background as you dipped into the salsa and grabbed another beer. But will you remember that it was for Kia Forte, or even for Kia? No you won’t. Maybe you’ll remember that it was for a blue car. Not enough. As I said earlier, those in the automotive industry have it real hard when it comes to advertising – Coach Class Cabin
Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!
Why I like it: Beautiful, stop-you-in-your-tracks craft. There’s nothing I don’t love about this series of ads. From the bold colors, to the geometry of the cells, to the sense of depth and texture, to the whimsical drawings which you could stare for ever, to the art direction of the product placement and tagline, to the tagline itself. This ad tells the product story in a way that is simple, clear, and extremely interesting. Well done! The only knock against it might be that this idea is not completely new, but regular consumers won’t know and won’t care, because this level of execution speaks for itself.
Every one of the ads. If it was awesome, it’s here. If it sucked, it’s also here.
We’re back for year two of our Super Bowl review! No anemic top 5 list here, we’re looking at all of them, in the order they appeared. See for yourself what all the fuss was about! The review will come out in 3 parts, be sure to check out part 3 for a wrap-up including the Adboardingpass favorites.
Ground rules for our review:
1. Budweiser Black Crown – Coronation
Baggage Cargo Hold – Wtf? Weak opener, Bud! I swear I thought this was some kind of SNL skit (Sprockets, anyone?), everyone dressed in black and trying so painfully hard to seem uber-cool. And the product at the center of it all (including the label) is just so uninspired, which doesn’t help. (this is Budweiser, people – don’t try to be so premium). Anyway, I could have left with just a minor distaste…but then came that toast at the end. Seriously? When people think your ultra-cool ad for your ultra-hip beer is a…comedy sketch – not good.
2. M&M’s – Love Ballad
Coach Class Cabin – Meh. I find this campaign so tired, so uninspiring, so unappetizing, so overly-reliant on a good comedic hook…that I was ready to hate this ad. (the lack of appetite appeal/persuasion is a real killer!) But I’ve got to admit the comedic hook made me smile, and the song was great because it built anticipation. Nice entertainment, but not much more than that.
3. Audi: Prom
Coach Class Cabin – I liked it, it told an interesting story, and it was beautifully shot (loved the reaction shot on the girl after being kissed). But I don’t think the message “Bravery. It’s what defines us” fully closes the loop in my brain. What exactly does bravery have to do with cars? Bravery in design? Bravery in technology? Bravery in driving 100 miles an hour after a party when you’re 16 years old and just kissed a girl and got your ass kicked? It almost makes sense…but not really.
4. Hyundai: Team
Coach Class Cabin – Ah, music. Such a critical, powerful tool (and all-too-often ignored). This ad had me from second 5 when the Quiet Riot song came on (yes, I’m old enough to know that it was Quiet Riot!). Marry this with some really funny vignettes and you get the sense that we’re really building towards some great, climactic finale. Pity then when it totally fizzles away into nothing. Can you tell me what this had to do with the car? (hint: they do say it, but it’s waaay too subtle, I had to watch it twice.) Can you tell me what car it was for? I didn’t think so. A shame then, all that interest piqued for nothing. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t mean anything for Hyundai. Which I suppose was their intent.
5. GoDaddy.com – Perfect Match
Business Class Cabin – Wow! I’m kind of stunned, because I actually love this ad! I was prepared to hate it, given Godaddy’s customary, sleazy mediocrity. But…from a technical standpoint this ad was really good. Totally grabs your attention (Bar Rafaeli? Hello!) and delivers the advertising cliche of “the best of both worlds” in a manner that is strikingly clear, and oddly mesmerizing. Gratuitous, yes. Slightly off-putting, ok. But also mind-searing, ballsy in its ambition, sufficiently branded (through use of Danica Patrick), and very clear in its message. Honestly, not bad. Best one so far. Crazy times.
6. Doritos – Goat Sale
Baggage Cargo Hold – I don’t get this at all. I don’t mean that I don’t get the ad…I just don’t get why they would make this and put it on during the Super Bowl. It’s funny in a quirky way, yes. And it has some humorous peaks (the “aieee” upon discovering the empty cupboard). But, really? It seems like something the high school advertising club would come up with, no better. No idea, beyond the idea – no real branding (even though the bags are everywhere), no message, no…nothing. I don’t know. For all the consumption that happened on-screen, this one left me strangely empty. Missed opportunity.
