Ads Anything But Super This Year

Discussion
Feb 04, 2008

By George Anderson

Talk about stinkers. Okay, it’s one person’s opinion, but the vast majority of commercials (not counting those for upcoming movies) run during the Super Bowl yesterday ranged from just awful to mediocre with few exceptions.

The few ads that rose above the bunch (and there weren’t any classics here) included Bridgestone’s “screaming critters,” CareerBuilder.com’s “wish,” Coca-Cola’s “battling balloons,” Fedex’s “pigeons,” Pepsi’s “Justin Timberlake” and Procter & Gamble’s “talking stain” spot for Tide to Go.

Ad Age’s Bob Garfield was also critical of this year’s spots. He wrote on AdAge.com, “If this was supposed to represent the best Madison Avenue has to offer, the losers were not confined to the football game… This was a performance Madison Avenue will not soon live down.”

The spots that Mr. Garfield found worthy enough to give at least three stars included: eTrade’s “baby trader” (baby spitting up was too much for us), Tide to Go and Audi’s takeoff on “The Godfather.”

The top 10 ads as ranked by USA Today’s Ad Meter were:

  1. Budweiser – Dalmation training
    Clydesdale
  2. Fedex – Pigeons
  3. Bridgestone’s – Screaming critters
  4. Doritos – Giant rat beats up guy for chips
  5. Bud Light – Fire-breather
  6. Bud Light – Wine and cheese party
  7. Coke – Battling balloons
  8. Diet Pepsi Max – Stars stop dozing
  9. Planters – Women uses nuts for scent
  10. (Tie) – Tide to Go – Distracting stain
    on shirt;
    SoBe Life Water – Naomi Campbell dances with lizards

Discussion Question: How did this year’s commercials during the Super Bowl
compare to past years? Which commercials did you think were the most effective
this year?

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25 Comments on "Ads Anything But Super This Year"


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Rick Moss
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

My bottom line indicator on the effectiveness of ads is the ability to remember the next day (or a week later) what they were promoting. Clydesdales do that year after year…no denying the brand resonance. Doritos also does a good job – cheese and giant mice – who could forget? (…and kudos for using a non-agency submission.) Our crowd was also very impressed with the Tide talking stain…great idea and also managed to refer to the product attributes, an objective that most of the ads left by the wayside.

I enjoyed the eTrade baby ads, despite the goobers. But I do have to say that the biggest turn-offs came from ads that were just plain unappetizing. When you’re slurping your Super Bowl gumbo, you really don’t want to see throbbing hearts bursting forth from people’s chests. Come on!

Liz Crawford
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

The ads this year were–just ads. Not Super Bowl ads. The event itself has a high bar as the “Super Bowl” of advertising, a standard which can’t be met under today’s YouTube, Flckr, MySpace environment. Why? Because populism may be morally correct, or even predictive, but it doesn’t make for brilliant one-off ads.

To be break-away, we need agency creatives who don’t look to anyone around them for cues. We need ads that break the “fourth wall” and include instant response mechanisms and interactivity in the living rooms across America. Advertising immersion is now possible, and still not used. Do creatives really need to read RetailWire for these ideas? Yikes!

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
14 years 3 months ago

The Dalmatian and Clydesdale continues a long-time theme and symbolism for Budweiser. Like so many before it, I thought the ad this year worked on many levels, among them gender neutrality (Rocky theme for the guys and warm and fuzzy for the ladies watching). But most importantly, Budweiser year after year subtly reinforces and re-insinuates itself into our collective cultural memory without even needing to show a can of beer. Every time someone encounters a pet Dalmatian on the street or a Clydesdale in a parade it is nearly impossible not to automatically think of Budweiser. THAT’s brilliant advertising in my book.

Stew Reynolds
Guest
Stew Reynolds
14 years 3 months ago

I think the point is lost here–the content of the ads is but a small part of advertising during the Super Bowl.

The fact that it’s being discussed world wide the day after says it all–the $3 million spent has wider reaching appeal than just a 30 sec spot during American TV’s biggest day.

Australian TV covered off what ads were shown in their prime time news spots, as well, I’m sure, as other countries around the world.

How many advertising events can do that? (Apart from Steve Jobs and anything he holds up on a stage….)

Dan Desmarais
Guest
Dan Desmarais
14 years 3 months ago

The game was great. The ads were mediocre.

The beverage ads (Bud, Coke) were exciting as usual, but most will be forgotten within a month.

TiVo now means that we can run to the refrigerator or stove during the commercials and know we’re not missing the game.

Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 3 months ago
I have to think that the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake fiasco a few years ago took the wind out of the event completely, flying balloons or not. It’s not been the same and doubt it ever will be. For once, the game actually overshadowed all else. This was the conclusion of my ‘lunch conversation’ with co-workers as well. Few could specifically remember many of the commercials. Most remembered details vividly of the game. Perhaps that is as it should be? Maybe. Perhaps we’ve just lost our sense of humor as a society. Perhaps when an event has become exploited to such an extent it’s lost its ability to be spectacular beyond its original intent–a championship game. That it was. The best story of the game was that of the underdog. This was the case of an underdog that never really was. Unless of course you only paid attention to the commentary. For those that spent millions for ads, I am sure there is re-examining going on today. Maybe. Maybe not. At the very least, I hope… Read more »
Edward Herrera
Guest
Edward Herrera
14 years 3 months ago

I guess I take two positions on the commercials that have already been covered.

Budweiser and PepsiCo are expected to present commercials with a hall of fame body of work. I think the commercials trigger some of the best commercials from the past. Particularly “What’s up” and Diet Pepsi.

The 2 new commercials that actually sold me something were the Victoria’s Secret and Hyundai commercials. I thought the comparison to Mercedes Benz was bold.

MARK DECKARD
Guest
MARK DECKARD
14 years 3 months ago

We really got the short end of the advertising stick in Southern California where the greatest frequency of ads were the dueling tribes. (Opposing political ads about a string of Propositions related to Indian casinos, how much the state is getting and the $140 million plus given in donations to legislators to push the bill).

LOVED the Doritos rat assault and the Clydesdale in training.

A big thumbs down for the Pharma ads and another cheap GoDaddy.com “Exposure” play on the famous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. Thank God for no more of THAT halftime of shame.

But even Sunday’s worst of the worst was welcome relief from the barrage of Super Tuesday Hillary vs. Obama vs. McCain vs. Romney vs. the Indian Casinos ads we’re having to endure.

Great game. I was rooting for the Giant underdogs.

Dave Wendland
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Okay, the Super Bowl was one of the best in recent history. But the ads–yikes–what a way for some to spend $2.5 – $3 million. Although I’m not going to comment on each ad, here’s a quick summary of the Superb, Superfluous and Superficial from one point of view.

The “superb” ones scored a touchdown by viewers…

1) Clydesdale – Dalmatian (Budweiser);

2) Tide – stain on shirt (P&G);

3) Wine & cheese party (Bud Light);

4) Screaming animals (Bridgestone);

The “superfluous” ones neither made an impression nor caused recall…

1) Godfather themed car ad (Audi)- too gross to drive behavior;

2) Flying pigeons (Fed Ex) – too over the top;

3) Justin Timberlake (PepsiStuff) – where’s the value here?

4) Charles Barkley – Dwayne Wade (Tmobile) – worth repeating;

The “superficial” ones not worth the investment…

1) SalesGenie – yikes;

2) Hyundai Genesis – why the Super Bowl?

3) Follow your heart (CareerBuilder) – you’re kidding me, right?

4) UnderArmour – they could have done so much.

Zel Bianco
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Oh come on, the Budweiser ads were good, especially the party one. I thought the Coke Balloon ad was also very good. The rest were mediocre to very bad. Maybe, because the game was so good, the commercials played less of a role this year. No one could have written a better Cinderella story than the NY Giants getting their act together and becoming the championship team.

Doug Fleener
Guest
14 years 3 months ago
Being from New England, the commercials were by far the best part of the night! The rest was just a bad dream…. I actually thought one of the most effective ads was the Victoria’s Secret commercial near the end of the game. Setting it up as the “real games begin” was great and then ended with them advertising Valentine’s Day. Well done. My family also enjoyed the Shaquille O’Neal horse racing commercial although for the life of me I don’t remember what beverage he was advertising. So I guess it wasn’t that effective but I do appreciate that it didn’t end with him throwing up. I thought another effective one was the one the Go Daddy commercial that supposedly was “banned” by Fox. CEO Bob Parsons told the Arizona Republic that they don’t try to get commercials rejected, but after viewing the ad online I find that hard to believe. If you look at the ad there is no way that Fox was going to run that ad, and as a parent I’m glad they… Read more »
Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
14 years 3 months ago

The problem is this: a nice warm and fuzzy ad about Budweiser is still not going to make me go buy the stuff. The dancing lizards were hilarious but will there be a rush on Lite-water? People who buy Coke, Bud, Cars are still going to buy what they want regardless of these commercials. At my party, we missed a lot of the commercials because we were actually having social interactions. It’s just not what it used to be and the industry needs to take a hard look at their ROI in the future.

BTW: Tom Petty looks that way because he’s OLD. He still sounded good.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

My snide remarks aside, Liatt is totally correct. Good points.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Most of the ads reached for the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite get there. It’s become a contest of creating the “funniest commercial,” not selling product or building brand. All I remember about the woman with the lizards is that I thought of Geico.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 3 months ago

Yesterday, I watched them all, those commercials. This morning, I remember a compassionate Dalmatian helping to put a Clydesdale back onto the team, two cute balloons chasing a inflated bottle of Coke, and a baritone-toned baby throwing up. That’s a very poor reward for all those advertisers paying $3+ million for air time for mediocrity.

