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, cars.com 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?