7. Best Buy: Asking Amy
Coach Class Cabin – Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler these days? She’s fantastic, and this ad is 99% her and her zany charisma. Such a shame that there’s only 1% left for Best Buy, then. It’s a bit of a desperate move, and sadly it’s much too common when celebrities are featured. Like the drowning castaway, you latch yourself on to someone else’s appeal and hope to ride out the storm. But in this case it’s much too late. What can you say about Best Buy after viewing this? That it still exists, that it has things, the color blue, helpful people…that’s about it. Not enough! Best Buy needs more from an ad than this, and they weren’t able to get it. Thank you for the Amy mini-comedy clip, though, I enjoyed it.
8. Budweiser Black Crown – Celebration
Baggage Cargo Hold – When you have the privilege of multiple buys in the Super Bowl you get a cumulative, building effect, which can be great. The problem of course if that if your first ad is a clunker (see no.1) then you’re already starting the second with 1 strike against you. And the second one didn’t disappoint. What a bunch of garbage: faked hipster “fun” is so painful to watch and this is no exception. And that guy that says “our kind of beer” at the end once again takes this into SNL parody territory. Really? Is this really your kind of beer? A whole warehouse of uber-cool, multi-racial, urban twenty/thirty somethings, all rocking it out table-top-style to some premium Budweiser? Sorry, but no. People like the ones in this ad haven’t touched a Bud in years. You know it. They know it.
9. Coca-Cola – Security Cameras
Business Class Cabin – This one is not new at all, it was a winner from Argentina at Cannes last year (where it got a strong round of applause when screened in front of hundreds of jaded creatives, so that says a lot). But most people in the US will not have seen it, so good move by Coke to play it, as I think it’s a borderline classic. Inspiring message, superb execution (and simply sublime song choice! by the time Roger Hudson sings “see the man with the lonely eyes” I’ve got goosebumps), aptly branded, with emotional impact and a praiseworthy point of view…just a great “manifesto” ad. “First Class Cabin” for sure for any first-time viewers. I did not give it the upgrade only because I had seen it many times before.
10. Oreo – Whisper Fight
Business Class Cabin – A fresh, delightfully quirky take on a brand whose TV advertising is normally quite safe. Not only different and entertaining, but with the product at the very core (a staple of Oreo advertising). I selected it as the Adboardingpass Ad of the Day for February 5, because I think it’s an example of raising the stakes and continuous tinkering that leads to breakthrough ideas. Click on the link for wild speculation on what the creative process for this may have looked like.
11. Toyota RAV4 – Wish Granted
Coach Class Cabin – Thoroughly lean-forward-in-your-seat enjoyable. Funny and imaginative. Yet, much like the Hyundai ad (No.4), it felt unconnected to the car in any meaningful way. What car was it for? And what is special about it? In the Super Bowl, being entertaining gets you far, farther than many actually. But it’s just not enough – you’ve got to persuade me at least a little bit, you’ve got to sell to me, whether it be rationally or emotionally. This ad was a decent attempt, but ultimately a misfire: my one wish would have been a little persuasion thrown into the mix.
12. Doritos – Fashionista Daddy
Baggage Cargo Hold – Like the Bud ads, this one is building on awful…and it did not disappoint the second time around. Amateurish, predictable, poorly executed, poor link to the product…I mean, seriously. I have to check and see if these were user submitted because they look like they were made by stoned college kids, but even if they were, someone had to approve their airing – I don’t get it. When there is nothing left, all that is left is the joke. The first joke (dad) is stupid, the second joke (friends) is stupid, the third joke (wedding dress) is mildly amusing. Not nearly enough.
13. Calvin Klein – Concept
Coach Class Cabin – Calvin Klein has been doing basically the same ad since the 90s: black-and-white, sculpted bodies, sharp angles, etc. And you know what? It worked back then and it still works now, so kudos to them for realizing that “what ain’t broke don’t need fixin'”. I liked this more than the David Beckham ad for H&M last year, because this one sells what it sells (underwear, sex, brand, aesthetics, youth) and does it reasonably well. The H&M ad managed to sell…David Beckham.
