Super Bowl XLI: ads evaluated

Tony_dungy_ii I watched the Super Bowl yesterday, resolving to grade the ads even as I watched the game.  Chicago’s early promise and eventual collapse made it hard to concentrate so it wasn’t until this morning that I went through the ads carefully.   I used 5 categories: 5 (best) to 1 (appalling). 

The question is whether anyone in America is now making ads the way Tony Dungy makes football teams.  Well, yes, the Super Bowl ads showed a few moments of class 5 genius.  And there was work that ranged from the capable (4) to the competent (3).  But there was also quite a lot of bad work (2), proving yet again that the agency world cannot protect itself (or the client) from rank incompetence.  And yesterday, there were a couple of absolute stinkers (1), demonstrating that some agencies are still able to persuade the client to  fund the public destruction of their brand equity.

That there should be good work should not surprise us.  The agency world has always been skilled at the task the corporation is only now attempting to master: how to get everything out of the way of a great idea and then how to get everything out of the way of a great execution of that idea. 

This is spectacularly difficult process at the best of times, but now the agency is tormented by the idea that they must include the consumer in the process, to allow for a process of cocreation of brand meaning and equity.  The secret of agency genius has always been to keep consumers, the corporation and other civilians out of the brainstorm.  Now the question is how to let them in…and still engage in good meaning manufacture.   Yesterday’s experiments prove how tough this is going to be.

That’s the internal challenge.  The external challenge is how to hold one’s own against the proliferation of new media: the internet, social networks, product placement, video in-game advertising, guerrilla marketing, cell phone ads, Google line ads.  But all of this is all little advertising, frequently concept and creativity free.  The Super Bowl, then, comes as an opportunity for an industry to reassert its primacy, to showcase the state of the art, and to stun the competitors into silence.  On the whole, I don’t think yesterday’s effort will have that effect.   

Ok, here are my ratings.   I arrived at them using an incredibly complicated algorithm that weighed spectacle, intelligience, creativity, wit, strategy, execution, theme, and vivacity.  (All of this in my head!!!)  If there is a bias here, and of course there is a bias here, it is an anthropological one.  My real question: with what imagination, intelligence, and economy did the agency use the cultural materials at its disposal.  More precisely, how well did the agency make brand meaning out of cultural meaning?

5 stars (best)

E*TRADE –  One Finger
BBDO New York
for the adcritic replay of this ad, click here

Agency:
BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officers:
David Lubars, Bill Bruce
Director:
Paul Middleditch, HSI Productions / Plaza Films
Production Company:
HSI Productions / Plaza Films
Editorial Company:
Beast

Coca-Cola – Happiness Factory
Wieden & Kennedy/Amsterdam
here.

Agency:
Wieden & Kennedy/Amsterdam
Executive Creative Director:
Al Moseley,
John Norman
Creative Director:
Rick Condos,
Hunter Hindman
Agency Executive Producer:
Tom Dunlap
Agency Producer:
Darryl Hagans
Production Company:
Psyop/NY
Director:
Kylie Matulick,
Todd Mueller
Director of Photography:
Ray Coates
Executive Producer:
Matt Buels,
Tim Nunn
Producer:
Boo Wong
Sound Design:
Amber Music
Sound Designer:
Bill Chesley
Music Company:
Human/NY
Live Action Production Company:
Hungry Man/NY
Live Action Director:
Peter Lydon
Mix Engineer:
Hillary Kew
Executive Producer (Design):
Justin Booth-Clibborn

Sierra Mist – Karate
BBDO New York
here.

Client:
Pepsi
Agency:
BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer:
David Lubars
Copywriter:
Jim LeMaitre
Executive Producer:
Hyatt Choate
Senior Producer:
Amy Wertheimer
Executive Music Producer:
Loren Parkins
Production Company:
Hungry Man – New York
Director:
Hank Perlman
Director of Photography:
Joe DiSalvo
Editorial Company:
Nomad Editing Company, Inc
Editor:
Tom Muldoon
VFX/SFX:
The Mill
Music:
Alexander Lasarenko / Tonal

4 stars (better)

E*Trade – Robbery
BBDO New York
here.

NFL – Hard to say goodbye
NFL
here

Bud Select – Just a Game
Cannonball
here.

Nationwide – Rolling’ VIP
T:M Advertising
here.

Toyota – See – Saw
Saatchi & Saatchi LA
here

Toyota – Ramp
Saatchi & Saatchi LA
here.

Coca-Cola – Especially Today
Widen Kennedy Portland
here.

