Category: Video

Patriots Lose, Tide Wins & All Is Right With the World After Super Bowl LII

02/05/2018

I hate the Patriots as much as the next red-blooded American, but even I have to admit that there was some damn good football played on both sides of the field last night.

But the important thing is that the Patriots lost, and we got to watch half a billion dollars’ worth of advertising. With 30-second spots coming in at $5 million apiece, how effective were advertisers with their incredibly expensive media buys?

Best Use of $20 Million: Tide

If Super Bowl ads were Super Bowl teams, Tide would be the Super Bowl XLVII-winning Seahawks and everyone else would be the XLVII-losing Broncos (final score 43:8).

This year, Tide was unstoppable. Its ads were hilarious, tied (get it – “tied”) into previous Procter & Gamble all-time greats like “I’m on a Horse” from Old Spice and disturbingly sexy Mr. Clean. And, perhaps most importantly of all, the spot actually focused on an important attribute of the product. You know, keeping clothes clean.

I don’t know if spending $20 million on Super Bowl advertising can ever deliver a positive ROI, but Tide seems to be making a pretty good go of it.

Tide was a clear winner in our office too. They made Roni’s and Andy’s “Best Of” lists, and perhaps Mustafa put it best: “They literally mindf*#ked us into thinking about Tide the whole time, even when it wasn’t their commercial. That’s seriously genius!!!”

Best & Worst Car Ads of the Game: FCA

Leave it to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to run both the best and worst car ads of the big game. By best, I’m clearly talking about the Wrangler Rubicon driving through a lake and up a waterfall.

But, even though I think it was the best car ad of the game, I’ve got a couple of minor nits to pick:

  • First, the ad would have been better without any voiceover – just a jeep doing awesome jeep stuff.
  • Second, if you’re going to poke fun at car ads with manifestos in them, and you’re FCA, you should first look in the mirror.

FCA (and Chrysler before them) has proved to be the king of manifestodriven Super Bowl ads … some of which were actually pretty decent. Others were not, which brings us to the year’s worst car ad: FCA automotive brand Ram using a MLK speech to sell trucks.

It has been swiftly and fairly criticized. There are valid arguments to be made here, but I’m pretty sure that at the end of the day, Dr. King’s dream was not to sell cars. I see this ad as a prime example of a great idea gone terribly, terribly wrong in the execution.

The ad’s tagline, “Built to Serve,” is really a bold departure for truck advertising. For the past 50 years, Dodge, Chevy and Ford have all been selling their trucks with variations on the theme of “This truck is big, tough and manly, and you will also be big, tough and manly if you buy it.”

The “Built to Serve” concept is a fresh, appealing departure from that message, which could have actually earned the Ram brand some appeal with new types of customers.

Oh well, too bad they messed it up.

At least we got this masterpiece, where someone dubbed a much more appropriate MLK speech over the same ad.

Nearly Perfect: Kia Stinger

Reverse-aging Steven Tyler, with the help of an affordable sports car, is a great concept. And for 99% of the ad, it was perfectly executed.

Then, the tagline popped up at the end: “Feel Something Again.”

That’s a weirdly pessimistic sentiment for a car ad. Like, we’re all just sitting here – dead inside – waiting for a Korean car manufacturer to awaken our ability to emote?

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Stinger and wish Kia all the success in the world … but Kia, don’t tell me how I do or do not feel.

This is also a perfect opportunity to make tsking noises in the direction of sister brand Hyundai’s oddly manipulative “If you buy any other car brand, you’re literally giving children cancer” ad.

Rap of Ice & Fire: Doritos / Mountain Dew

If you were writing an article for BuzzFeed titled “10 Most Likable Celebrities,” you’d have an awfully difficult time putting anyone but Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman at the top of that list.

It seems as though PepsiCo figured this out and used it to their advantage in their back-to-back Doritos and Mountain Dew spot.

The ad made Alysia’s and Roni’s list of favorites, and no one else had anything negative to say. My only criticism is that perhaps in the year of the #MeToo movement, Dinklage could have lip-synced to a Busta Rhymes line that wasn’t part of a song by someone with a history of violence against women.

Oddly Delightful: Passion in OBJ’s & Eli’s Eyes

No one at Echo-Factory had anything but praise for Odell Beckham Jr. and the NFL’s last-remaining Manning doing a bit of dirty dancing. The spot was great on a surface level, and there were a couple of Easter eggs in there for more obsessed football fans.

