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?
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.