Bud Light – Fist Bump
DDB Chicago
here

Budweiser – Clydesdale Spot
DDB Chicago
here.

Coca-Cola – Videogame
Wieden Kennedy/Portland
here.

Bud Light – But He’s Got Bud Light
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b4d51164

3 stars (good)

GM – Robot
Deutsch/Los Angeles
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=4f2a6054

Chevrolet – Ain’t We Got Love
Campbell-Ewald
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b5c8d8ea

Taco Bell – Big Game
Draft FCB/Irvine
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=425d6acc

T-Mobile – Icon
Publicis West – Seattle
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=2e4e17b2

Emerald Nuts – Boogeyman
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=92e8e1d2

Hewlett-Packard – Orange County Choppers
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners – San Francisco
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=0ec7b725

IZOD – In the Snow
In-house
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=ff399dcd

Honda Slalom
RPA
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b341cd6c

CareerBuilder.com – Darts
Cramer-Krasselt
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=37c98ef5

CareerBuilder.com – Promotion Pit
Carmer-Kasselt
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=fc783f2a

Bud Light – Great Apes
Mortar
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=36ab11ce

Spring – Connectile Dysfunction
Publicis Hal Riney
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b0407b09

Doritos – Checkout Girl
Kristin Dehnert
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=38835277

Sierre Mist – Combover
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=d71c0aa8

Pizza Hut – Poparazzi
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=2c33620e

2 stars (not so good)

Bud Light – Rock, Papre, Scissors
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=9234aa74

Blockbuster – Mouse Click-Click Away
Doner
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=9ac640c5

Bud Light – Classroom
LatinWorks Marketing
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=75bd1609

King Pharmaceuticals and American Heart Association – Heart Attack
Glowworm
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=f8363328

Bud Light – Reception
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=8c907fc1

FedEx – Moon office
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=b6f8c04b

Van Heusen – A Man’s Walk
In-house
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=0c95ad95

FedEx – Not What It Seems
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=3912a98f

Flomax – Biking
Grey Worldwide
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=eb42252a

CareerBuilder.com – Performance Evaluation
Cramer-Krasselt
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=a1c0a188

Snapple -Wise Man
Cliff Freeman and Partnrs/NY
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=fa1a775e

Honda -Elvis
RPA
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=1b1e8a0c

Budweiser -King Crab
DDB Chicago
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/category.php?search_criteria=Super%20Bowl%20XLI

FedEx – Not what it seems
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=3912a98f

Chevrolet – Car Wash
Campbell-Ewald (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=13417a09

GoDaddycom – The office -Marketing
In-house
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=12c0b8d1

Doritos – Chip Lover’s Dream
Jared Cicon, consumer created
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=ec2d10c4

Doritos -Duct Tape
Joe Herbert (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=c126b0f2

Doritos – Live the Flavor
Dale Backus (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=a40a5dfb

Pizza Hut – Herd
BBDO New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=35b9c376

1 star (please)

Garmin – Maposaurus
Fallon
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=6248e838

Snickers – Mechanics
TBWAChiatDay New York
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=45b118d5

Salesgenie.com – Pierce-Bostt
Vinod Gupta
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=e6275844

Doritos – Mouse Trap
Billy Federight (consumer created)
http://adage.com/superbowlspots07/superbowl.php?seed=5c7a3c80

Acknowledgments

Thanks to www.blackprofs.com for the picture of Tony Dungy.

Thanks to Adage.com and adcritic.com for coverage of the Superbowl ads.

6 thoughts on “Super Bowl XLI: ads evaluated”

  1. I’m glad you gave the Snickers ad one star.

    I haven’t seen such cut-and-dry homophobia in a while.

    It makes you less manly if you kiss another man?

    Give me a break.

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  3. I didn’t watch all (or even most) of the commercials, but my first reaction was that they seemed refreshingly non-PC.

  4. I haven’t seen such cut-and-dry homophobia in a while.

    It makes you less manly if you kiss another man?

    Really? I had more the opposite reaction, that people are supposed to laugh at the guys for being homophobic. Of course, I suppose that it can go either way:

    1) Laugh at the guys for accidentally kissing each other;
    2) Laugh at the guys for their ridiculous reaction.

    1) would be homophobic, 2) rather the reverse. It goes both ways.

  5. Hmm … maybe the joke was lost on me (or functioned on two levels).

    Rich’s comment is interesting — this, and the one with the immigrants learning English, looked like something that would appeal to the pickup-truck crowd.

  6. Alas, I only wish I had a pickup truck. Then Joe’s world would be complete. I had forgotten about the immigrant ad – that was a scream. Thanks, Joe.

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