After a few years of clamping down on touchdown celebrations, the league finally let players celebrate this year, and seems ready to do more of the same in the future. It’s also nice to see OBJ comfortable with playing Jennifer Gray to Eli’s Patrick Swayze, even when one of Odell’s famous outbursts was reportedly a reaction to homophobic slurs.

Carl, Kyle and Alysia all picked it as a favorite.

When the NFL, Eli and OBJ team up to poke fun at themselves, we all win – except for the Patriots who, let me once again remind you, lost.

Giving Up: Corporate America Embraces Cowardice

Last year, corporate America seemed ready to stand up to the bigotry and racism that were taking over our political discourse.

That was the year Coke re-ran its multilingual America the Beautiful ad, 84 Lumber introduced us to an adorable girl stopped from coming to American by a wall and Budweiser reminded us that nearly all of us immigrated from somewhere.

This year, they apparently remembered that the alt-right has grocery budgets too.

Apart from Blacture’s “Be Celebrated” ad – and perhaps Ram’s incredibly misguided use of MLK’s speech – there really wasn’t a provocative political or social message to be seen during the big game. The closest we got was beer makers talking about water.

That isn’t just a sad moment from a social perspective; it’s also a missed opportunity for marketers to connect with new customers. Statements like the ones made during last year’s game can cause customers to think about brands in new, appealing ways. Backing off that message just confirms what we already know: It’s all just pandering.

Pop Music: Authenticity Wins & Loses

Both musical performances during the Super Bowl were more authentic than average.

In the case of Pink’s rendition of the national anthem, authenticity is exactly what the moment demanded. The best renditions of our nation’s anthem are skillful, bare and largely unadorned. Christina picked Pink’s performance as her favorite moment of the whole event.

Justin Timberlake’s halftime show was similarly authentic. It was clear that the pop megastar wasn’t lip-syncing as he carried his microphone in his hands and danced across nearly the entire stadium. And love or hate his music, it’s clear that Timberlake is good at what he does.

But when it comes to a Super Bowl halftime show, authenticity isn’t enough. We want theatrics: Lady Gaga flying in from the rafters – not, I dunno, a bunch of fans holding mirrors?

In the words of an 8-year-old I was watching with, “This is way less exciting than last year’s halftime.”

Is It Worth It?

So, after spending half a billion on Super Bowl advertisements, the big question remains: Is it money well spent?

In a time of cord cutters and YouTube, the Super Bowl is really traditional advertising’s last great event. But like nearly all traditional media outlets, results are hard to track.

It’s easy to guess that Tide will see a bump in sales, but is that going to account for the $20 million they spent on their ads? Could that $20 million have been better spent elsewhere?

This is likely why, on Friday before the game, when I reminded my coworkers that I’d be canvassing them for their opinions on Super Bowl ads, our CEO Mike Schaffer replied with, “Is it too early for me to say that Super Bowl commercials are irrelevant now?”

At the moment, perhaps. But it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

Lol. Ugh. WTF? Reviewing 2017’s Super Bowl Ads

02/06/2017

 

Yesterday, the evil-league-of-evil, lead by the evilly-handsome Tom Brady and his evil overlord Bill Belichick Sith, triumphed over the forces of good to deliver unto Boston the city’s 37th major sports championship, and deny Atlanta its 2nd.

New England’s never-before-seen-in-a-super-bowl comeback and victory further cemented Brady’s position as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game (gross), and doubtless will push the smugness of Boston sports fans into even more stratospheric heights (even grosser).

But we’re not here to talk about the disgusting show of terrible’ness that occurred on the field, we’re here to talk about important bits: the ads.

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Relive the Battle: Art v Tech 2015

10/21/2015

Monday evening, art squared off against technology in the battle of the decade.  Quite possibly even the battle of the millennium.  If you were one of the chosen few (well, ~100) in the crowd, you already know how things went down.  If not, you can watch the whole thing right here.

Thanks to our panelists, Innovate Pasadena and the rest of the Connect Week 2015 sponsors for helping to make it happen.

Get Art Out Of Technology Panelists - Battle of The Century

Thanks to our panelists from Ableton, Red Digital Cinema Camera Company and Echo-Factory, and our moderator from Kadenze!