14. Cars.com – Wolf
Coach Class Cabin – Nice. Nothing too fancy…a core product benefit (no-drama sales) wrapped around a joke. Well-executed, it makes you chuckle, register the point, and then you move on. In baseball terms this would be a solid hit to get on base. Nothing too dramatic, no swinging for the fences, and no strike-outs either. Just minding the basics. This is an ad that you just know was focus-group researched to death. Lacking in ambition, but no brand manager or agency will get fired over this. etc. It stands out thanks to the general mediocrity of the other ads so far.
15. Bud Light – Journey
Baggage Cargo Hold – I’m a little stunned by how bad the Budweiser ads have been so far, considering they were some of my favorites last year. It’s hard for me to not get too snarky here, but when I see probably 1 million dollars in production and many more in media spent on…nothing…well it’s just kind of a downer. What is the story? What is the point?Journey to what? What does Bud Light have to do with this? And…Stevie Wonder, seriously? He stopped being cool in the early 80s, which is a really long time ago – who is Bud Light trying to appeal to here, exactly? I’m genuinely mystified at how ads like these don’t get killed along the way, when so many good ideas do.
16. Godaddy.com – Yourbigidea.co
Business Class Cabin – Love it! A fresh, creative idea, with the product offering/promise right at the core of the action, and a delightful execution full of those little touches that make the funny into funnier: from the accents, to the over-the-top set design, to the zany dialogue at the end. Just great. For those not familiar with Godaddy, they’ve been making some pretty awful Super Bowl ads in the past years, so it’s a shock to the system to see such a solid effort, not to mention two in a row. It fills one with hope – the very next ad you do could be “the one”!
17. Milk PEP – Morning Run
Baggage Cargo Hold – Not to get too highbrow, but a line from Shakespeare popped into my head as this ad concluded: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player…That struts and frets his hour upon the stage…And then is heard no more: it is a tale…Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,…Signifying nothing.“ I’m all for mindless entertainment, especially during the Super Bowl. But I also feel like when you throw so many millions at it (celebrity, CGI, 1 min duration, soundtrack, media, etc.), there’s got to be a little more than that. After this ad has passed, what remains for Milk PEP is…nothing.
18. Hyundai Sonata – Stuck
Business Class Cabin – Fab. The Adboardingpass Ad of the Day for Feb 4, before we knew it was going to be in the Super Bowl. A lovely and entertaining display of creativity that succeeds on all the right fronts: first and foremost by standing out from all the automotive clichés through the use of humor. The product benefit (acceleration) is then illustrated in a way that is completely clear and easy to relate to: no RPM counts and performance demos here…just the everyday unhappy feeling of being stuck behind something. It all ads up to an ad that has a good chance to be remembered, to inform, and to persuade. Easier said than done, believe me!
19. VW – Get Happy
Coach Class Cabin – Get happy? Umm no. I’m not happy about this ad. VW has a superb pedigree in the last years when it comes to advertising, including the “big Super Bowl ad”. But last year, and this one, I think they just missed the mark. Kudos for the courage to throw an “attention grenade” with the whole white-guy-talking-Jamaican thing, but alas I’d guess 50% were offended, 30% felt somewhat strange about it for the first 30 seconds, and 20% liked it and went with it. Not good enough payoff for the attention you generate. Congrats on the lovely red happy car, but alas I think it arrives too late into the proceedings. Congrats on the catchy and pop-culture infused song, but alas it also was too little, too late. As you can see, I give them credit, and give them the benefit of the doubt. But it wasn’t their best effort, not anywhere close to it. Too bad, because they’ve led us to expect more.
20. Coca-Cola: Chase
Baggage Cargo Hold – Oh boy. [shakes his head slowly] I have to honestly say that I didn’t much care for this ad (full disclosure: I wasn’t involved with this nor know anyone that was – but I do work on Coca-Cola company brands). There are a few brands and agencies (eg: Coca-Cola, VW, W+K, Ogilvy, BBH, Fred&Farid) that have earned a benefit of the doubt with me. As such, I guess we should wait and see how this adventure turns out, since this minute long ad is clearly just a set-up for a conclusion dictated via social media. But it’s going to have to be something epic to make up for a “wasted” minute. Looks very cinematic…but boy is it boring, despite their best efforts with the glitter cannon(!) And the social media “you vote and decide the end” would be so interesting and breakthrough…if it were 2008. I want to like it as a consumer, especially after the grand “Security Cam” ad (No.9). But they’re not making it easy for me.
