Super Bowl ads 2013 – the Adboardingpass review! (part 3 of 3)


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

Click here for part 1 and here for part 2

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!

Super Bowl ads 2013 – the Adboardingpass review! (part 2 of 3)

super_bowl_2013 lrEvery 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

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 advertisingCoach Class Cabin


Click here for part 3!

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. – 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, 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.