Advertising Industry Newswire COLUMN: The ads in the 2012 Super Bowl had big production values and mostly good music. Missing were strong concepts and marketing savvy. With one exception, the Super Sunday telecast was a festival of lame, dumb, and insulting advertising. In other words, business as usual.

Possibly the only profession with a lower approval rating than Congress is advertising. And no wonder. On a daily basis, we are assaulted by hyped-up messages that are dim-witted, abusive, hurtful, discourteous, annoying, and blatantly offensive. And then there are the really bad ones.

Some people get quite excited by the yearly media event called the Stupor Bowl. Wait, that’s not right. Super Bowl. And there are people who say the event attracts a few viewers because of the commercials. That’s true in the same way a car accident attracts a few viewers because of the traffic jams.

My goal in this article was to pay attention as soon as one of the encrusted-by-make-up announcers said “Hello Suckers.” Wait, no, that’s Texas Guinan’s line; I meant as soon as they said “Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday.”

Then, I was going to keep watching until the post-game clips of cretins burning cars in the streets of the winning and losing cities. But I just couldn’t do it. Sorry, apologies, mea culpa, etc. Look, other than a superb Chrysler commercial that was uplifting for the company and for America, there were just too many horrible ad moments for one human being to handle. Therefore, here are the heights of the depths. . .


Consider this concept: The headlights of the Audi are so similar to the sun that they kill vampires. Seriously? Wow. Well, considering how dim-witted Americans seem to be (have you been watching the presidential debates lately?), maybe this idea will work. Because, after all, who wouldn’t select a luxury automobile based on the strength of its headlamps? The song on the commercial’s soundtrack is “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen. Within the idiotic premise of the spot, the track is a pretty good choice. Since I see this as a comedic spot, I would have found “Flashlight” by Parliament more fun, but I admit that the cool angst of E&TB fits well with the fake-teeth-and-incense ambience.


About eleventeen spots in the broadcast. Did any of them give you a reason to purchase their products? Not really. The most interesting marketing development involves their “new” brew, something called Bud Light Platinum, which has six percent alcohol (didn’t see this mentioned in any of the spots), meaning they’re going after the Beer Blotto Brigade (obviously a dumb demographic considering that distilled spirits will get you there much faster without forcing you to urinate as often). But back to the POWer beer with the odd name. Using the word “platinum” in the beer category fits a trend discussed by Tiffany Hsu in an excellent Los Angeles Times article on people leaning toward specialty or micro-brews. What Anheiser-Busch InBev doesn’t seem to realize is that “Budweiser” is never, ever, ever going to fit in with words like platinum, high-end, upscale, specialty, etc. They’ll have to fake-out the public with a phony micro-brew name like “Blue Moon.” Oh wait, that’s the spurious concoction of MillerCoors. And I seem to have really gotten away from the topic of Budweiser. Probably because I’ve been sipping too much Absinthe to get through this assignment. Anyway, they also had an incredibly well produced/directed spot that appeared to tell the history of America through beer. I think. Anyway, it had those ugly horses that Bud always uses. Disagreeable-looking animals named Clyde something. Hmm, where’s the Absinthe? Must. Distract. Self.


Respect. Seriously, let’s give it up for ad guys who figured out how to improve the image of a car company long known for selling clunky boats-on-wheels. I have lived my whole life knowing that there’s nothing attractive about Cadillacs but this spot actually makes the ATS Sport Sedan look decent. And let’s face it, “sport” is not a word you’d normally associate with Caddy. The strong music track helps.


Eeeuuuwwwwwww! This is the commercial where an alien growth sprouts from a guy’s shoulder blade and on the end of the spronging protuberance is a smaller version of the man’s head. As if that isn’t gross enough, the miniature noggin performs a piss-poor parody of what the commercial makers call “soul music.” This piece of drivel is a top contender for the Gross-Out Trophy, which should be shaped to look just like the quivering superfluous neck-and-cranium. Rarely has the term “head” had such an evil connotation.