The Feels Bowl 2015

02/02/2015

SuperBowl_2015_v3

This year, the Super Bowl was dominated by ads that tried to make us tear up, and tried (perhaps less effectively) to make us better people.

Toyota, Dove and Nissan all encouraged us to be better dads. The NFL reminded us to not follow the example set by of many of its players, McDonalds will pay us to be nice, and Coke reminded us not to bring our soda into a data center. I’m not really sure what American Family Insurance was trying to do, but apparently we were supposed to feel kindly towards a singing Norman Rockwell painting.

I honestly don’t know if this year’s Budweiser commercial with puppies and draft horses is different from last year’s. Maybe the wolves are new? I don’t know. Anyway, puppies and draft horses are cheating, and I award them -50 points for further vilifying wolves when there are plenty of misguided individuals already doing that for them. I now want a puppy and a draft horse, but still don’t want a Budweiser. Also, how many times are we going to watch that cowboy lose the puppy?  Does the SPCA need to get involved?

All of these were sentimental and sweet, but I don’t know if any of them will make sales rise, or actually make the world a better place.

Always
The Always (which honestly until this moment I thought was by Dove) #LikeAGirl campaign was far and away the best of the bunch, for effectively championing change and showing most viewers something I expect they’ll take to heart. However, it’s disqualified from being the best of the SuperBowl by virtue of being released in June of 2014.

The Best

My nominees for best ads go for ads that were very effective and making me think twice about things I would have otherwise dismissed.

Carnival

Cruising is, in my mind, the worst kind of vacation. You’re stuck on a boat with 1000’s of other boring lazy people, gorging yourself for a week while doing precisely nothing, and forgoing all of the challenges and experiences that make travel worthwhile.

If Carnival had done anything like the typical “shots of families going down waterslides and snorkeling” cruse ad, I would have given them a pass. But they didn’t. They used voiceover of JFK introducing the America’s cup, and made cruising about much more than endless buffets. A very good, very effective ad that I expect will help them reach a new demographic.

Fiat

The second honorable mention in this category goes to Fiat’s blue pill ad by the Richards Group (who makes great commercials but hasn’t apparently updated their website in the past 5-years). I think the 500 is a great little car, but feel that all the oversized Fiat’s are ugly.

In this spot, Fiat managed to be funny, tie their brand back in with their Italian heritage and make a positive association with the 500 as a 500x.

Lexus

As the owner of an ad agency, you have a choice between 4 makes of cars. Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi. Dea’s somewhere out in left field with a Volvo, but Mike decided on a Lexus. After watching their great the remote control drifting spot, I can’t blame him. It says, “buy a Lexus and you’ll have fun,” which is really what we all want from our cars.

Office Favorites

Stephanie had a shout-out to Budweiser’s live-action PacMan spot, and I have to agree with her love of GrubHub’s flying burrito. That’s mostly because there are few things I hate more than the forced interaction of calling someone on the phone.

“…without ever having to talk to a human being” would sell me just about any product. Finally, someone gets me.

Mustafa fell for the delight of Mountain Dew’s kickstart promo, saying, “something about showing a dog doing the booty dance will always make me laugh.” How can you disagree?

Mike was a fan of “whatever car company tricked me to think my tv went out, but the fact that he can’t remember which car company paid for the spot means something. I do have to say I’m a big fan of the copy on that one. There’s something simple, straightforward and true about, “You know you want a truck.”

I don’t need one, but yeah, I do kind of want a truck.

Most Improved

No question, but this award goes to GoDaddy. Since time immemorial and the dawn o the internet, GoDaddy Super Bowl ads have been crass, immature, sexist and fully cringeworthy. They did nothing but build controversy and name-recognition, and we’ve discussed their awfulness in the past.

But this year, they went in an entirely different direction. GoDaddy’s core demographic is small business owners. People who have a DIY ethic, who work hard and for whom building a good online brand is a key consideration. For once, GoDaddy hit the nail on the head.

It pains me to do it, but I have to give credit where it’s due. This was a great spot, and spot-on.  It’s almost reassuring to learn that their tasteful and quite good commercial that actually ran was a replacement for a somewhat-awful original, pulled after complaints from animal rights group.