Crowded–and I mean crowded–in between the insipid commercials, the New Giants demonstrated the best commercial of the year–a dramatic 4th quarter victory over the team of the decade.

Joy V. Joseph
Guest
Joy V. Joseph
14 years 3 months ago

I thought there were a couple of good ones, but I agree there were none that are going to leave lasting equity.

Among th few good ones were the Tide talking stain and Baby Trader, and I thought Naomi Campbell dancing with the lizards for SoBe Life Water was cool. There were some really bad ones though. You would think that companies that spend 2.5 to 3 million dollars for a spot would have the capacity to hire good creative guys. In fact, events like the Super Bowl generate a huge number of impressions and should be leveraged by companies to launch brand icons of the caliber of the Geico caveman. Instead, a lot of them just wasted quality airtime.

Max Goldberg
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Good Super Bowl ads can be remembered the day after the game. Great ads are remembered a year after the game. This year’s crop of ads will soon be forgotten.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
14 years 3 months ago

How does a Dalmatian training a Clydesdale sell more beer? Marketing only works if the brand image is enhanced, and/or more product is sold off the shelf. A giant rat beating up a human for Doritos will not sell more snacks. A dog training a horse will not sell more beer. And a model dancing with lizards will not sell more water.

Ad agencies create ads that they think are cute, funny, and award winning. As long as the brand marketers are willing to pay for this nonsense, the ads will continue in this format.

Give me an Apple ad over all of these. Those ads sell product!

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

One of the draws for watching the Super Bowl has always been the commercials. This is especially true for non-football fans. This year’s commercials were simply a waste of money. I understand not all commercials are targeting me so I will discount them. The problem this year is that, for some reason, the advertisers think their target audience is both stupid and dumb. No brand building, product performance or quality imaging was achieved this year.

Dick Seesel
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

There are usually two camps weighing in after the Super Bowl about the ads: Those who prefer “warm and fuzzy” (The Clydesdales, the Coke ads) and those who prefer “edgy” (some of the beer and car commercials). So the day-after reviews of these TV spots need to be taken with a grain of salt. Best mark of efficacy: How long will the sponsors continue to use these ads, having sunk a lot into their production? And (most importantly) do they sell product, gain market share and build brand image?

Peter N. Schaeffer
Guest
Peter N. Schaeffer
14 years 3 months ago
It would be truly amazing if I could fully remember last night’s Super Bowl ads, nonetheless last year’s. Often, when I see the ad for the second time, I can’t tell you what product or company is being advertised. I guess the real question is whether we are looking for the most creative or funniest commercial or one that actually promotes a product or company. Most viewers are probably looking for the former, enjoying a very creative ad that may, but usually not, convey the importance of the product. Last night’s ads were not particularly memorable. I do remember the rather tasteless Salesgenie.com ads and the rather boring auto ads. The ones that stick in my mind are several Bud Light ads, the very smart talking stain ad from Tide and the terrific amateur ad from Doritos. I guess the real challenge is this, “Is it rational for companies to spend $2.7 million for 30 seconds of entertainment (excluding ad production costs) or should the ads actually sell something?”
Anne Howe
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

My household with boomers and college age kids was–for once–in agreement; most of the ads were bad. Our vote for worst two–the dalmatian training the Clydesdale was just way too hokey, and the play on Godfather with the car in the bed for Audi was awful–how could smart creatives and marketers resort to that old concept with a car that cool for inspiration? Are there no new ideas out there???

Our favorite was the Dorito rat, it made us all laugh out loud.

Overall, pretty disappointing. Even Tom Petty looked tired. Time to reinvent the event!

David Biernbaum
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

The Super Bowl commercials were disappointing and lazy this season. The ad writers must have also been on “strike” because many of the ads relied on tired clichés and poorly executed special effects.

No excuses; the ad creators had a year to make these better, and their clients paid millions of dollars for the exposure, and they wasted their money. By the 3rd quarter many viewers were heading to the kitchen not worried about missing the ads anymore.

No excuses. You could have done better!

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Since television executives no longer care about their advertisers’ problems with clutter and lack of exclusivity, why not run commercials by category? Mondays could be beer commercials. Tuesdays could be cars and trucks. Wednesdays could be fast food. Thursdays would be drugs. In the 1950s advertisers got exclusivity for their category for half an hour. You need one heck of a message to be remembered when 3 of your competitors’ ads get aired within 15 minutes of yours.

Carol Christison
Guest
Carol Christison
14 years 3 months ago

OK, I’ll admit it. I would have paid more attention if the Packers had made it to the Super Bowl, but I still watched. The giant rat was funny up to the point where he attacked the guy. I didn’t care for the violence.

If the measure of an ad’s success is in sales, then LifeWater’s ads did it for me. I loved the lizards doing the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance. It was funny, attention getting, and, not only do I remember the ad, I’m going to buy the product.

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