Silverado pick-up trucks and their owners are the only survivors of the end-of-the-world. It’s unclear how this storyline ties-in with a not-too-highly-regarded truck, but at least the script is humorous and demographically on-target (every truck owner thinks his vehicle is tough enough to withstand the apocalypse). And using Barry Manilow on the soundtrack is a hoot. In their Sonic spot, the car is turned into a prop for some extreme sports publicity stunts. OK Go music works okay. For the whole campaign, ya gotta admit that Tim Allen gives good voiceover. He adds a touch of quiet, assured dignity (which probably dissipates the moment you realize “Hey, that’s Tim Allen talking!”)


Amazing spot that makes you want to shout to the heavens and salute the flag. This is two minutes of understated but ultimately explosive power. Uplifting, inspirational, and patriotic, the narrative grabs you and makes you think how you can join in the new march into the future of our nation. The commercial also touches on the good side of capitalism, something that we have not been seeing much lately. Wonderful work.


In Part One: The Blandness, badly-animated polar bears watch the game. In Part Two: The Pointless, they juggle bottles of Coke. In Part Three: The Lameness, they make reference to the score of the game. The spots are worthless except as bathroom breaks. The only winners here are the hacks who got paid to work on these pieces of tripe. I’m not much of a soft-drink user but this would sure make me consider Pepsi.


Not sure which one of the consumer-generated ideas was the winner but I enjoyed the one featuring a snotty kid taunting a wheelchair-bound woman and a little kid in a sling. It’s silly, but funny. And since it plays on the intense desire of fat Americans for salty snacks, it actually has marketing logic, something that appears to be missing from most other advertising these days. Nice choice of music (an instrumental version of “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto”). There also was one with a dog killing a cat and bribing the witness with a bag of chips. And another with a girl covering herself with chips to entice her boyfriend to, well, we don’t get to see but I can tell you from experience that it’s really messy and not much fun after the first couple of bites.

General Electric

In one spot, slack-jawed yokels are working on assembly-lines. What’s odd is that the idea of people working in a noisy warehouse is presented as something miraculous, as if Henry Ford had risen from the grave to re-invent his idea just for the suits at G-E to go out and use it for the benefit of all mankind. Soundtrack is hilarious: a kind of “Deliverance” instrumental that should send people screaming into the night. In a second spot, slightly-less slack-jawed yokels are building turbine engines. Terrific cinematography and a nice soundtrack, but halfway through, the script does a freak-out and we’re suddenly in a bar where G-E workers are taking credit for beer because their turbine engines were used in the brewing process. Which may be true, I suppose, but this is a very big “So What” moment.


In the Stupid Sweepstakes, we have several front-runners, including Honda with a CR-V spot starring a bored and out-of-it Matthew Broderick. He’s clearly only collecting a paycheck, but what’s the production company’s excuse? Their work is a limp, by-the-numbers “homage” to John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Perfunctory images, slack timing, bad jokes, insulting script. For the soundtrack, they went with Yello’s “Oh Yeah.” Yup, the boring choice. Just think, they could have used “Love Missile F1-11” (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), “Bad” (Big Audio Dynamite), “Taking the Day Off” (General Public), “Radio People” (Zapp), and, of course, “Twist and Shout” (that group Paul McCartney was in before Wings). The fact that the auto isn’t shown much in the commercial may tell us more about the product than they intended.


Among their half-ton of ads was one with some hysterically funny Roadrunner cartoon-style mayhem involving a cheetah and the Veloster. “Trust us, it’s fast,” says Jeff Bridges. Only an extended version of the spot would give enough time to view the vehicle properly, but what there was of it looked good. Maybe the slight glimpse is okay considering that this is part of what seems to be a nine thousand commercial campaign for the vehicle (and considering it’s called a Veloster, a huge campaign is a necessity). Unfortunately, another of their spots has their employees singing and it is embarrassing. Another, for the Genesis Coupe R-Spec, is as puerile as the car’s name.


Wow! Rock music, beautiful babe, explosions, martial arts, romance novel cover designs brought to life, and more! On the soundtrack are The Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman” and a Motley Crue song. The production is amazing! Oh, and all this for some little plastic-looking dork car. Rule of thumb: the bigger the production, the less valuable the automobile.