**We’ve come to the end of part 1. Kind of odd, with Bestdaddy standing out in a good way, Budweiser sinking, and no First Class boarding passes being issued.**
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Why I like it: A fresh, delightfully quirky take on a brand whose TV advertising is normally quite safe. How did this happen? I don’t know what went on at W+K (who pitched for and won this single-tvc project), but let’s imagine:
Creative team, day 1: We’ve nailed it!! It’s a debate: people who like the cream part vs. people who like the cookie part!
ECD: Yeah, but that’s been done to death. Miller beer…even Oreo did it a couple of years ago. This is the Super Bowl, folks! Think harder.
Creative team, day 3: Bam! Thank you! We’ve got it! It’s a debate between the cookie people and the cream people, and it gets totally violent and out of control! Cops come in, a big riot, it’ll rock!
ECD: Not bad, but it feels a little gratuitous, a little out of nowhere. What’s interesting about the violence? There’s something there, but it’s nowhere near ready. Think harder.
Creative team, day 7: Boom shaka-laka! That’s what am talkin’ about, bitch, knowaimsain? Check it check it: It’s a debate between the cream-ers and the cookie-ers that quickly escalates into an all-out riot, and…wait for it…it takes place in a library!! The cognitive dissonance between the location and the action is what gets us over the top! Thank you for pushing us before, or we wouldn’t have nailed this twist! (at this point the creatives have secretly sworn to quit and start over if the idea is not approved.)
ECD: Hmmm. Yes. Nice. But…its…not quite there yet. Something is missing. This is good, even very good. We could shoot this tomorrow. But we need outstanding. How do we get to outstanding? What is the variable that we’re missing? Think harder.
Creative team, day 10: Ummm. Well, we were thinking, we’ve got this riot going on in a library, and then we though – libraries, you’re not only supposed to be still, but you’re supposed to be quiet, or the librarian gets angry…so then we thought, what if we make this whole riot happen in whispers? It’s just a small thing, and kind of silly, but people would relate, and we think that maybe…
That burst of inspiration that makes an ad special…it can happen at any time, and can come from anyone. The trick is to keep pushing and never be satisfied. Always tinker, always improve. All of the successful creatives I’ve met share that trait, that “divine discontent” with the work. Here’s to the pushers and tinkerers!
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Why I like it: “The turbo version of this car gives you an extra burst of acceleration. Now go and make us an ad so people will remember this, understand it, and care about it.” That’s where creativity comes in, and it’s interesting to see how it plays out in this ad. I believe they succeed, first and foremost by standing out from all the automotive clichés through the use of humor. This will get you noticed and remembered, and without out recall nothing else matters. The acceleration benefit is illustrated in a way that is completely clear and easy to relate to: no RPM counts and performance demos here…just the everyday unhappy feeling of being stuck behind something. This should give you comprehension. And finally, will people care? Well, this is the hardest one, and there are no guarantees because you cannot control people’s desires: you just have to trust that if people are in the market for a car, and they remember you, and they understood what you offered, and it was something that matched their needs…then of course they’re going to care! Nobody said it was easy, but if advertisers do their part well (achieve recall, comprehension, interest, etc.) that’s a job well done!
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Why I like it: Ah yes, it is Superbowl season. For the next couple of weeks we can expect to see expensive, super-produced masterpieces, and expensive, super-produced disasters. For the former, we’ll think “see, quality doesn’t come cheap!” For the latter we’ll reflect “see, money can’t overcome boring ideas!” Our attention will be distracted by the glitz, the money, the production values. But in the end, we’ll realize that the same core principle (ie. “a great story, well told”) still applies. I love this Mercedes ad. Exquisitely produced, and oozing opulence (superb casting, epic soundtrack…nothing came cheap, all of it worthwhile). But in the end, it only truly works because a)there’s a great product truth (value for money) conveyed through a clever twist, b)there’s a great looking product front and center throughout, and c)the story is entertaining to watch, once you start you can’t take your eyes off the screen. The money is justified by the idea…the idea is amplified with the money. That’s how you make a good Superbowl ad. Easier said than done!