A Personal Favorite

I’m not sure it’ll be very effective combating Gorilla Glue’s ownership of the market, but Loctite’s spot was fantastic and hilarious. Mike loved it too.

Sadly, I just went to the store this morning and bought Gorilla Glue, despite the undeniable appeal of fanny packs. Sales might have been boosted more by showing how strong the stuff is, but I have to take a moment to thank Loctite and Fallon for 30 seconds of pure entertainment.

Begrudging Admiration

I hate the entire Game of War ad campaign, but I have to admit that “Kate Upton being rubbed down in a bathtub with monsters and explosions” is pretty much 100% spot-on for the game’s target demographic of 13 year old boys.

While it didn’t do much to convince me to try Clash of the Clans, I do like watching Liam Neeson threaten his phone.

Contested

Weight Watchers

Stephanie panned Weight Watcher’s food-porn ad, commenting that neither she nor “anyone who watched that commercial will be going to Weight Watchers anytime soon.” I thought it was awesome, and the “me vs. the world that’s trying to make me fat” attitude was on target.  Also, great job finding the George Clooney voice-alike who was doubtless cheaper than the real thing, and nearly as effective.

Nissan

Mustafa picked Nissan’s dad-racer spot as one of his favorites. I thought it was good, but there’s no way a Nissan factory racer is picking up his kid from school in an Altima. It’s no accident that Nissan seems to have dubbed the exhaust note of a GT-R over the Altima, because there’s no freaking way the real world version of that dad is driving anything but a GT-R.

Object Lessions in Near Greatness

Weathertech
Last year, Weathertech had a great spot. This year, they almost had another one.

It starts on all the right notes, blue-collar, made-in-america, then gets simultaneously too generic and technical. “Quality automotive accessories” doesn’t mean anything because it’s too generic, and and “laser-measured custom-fit” doesn’t mean anything because nobody knows how it benefits them.

My guess is it’s a classic case of a client wanting to fit too many messages in a single ad, and the agency not having the ahem gumption to stand up and tell them no.

Dove
Dove’s #RealStrength dad-ad is an even better example of near greatness.

A beautiful, moving montage of children saying “dad”, ruined by an ending featuring “the most generic and cheesy radio announcer guy ever.” It’s obvious the original spot ended with a much softer branding/logo fadeout, and the awful CTA was added at the last minute by, to put it gently, a fool who has no business in advertising.

Without the ending it’s my personal favorite, with it it’s a case study in what not to do for advertisers everywhere.

The Worst

Far and away the worst of this year’s crop is Budweiser’s “Beer for people who don’t care what their beer tastes like and just want to get drunk” ad. (Alternate title: “Craft Beer is for Sissies.”)

I didn’t take pride in the fact that I’d never actually drunk a Budweiser until that spot came on the air. Now it’s gone from a strange fact to a personal goal. I think anyone who’s ever actually tasted good beer would rather be at the table of guys “dissecting” craft brews than knocking back a cold one.

What You Think?

I know it’s hard to imagine, but sometimes people disagree with us.  If you’re one of them, let us know in the comments.

The Good, Bad & Ugly of 2014 Super Bowl Ads

02/04/2014

It’s time for the 5th annual installment of our popular(ish) critique of the year’s Super Bowl ads. Unless your license plate says “Washington” on it, this was about the most boring football game of the season, which means that this year’s ads had an even bigger entertainment challenge than normal. So were they up for it? Were they good enough to entertain us from the single-sided butchery that was happening on the field?

Let’s see.

The Best

Car Companies

This year, car companies led the field with the best ads of the big game.

Volkswagen’s “Wings” commercial was excellent. I get shivers down my spine imagining the client meeting where someone from Volkswagen’s agency sat in front of a marketing VP and said, “So, then at the end, when a car hits 200,000 miles, a rainbow comes out of his butt.” I’ll happily buy a round for the creative team at Argonaut for convincing a client to let them run that ad on national television. I’ll buy a second one for managing to keep the ad on message and suggest that an average Jetta could really make it 200,000 miles.

Chevy’s two truck ads also deserve a special mention. Before their Super Bowl spots, the automaker’s “A man and his truck” campaign was completely uninspired. It was the same “drive a Chevy and be a manly cowboy” tune they’ve been singing for the past few decades. But, “A man, his truck and an aroused cow” takes things in a whole new direction. No one expects Chevy to take a chance on advertising that might make viewers uncomfortable, so they deserve recognition for taking a risk and pulling it off. Their “Life” commercial was a genuinely sweet counterpoint to the merciless thrashing happening in MetLife Stadium.