In a medieval setting, Melanie Amaro and Elton John made me grin. And at the end of the spot, when Elton is in the dungeon with Flavor Flav, I cracked up. Thanks, guys, I needed that. (Even more amazing, I actually chuckled at the other spot they made, too. That’s the one with, gulp, Regis. Just goes to show ya, great timing in directing and editing can bring off miracles.)


Sure, we’d all like nothing better than to have some company kick Apple’s butt now that it’s known what a greedy evil cabal they are, but unfortunately the silly marketing for Samsung isn’t going to help the situation. While it’s fun to hear Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” on the soundtrack, you still have to wonder why the spot shows us nothing but a line of boring people. Although there is a half-hearted attempt at a teaser at the end, the sum total of the ad is “enh.” All I can do is grudgingly admire the con job the agency pulled on the client in getting them to fund this piece of compost. Ironically, it’s well-photographed and directed, but like so much of today’s advertising, the lack of a marketing concept means the filmmakers are putting a spit-shine on a turd. But wait, that was the “preview” spot. The “real” spot for the new Galaxy is the exact opposite in approach: big, ugly, bombastic, silly, and boneheaded. C’mon, Samsung, stop making crap commercials. Don’t you know we’re rooting for you?


When you think “4-wheel drive,” you just naturally think of rap music, right? If so, the use of 50 Cent on the new spot for the Kizashi makes perfect sense. Either way, this is a nicely-made product demo. Basically, we’re out in the barren wasteland (See the ice! See the snow! See the nothingness!) and the Fizzozshee or whatever has no trouble roaring around as if it’s on a test track, which it probably was before the CGI crews got hold of the footage. The entertainment aspect is actually kind of neat: a sled dog team is being given a ride by their owner. A word on that: the owner is an obese Eskimo (or perhaps it was a Sumo wrestler? it’s hard for us ‘Murikuns to know). Whatever, it was cliche casting.


Their spot for the “reinvented” Camry was, um, calm. However, I’m not believing anything they say about the car ’cause THEY ARE NOT SHOWING ME THE CAR. Still, the spot was entertaining. Drapes made of pizza, rain that makes you slim, a baby that doesn’t poop; all good. (And props for using “poop” in the script.) But poor Richard Strauss, having the opening to his “Also Sprach Zarathustra” used for the umpteenth time in a commercial. Just shows how terrific a music supervisor Stanley Kubrick was for putting this track into his “2001: A Space Odyssey” way back in 1968. Another spot, with memories that people associate with the Camry, was a tear-jerker. Effective as a story, silly as an ad for a car THEY DON’T SHOW.


Spot #1: Dogs. Dogs barking. Dogs barking forever. Dogs barking forever in the vain hope that eventually it will seem clever. “I mean, you can’t lose with cute animals in your commercial, right?” Certainly, someone at the ad agency and/or the car maker’s marketing department made that statement. Unfortunately, they were wrong. The take-away message from this spot is: VW makes poor decisions. Which makes you wonder if they made that kind of poor decision in the auto designs, manufacturing practices, safety features, etc. Just asking. Glad you guys made me consider this, come to think of it. Who owns VW now, anyway, Monsanto? Spot #2: A fat dog gets into shape as we hear James Brown getting down on “Get Up Offa That Thing.” Fun! Plus, it’s two commercials in one as the twist ending puts us in the dive bar of “Star Wars.” How can one agency make such a nifty spot as this and that other one which is such a, well, dog?

Short Takes

1and1dotcom Product demo ad for a site that provides web hosting, site design, etc. A competitor to GoDaddy. Obviously not as eye-catching as babes but more convincing and more business-like.

Act of Valor Movie trailer for a 100-minute commercial for a video game.

Acura Jerry Seinfeld, in the lead role, has great comedy timing. Jay Leno, in a cameo, does not. Entertaining despite Leno. Didn’t show the NSX much, which is a shame ’cause it looks terrific.

The Avengers Movie trailer for a 100-minute commercial for a video game.

Battleship Movie trailer for a 100-minute commercial for a video game.

BMW Seems to tout the car’s ability to deliver text and e-mail while you drive. I prefer it if people concentrated on their driving. “The Ultimate Texting Machine?” Come on, people.

