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:
- 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.
- We’re looking at ALL of them, in the order in which they appeared during the game. We celebrate the good ones…and we heap a little bit of disdain on the bad ones! (exception: I’m not going to include movie trailers, it’s a whole different genre of advertising)
- The criteria used is mostly based on my “crapy…good…or sublime advertising” post.
- 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.
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.**