super bowl ads? the timmy goes to …

When I taught advertising in spring semesters, I would assign the class to watch at least part of the Super Bowl™ and come prepared with a commercial to discuss. Since I’m writing a book instead of teaching that class right now, I wasn’t quite as into it as previously. But then I wasn’t alone. NBC managed to find almost no takers at the $3 million per spot it wanted and struggled to fill the slots even at lower prices. And the resulting ads were more satisfactory than sizzling.

The closest thing to An Event, adwise, was a 3D break just after the first half. And while the promo for Aliens vs. Monsters was just decent, the 3D ad for Sobe was chaotic, unfocused and did nothing for the product. After that FAIL, I muttered: There’s several million dollars they’ll never get back.

The economy generally kept the lid on anything too crazy, the opposite of the year in the Go-Go ’90s that Web domains piled money on elaborate commercials that told us nothing about their soon-to-go-bust products. So I’m left to try to make some sense of the ads, which brings us to the first-ever Timmy Awards.

Best Impact Ad: The Pedigree adoption program. Very funny setup by showing us how bad a rhinoceros, ostrich or warthog would make as pets, then pulling at our heartstrings with the adoption angle. This is what advertising should be.
Best Advertising Two-Fer: Bridgestone Tires scored twice with first Mr. and Mr. Potatohead then the Moon Lander spot. Funny and remembered to sell a product. (Is this too much to ask?)
Most Stylish Ad: Audi’s Progress is Beautiful spot with action star Jason Statham grabbing a succession of vehicles, finally an Audi A6, for a series of getaways. Over the top and excessive, yet breathtaking and driving home a branding point.
Funniest Moment in a Creepy Ad: The new baby singing Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” in the eTrade spot. It will get old the second time, but at least it drew fleeting attention.
Most Compelling Movie Promo: The new Star Trek, though I have a bias knowing the excellent Simon Pegg is playing Scotty.
Career in the Toilet Movie Promo: Vin Diesel’s back for Fast and Furious 4? Maybe he had to do something until Babysitter 2 got the green light.
Best of NBC’s 3972 Self-Promos: The Office. No contest. Almost every other spot told us some really very extra special episode of some NBC show was airing soon, a technique that got old back in the 1980s.
Most Inside Joke Ad: The Pepsi commercial using SNL’s MacGruder likely hit home with fans of the MacGuyver spoof. Since most viewers had no idea what was going on, the poor execution left many people saying huh?
Too Much of a Good Thing Award: Budweiser showed us that one Clydesdale ad during a Super Bowl™ is usually memorable, but three are probably too much. Know when to say when!
Best Setup for Least Payoff: In presenting the story of a exceptionally confident man since birth who nonetheless fears buying vehicles, built up to a mediocre conclusion.
What are You Selling? Ignoble Award: So GoDaddy is sending viewers to its site for softcore porn now? That seems to be the takeaway, certainly not their product.

There may have been more ads worth noting, but to be honest, it was all quite unmemorable. Thoughts?



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6 responses to “super bowl ads? the timmy goes to …

  1. Dave Bullard

    I have to say, I didn’t remember that Bridgestone sponsored the Mr. & Mrs. Potatohead spot, which I enjoyed.

    I liked the “Free-The-Doritos” spot, though the crotch shot was too obvious.

    I think I laughed the hardest at the CareerBuilder spot which showed the stuffed trophy head on the boss’s office wall and the employee sitting under the animal’s dead ass on the other side of the wall.

    It’s my pick for most effective metaphor.

    GoDaddy? The problem is — how do you sell web hosting services?

    I agree on — great setup, weak payoff.

    MacGruder sucked, plainly.

    All the eTrade baby spots are creepy, but I’m used to them now and this one was funny.

    But my favorite spot was the NBC Hulu spot with Alec Baldwin. Funny, with an unexpected ending and great, anti-Google branding. Saw it again tonight and enjoyed it just as much.

    This was the rare Super Bowl where the game was better than the commercials, though, for a recession, the spots weren’t bad.

  2. insidetimshead

    I realized after blogging (thanks to feedback) how many ads I forgot. A forgettable ad is not a good thing for its makers, or a statement on my memory.

    But I definitely agree on the CareerBuilder spot … great metaphor that resonated with my friends on Twitter, now that I recall.

    Some liked the NBC Hulu one, but I find a) NBC self-hype and b) Alec Baldwin rather off-putting, so you could say it was self-MacGrudering.

    It’s hard to take any commercial seriously that resorts to a crotch shot. Done and then some.

    As for GoDaddy, it’s up to the advertising industry to sell products regardless of how uninspiring they may seen. To essentially drive people to the Web for titillation is to say you have no real confidence in what you’re supposed to be selling.

    Hey, always great to hear from you!

  3. I missed the SuperBowl in favor of the Puppy Bowl . So I missed most of the ads. I did catch the Pepsi one. and yes.. very inside joke.

    I have since seen the Hulu ad. LOVED it.

    Hey … putting together a blogroll btw. OK if I add you? Or is there another site you’d prefer?

  4. insidetimshead

    ROW-D: Happy to be added! Thanks.

  5. derf6179

    Most students agreed they didn’t like the ads. Some thought Denny’s ad was a lost cause and the restaurant’s last stand. They liked the Doritos (snow globe) and the Pedigree ad (however I had to explain the pedigree ad before they all remembered what it was)

  6. insidetimshead

    I find it hard to rate high any ad that has to rely on someone getting hit in the groin. C’mon! Such a lazy way to get a laugh.

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