The clever offroading Smart Car spot was Sarah’s favorite, and Jeep and Kia did a good job of respectively reinforcing and changing perceptions of their brands. Audi’s Doberhuahua was a big winner in our office, being picked by Sydnee, Roni and Hayley, giving it the most “favorite” votes of any spot.

As relatively obscure luxury brands, Maserati and Jaguar both ran very good branding spots that should help 5 Series and S-Class shoppers at least take a second look before they hand over their large wads of cash to BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Even Kia’s Morpheus ad made me stop and think, “Huh, maybe it would be nice to ride around in a Kia.” That’s something I’ve never ever thought before.

The only real exception to the whole bunch of good and great Super Bowl car ads was Hyundai’s “Nice”. It wasn’t necessarily bad, just boring. Proof that paying celebrities to be in your ad isn’t the secret to advertising success. Oh, and Chrysler’s Bob Dylan spot, which was so boring that I forgot about it until just now. Bob Dylan’s a legend. His commercial wasn’t legendary.

Other Standouts

Dorito’s Time Machine was on both Mike and Carl’s lists of favorites, and Mike and Sydnee both like Stephen Colbert splitting open his head for Pistachios. Also, does anyone know how Pistachios™ became a brand? Are almonds going to spend $4 million on a spot next year? Will walnuts start an intensive social media campaign in the fall? What about legumes? When will lima beans get a trademark?

Mike, who’s no fan of Bud Light, admitted that Ian’s adventures just might be enough to get him to drink one. I don’t know what more you could ask from a $4 million spot. He also liked Duracell’s very inspirational Derrick Coleman spot. I agree, though I’m not sure it will influence my battery choices next time I’m buying double-As at Costco.

Coca-Cola deserves recognition for knowing that its multilingual “America the Beautiful” commercial would enrage our country’s racist nut-jobs, and choosing to run it anyway. Check out Atlanta news anchor Brenda Wood’s monologue on the topic if you’re still not sure which side of the nut-jobbery fence you’re settling on.

Mixed Reviews

Sarah and Mustafa are wonderful people, but I totally disagree with them when it comes to Greek yogurt advertising.  I hope we’ll be able to stay friends. Oikos’s Full House reunion got Mustafa right in the nostalgia, but I thought it was too forced, and didn’t really say anything about the product it was trying to sell.

On the other hand, I thought Chobani’s rampaging grizzly was great, but Sarah picked it as her least favorite for being “random and pointless”. I guess Chobani’s messaging wasn’t as clear as I thought. It’s also worth noting that about five years ago, no one in America had Greek yogurt in their fridge, and Sunday we watched at least $8 million worth of advertising for it during the country’s biggest television event.

I’m also on the losing side of intra-office opinions on Tebow for T-Mobile. I love to see a celebrity make fun of themselves, and before now, I’ve never seen Tim be anything but sincere. Mike thought it was a good idea, poorly executed. Carl thought it was straight-up awful.

Mike was also conflicted about Radio Shack being called by the 80s. He felt it was a good spot, but in his own words, “Too bad a commercial can’t actually get me to their terrible store.”

The Worst

Here’s a line I could copy and paste into every Super Bowl roundup we’ve ever written. “GoDaddy’s commercial was awful.” Like my hero Richard Sherman once said, “When you pick a sorry registrar like GoDaddy, that’s the result you’re going to get.” Or something to that effect.

At least this year the GoDaddy commercials were slightly less awful than normal, and managed more inclusiveness by objectifying both men and women. That’s progress.

Mike’s uncontested pick for the worst ads of the 2014 Super Bowl went to Budweiser’s A Hero’s Welcome and Puppy Love spots. Don’t get me wrong, every veteran deserves a parade like the one they threw for Chuck Nadd, and interspecies friendships are adorable. But as Mike put it, “in advertising, using war veterans and puppies is cheating.”

Weigh In

Think we got it wrong? Didn’t give GoDaddy a fair chance? Totally misinterpreted the meaning of Tim Tebow? Then tell us in a comment, or leave us a nasty message on Facebook. We’re adults, we can take it.