Bridgestone Their spots make me think buying their tires would lead to death or dismemberment on the highway.

BelVita Some sort of parody spot for an obviously fake “breakfast cheese” item. Funny idea, poorly executed. Besides, who would be stupid enough and gastronomically-challenged enough to buy hogslop like this? Oh, wait. Americans.

CareerBuilders This is the campaign with monkeys screwing up in the workplace. Yes, coworkers are jerks and assholes, but why will it be different when you change jobs? That’s why I freelance, where the only jerk around my office is me.

Century 21 What’s that? You say you don’t know how to market a service industry? No problem! Just use a dumb-ass concept and hire some second-tier celebs! Easy!

Dannon Overly cutesy boy/girl tease leads to violence. It’s for something called Oikos Greek yogurt. One of the two saccharine actors is a rapper named Stay Moes. (Okay, it’s John Stamos.)

The Dictator Movie trailer for the next film from Sasha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles. They seem to be the only people who can make social commentary hysterically funny.

Downy Mean Joe Green and Amy Sedaris “spoof” a great ad from yesteryear. This virtually defines inanity. (Ad agency guy: “Hey, since we don’t have a marketing platform, let’s just do a comedy spot without any comedy! It’ll be ironic!”)

E*Trade Talking baby campaign. You either like it or you don’t. I find it amusing, but it makes me stay far away from E*Trade. Not sure how it plays with the hoi polloi.

Fiat Car as sex object. Hate to admit it, but the ad actually works.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie trailer with Bruce Willis and The Rock in a 100-minute commercial for a video game. If this is the sort of thing you like, then you will like this sort of thing.

GoDaddydotcom Good old-fashioned “sex sells” approach. No subtlety whatsoever. Babes (Danica Patrick and the Pussycat Dolls) in tight costumes. Gotta love it, right?

H&M Homo-eroticism using David Beckham’s tattoo-defiled body. If the cinematographer of this spot was hired by GoDaddy, we’d be on to something! Interesting oldie for the music: “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by The Animals. H&M consistently uses great music.

Hulu Nicely-produced but insignificant spot starring Will somebody-or-other who totally believes he’s funny. Which is kind of funny, I guess.

The Hunger Games Exciting movie trailer for a film that shows what the world will be like if republicans are elected.

Infinity Uninspiring. Check out the Chrysler spot to see how it should be done.

John Carter Movie trailer for a 100-minute commercial for a video game.

Lexus Great art direction but not much auto in the ad. They’re calling the car the “2013” GS model. More proof that auto marketers think we’re morons.

The Lorax Movie trailer for a kiddie cartoon. And yes, it will probably be a video game.

M&Ms I never know what to say about this campaign. Sure, it’s aimed at six-year-olds, but that’s how old we feel when thinking about M&Ms, so maybe they’re brilliant at marketing.

MetLife Cartoon characters (lots from Loony Toons) are milling around, doin’ stuff, and, um, I don’t know why.

Sketchers I like the Sketchers shoes I own. This spot (bulldog outraces greyhounds because of his running shoes) didn’t make me too embarrassed to admit that. So, okay then.

Star Wars Episode One The Phantom Menace Now Re-Released in 3D to Get More of Your Money Title tells all.

Swamp People Trailer for TV show on the History channel. Settle back and feel yourself losing I.Q. points every single second you watch. Ahhh, ignorance is bliss. (Or, as these people would put it: “Shoot, ig’nance is, uh, sumthin; I reckon.”)

TaxAct A kid has to pee. And this helps sell a tax preparation service how?

Teleflora Adriana Lima, stockings, pumps, little black dress, come-hither make-up. Tagline: Happy Valentine’s Night. I’m sold. Wonder what women think of the spot? Aw forget that; no I don’t.

The Voice Celebs battle each other before everybody meets in Betty White’s hotel room for some sexy talk. Sure, it’s injudicious, but it’s funny.

Video: Teleflora with Adriana Lima:

Article is Copr. © 2012 by John Scott G (“the G-Man”), and originally published on – all commercial rights reserved.