February 2, 2009
The highly anticipated and extremely underwhelming Super Blow ads have aired and, at least in my circles, Monday morning is a time to review not the game but the performance of the ads.
The Super Bowl has become the stage where advertisers bring out the big guns and pay top dollar to impact their audiences' perceptions and purchasing habits.
Advertising is obviously the backbone of a capitalist society that thrives on consumption in order to keep the blood pumping through the veins of the public. This is something that we all know in the back of our minds and in accepting this lifestyle we combine our greatest yearly sporting event with an injection of marketing elixir that will ensure that our appetites for domain names and fast food are met throughout the course of the year.
Coke came out the big winner this year with a flurry of animation and visual candy featuring more natural and familiar subjects like grasshoppers, ants, ladybugs and bees trying to steal a sip of its bubbly, caffeinated goodness from a snoozing picnicker.
I felt that it was the most well balanced, socially conscience and refreshingly natural (in all its computer generated glory) spot during this years game.
In a pool of horny horses and horny domain name registrars, 80s cartoon movie revivals, the emergence of Hyundai as the economical choice of wheels and lots of beer and chips, there were two spots that really made me take notice.
The first would be the almost embarrassing pairing of the legendary Bob Dylan with the Black Eyed Peas front man Wil.I.Am. While the spot was well conceived and actually a nice juxtaposition of the "now and then", I felt that some of the comparisons were insulting to the greatness of those who have laid down the foundation for todays posers who eat from the fat that has been accumulated from the greatness of the pioneers of the past. It just didn't sit well with me, however I remember it on Monday morning so it must have been effective.
The second spot that stuck with me was a name I had not expected to see during the game. Pedigree ran a pretty well done spot for something called The Pedigree Adoption Guide, the VO says - "Maybe You Should Get A Dog?" - ...maybe you should get a dog, so you can buy more dog food? It was really the first time I had seen something like this during the big game. A dog food manufacturer telling people to get a dog... I will let that set in for a bit.
Coke remained consistent this year with some very cool spots that I thought resonated really well culturally. Avatar is by far my favorite spot from them this year. It is well written and spot on in terms of the convergence of digital into our culture. Its official folks! When Coke ads feature digital avatars and cute characters living harmoniously with humans, now you know that whatever it is you think is cool, is really cool.
In the second Coke spot named Heist we are witness to some more great computer generated life all pining to get a sip of some carbonated water, lots of sugar, phosphoric acid, fructose, corn syrup, caramel, color, natural flavors, and caffeine.
What else would "nature" want to drink?
In perpetual second place is Pepsi with some pretty lame and violent ads trying to sell men diet soda. Cheetos, SOBE, Gatorade and Frosted Flakes all rounded out the line up of the staples of the American diet.
Cars and tires made their perennial appearance this year with the usual disappointment expected from the diminishing auto industry.
My two favorite breakthrough spots had to be Alec Baldwin for Hulu which made watching TV on the web supremely better than watching TV on TV. The tag line? Hulu: An Evil Plot To Destroy The World, well done NBC!
The second had to be the Cash4Gold spot featuring none other than MC HAMMER and Ed McMahon pawning off all of their worldly possessions for some cash. The spot had that "dirty" effect rendering it cheap and lowly yet was obviously backed by some big bucks. I am not quite sure what to make of this spot, kinda sad that pawning is now big business.
I always try to put the entire line up into some sort of social perspective where I judge our great nation based upon what I see in these Super Bowl commercials.
This year it was obvious that the economy has taken a real hit. Jobs and food seemed to be the stress. What I didn't see was a focus on the new administration, looking towards the future, a chin up and a chest out attitude. I would have liked to have seen more of that kind of messaging to both ride and enhance the momentum of the recent elections and changing of the guard.
I think that the opportunity was lost and hopefully next years batch will be more optimistic and hopeful.