COLUMN: There were more than two thousand seconds of commercial messages during the Super Bowl, each one costing around a hundred thousand bucks. And that’s just for the media buy; it’s not counting the production budgets for the spots. Well, that may be one reason why have-not nations hate us while wanting to be us.
There are other grounds for everyone to hate us. Hell, after seeing most of these ads, I hate us. What is more to the point, I am ashamed to admit that I have anything to do with the advertising profession. Other than making money from it, of course.
Okay, on to the ads.
Rogaine Hair Growth Scam Foam
The procession of hype got off to a tacky start with a cheesy bit of sleaze. This spot made everyone in the room say “eeauw.”
Callaway Golf Clubs
Nifty production with nice graphics and lots of fast cuts. The whole thing screams “high tech” but there’s no way to tell what the hell is going on. Why is the golf club good? Why should anyone care? Around here, we believe everyone who plays golf should be quickly killed (except for those who feel their death should be as slow as possible) so it’s difficult to give this ad the benefit of the doubt.
The Korean carmaker bought a whole fleet of commercials, all featuring cool and assured voiceover work from Jeff Bridges. The first spot offered some nice sheet metal shots. No big deal, but the car looked great. Another ad showed part of the automaker’s painting process. It made the Sonata look like it had about three inches of coating and convinced me to go see the car up close. In a wonderful change-up, one of their spots showed Brett Favre’s acceptance speech for the 2020 MVP award. As we were chuckling, Mr. Bridges gently reminded us that we cannot know about ten years in the future except for the fact that Hyundai’s 10-year warranty will still be in effect. Wonderful.
Bud Light, Budweiser, Michelob
Also purchasing a passel of promo announcements was Anheuser-Busch, the beer-making giant (nearly 50% of the U.S. market with 100 different brands). One of their Bud Light spots featured a house constructed out of the product, which probably made some folks laugh, in the same way that some people still laugh at SNL sketches. Another spot was a parody of “Lost,” which might be entertaining for those who watch “Lost.” One commercial was pretty cool, with party-goers’ voices filtered through an Antares Auto-Tune. A Michelob Light ad showcased Lance Armstrong and, well, I don’t know what the hell was going on in the ad (or I just was so unimpressed that I can’t recall any of it). One Budweiser spot seemed to suggest cross-species dating between a horse and bull; not certain what this has to do with beer. Another spot for Budweiser had people forming a human bridge to allow a Bud delivery truck to cross a stream. Why? How? Can you say “listen to the sound of crickets” while we wait for the nervous laughter? I mean, seriously, guys, WTF? People, why do you purchase products made by firms that hold you in such contempt? (And BTW, what’s with using Elmer Bernstein’s score for “Stripes” on the spot? It’s brilliant music, but for the licensing fee you could have hired an up-and-coming composer to create something new.)
The idea of Betty White and Abe Vigoda playing on tackle football teams in the park is humorous. The idea. But not the script, direction, editing, or acting. Snickers left a bad taste in one’s mouth.
Pam and Tim Tebow
Here’s the controversial spot for anti-family-planning that rightwingnuts at CBS approved for some reason. Best line from the party when this spot finished: “If only Pam had been aborted we wouldn’t have to endure this.” (Image from spot, shown at left.)
Wow, talk about stupid ads. If ever there was a way to tell people you are an antiquated, out-of-date, know-nothing firm, it would be to use a nursery rhyme rap with irrelevant spokespeople like half-dead ex-Chicago Bears football players.
Hey, look, they’re re-releasing the Kevin Costner movie! No? Oh, that must mean the Mel Brooks “Men in Tights” spoof is coming back with a portentous soundtrack. No? Well, it couldn’t be that Ridley Scott has now descended even lower than when he made a “Silence of the Lambs” sequel and is now doing a . . . dare I say it? . . . remake! How the mighty have fallen.
Several spots, all snarky, but some got laughs, such as the one where a little kid slaps a would-be suitor to his mom. Others, such as a guy eating while inside a coffin, had the effect of equating Doritos with the urge to vomit.
I like cheesecake, pretty girls, and double entendres as much as the next guy, but most of the GoDaddy.com spots are just so-so. They work at getting your attention, but they tell you little about the company. However, I use GoDaddy.com for my web site hosting and since they provide superb customer service every time I call with a question, I am going to give them a pass. (Now, if they could only get THAT point across in one of their commercials.)
These folks are a puzzle to me. They have a product that interests me and almost every guy who drives a car or truck. They spend a ton of money producing their commercials. Yet they never show their tires or demonstrate any product benefit. What’s up with that? A speeding truck skids and spins to a halt. A speeding car safely stops on a slick highway. Yeah, so? Unless you tell me why a Bridgestone tire does this more efficiently, effectively, more safely, or for less money, I’m going to buy Goodyear or Michelin or Continental or Pirelli or anybody that tells me something about tread, traction, handling, etc.
Ultra-successful guy’s life is shown but it turns out he’s nervous about buying a car. So Cars.com is his choice to resolve that problem. It made me smile and it showed how their service might help me in the future. Of course, since it doesn’t feature people acting stupidly, it won’t win any audience polls. But it will HELP SELL THE PRODUCT, which some people in this industry seem to have overlooked.
We are as grossed out as the spot’s narrator as he tries to avoid looking too closely at the work force showing up in underwear for “casual day.” So I’d try to find another job, too. But how does this demonstrate that Careerbuilder.com is the place for the job search? Hey, maybe he landed this bad job through that site.
Immediately following the underwear brigade was the “I wear no pants” patrol. It’s like when you open the newspaper movie section and see ads for “Legion” and “Tooth Fairy” and they both feature a guy with large white wings.
Dove for Men
YGTBFKM. This abomination appears designed to drive men away from the products. Perhaps the idea is to convince women they should buy this crap for their husbands and boyfriends.
Oh wait, now YGTBFKM. Really, this must be seen to be believed. The message of the commercial is: whipped guys drive Dodge.
Great music track and nice shots of the vehicle. Okay, it’s not award-winning and won’t score high in the polls. But it will make me check out the car. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that was the point of doing a commercial.
Living Spaces and Carl’s Jr.
Ahh, local dreck bringing everything down a notch with their cheapo craptacular approach to advertising.
Wait, here’s a national spot that is confusing and stupid. Something about animals watching auto sales on television? The marketing team was combining Jim Beam with lysergic acid diethylamide.
Okay, there’s this violin-playing beaver. It’s funny already, right? Yeah, so, he plays for tips in the street and then uses Monster.com to move up in the world, until he plays Carnegie Hall and ends up cavorting in a hot tub with a predatory blonde.
There were several million more commercials in the broadcast, but they made me so sick to my stomach that I stopped watching. Anyone who endures that much crap is a moron or owns stock in one of the advertising firms. Ain’t that America.