Super Bowl Ads

If you are one of those poor souls who “only watches the Super Bowl for the commercials” then you must have been sorely disappointed. Not only because of your inexcusable lack of appreciation for an amazing game you had sit through the entire thing, but you also had to endure quite possible THE WORST montage of overprices TV commercials ever made. Just about every ad I watched left me asking “what?” or thinking “that was inappropriate” or “not clever at all.” I will admit that this one had me laughing, but that was mostly due to the guy who says “hey dummy” resembling one of the executives where I work (for the record, he has always been respectful and great to work for). But upon reviewing it just now, I realize it is way too repetitive.

Some of the most awkward feelings I’ve felt are those in a room full of people intending to watch something benign being subjected to something utterly embarrassing. It is similar to when a friend rents a movie for a group to watch, and then when there is an inappropriate scene everyone feels compelled to blame the renter for having to watch it. This collective outrage and sense of responsibility is fascinating to me. The person who rented the movie didn’t make it, and most likely didn’t know about every minute of its content. Privately, we probably wouldn’t care that much about watching a troubling scene, or if we did, we would fast forward. But we would never think low of ourselves for merely renting the movie.

On the other hand, with the Super Bowl Ads there is no one to blame. Everyone just sits in a room and feels assaulted. The absurdity of watching something idiotic that cost close to three million dollars to produce is a particularly stressful experience. The only way to cope is to binge on more shrimp and buffalo wings.

What did you think of all the monkeys, retro references, groin shots, and stupid jokes?

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7 thoughts on “Super Bowl Ads

  1. Dan L says:

    The following is from Deadspin.com. DS is a sports blog that is usually very crude but usually very funny. I tend to agree with the writers assessment.

    There hasn’t been a truly memorable or inventive Super Bowl Ad in many years? (Terry Tate, maybe? When was that?) There are several factors that have contributed to this decline in your entertainment value.

    1) Censorship. Thanks to Janet Jackson everyone is afraid of the FCC boogeyman. That means when it comes to sexy or possibly lewd advertising there are two tactics. Avoid the subject completely or go so over the top that it’s guaranteed to get you banned, thereby generating more publicity than a straight, clever ad could have ever done. This latter technique seems to be the most popular.

    2) Money. Super Bowl ads have always been insanely expensive, but the price has far outstripped the utility of such a large investment on one “event” ad. That’s why many companies—Bud and Bud Light, most notably—avoid the big splashy ad and produce generic commercials that can be re-run endlessly for the next 12 months. They also buy several 30-second spots per game, meaning the actual production budget for each individual ad must remain austere. In short: quantity over quality.

    3) The Internet. It’s not enough to just market anymore—you must viral market. That means commercials for your commercials (see: Miller High Life), teasers, previews, or flat out leaking your ad on YouTube before the big game even happens. You have probably already seen half the major spots online (they’re all right here actually) which lowers the impact of the actual TV spot. Nothing ever lives up to the hype in this day age anyway.

    (Side note: Why does everyone crave spoilers so much? What’s the point of intentionally robbing your life all unexpected joy? Speaking of—here is Springsteen’s halftime set list, for people who like to read the last page of books first.)

    (And another thing! How dumb are those Miller High Life commercials with the obnoxious “real American” delivery guy. As if anyone who brings ostrich burgers to a tailgate would even consider putting that swill in their coolers. Look, I appreciate a cheap beer as much as the next guy, but I really think you’re barking up the wrong tree here. You know what else is a bird? Chicken! And turkey! Think about that. End Rant.)

    4) Corporations have no balls. You’re putting your company in the biggest spotlight imaginable and no one is willing to gamble their reputation or career on anything quirky, unusual, or unexpected. So enjoy your timid, risk-free existence, Mr. Executive.

    5) Copy writers suck? Most people just aren’t funny. Thems the breaks.

    If you want to take all the fun out of your Super Bowl party and watch the best commercials beforehand, go right ahead. Maybe you can yell out the best jokes, too, just before they’re said on TV and spoil all the fun for everyone!

  2. Deadspin is pretty much wrong.

    1) Censorship.

    This year’s ads were neither particularly lewd, nor were they particularly family-friendly. Censorship doesn’t have anything to do with it.

    “That’s why many companies—Bud and Bud Light, most notably—avoid the big splashy ad and produce generic commercials that can be re-run endlessly for the next 12 months.”

    Budweiser produces a number of ads (e.g. the Clydesdales) that only run during the Superbowl. That said, if an ad is good, it should be able to entertain Superbowl audiences AND run throughout the year.

    “3) The Internet. It’s not enough to just market anymore—you must viral market. ”

    Actually, I am surprised more companies didn’t tie in to social networking efforts. I thought Tide’s “Talking Stain” campaign would produce more imitators. If anything, marketers are woefully ignorant of the value of what DS calls “viral marketing”.

    Companies release their ads early to increase views, but I don’t see why this should mitigate against DS’s enjoyment of the ads.

    “4) Corporations have no balls. ”

    Okay, he’s right on this one, literally. In particular, marketing directors and their ilk tend to be women in their 40s with MBAs. Further, these women would rather be working more creative positions, but were squeezed out by men with stronger creative skills. These ornery, resentful ladies are the gatekeepers who prevent good creative content from coming out of agencies.

    “5) Copy writers suck? Most people just aren’t funny. Thems the breaks.”

    Good copywriters tend to be VERY funny. But again, they work for agencies, and agencies are hired my marketing directors.

    “And another thing! How dumb are those Miller High Life commercials with the obnoxious “real American” delivery guy. As if anyone who brings ostrich burgers to a tailgate would even consider putting that swill in their coolers.”

    I east ostrich burgers AND I drink Miller High Life. The beer is, indeed, swill, but those ads make me feel okay about drinking it. It’s like I’m in on a joke against the yuppie culture in which I take part.

    That said, the ads are aimed at people who find absurd the concept of ostrich burgers at a tailgating party, not those who consume ostrich burgers. I would think this to be mind-numbingly obvious, so either Deadspin guys is dumb (which he kinda is), or disingenuous and opportunistic (which he certainly is).

  3. Dan L says:

    I think self censorship plays a bigger role than say the FCC censorship. I think companies will try at all costs not to offend anyone(except for christians and white males) and that has watered down the marketing.

  4. Brett says:

    Kevin saved me a lot of writing. Thanks.

    But, I’d like to add that 3mil isn’t much money compared to the overall ad budgets for most of these companies. Just a drop in the bucket. And a good drop. The cost per viewer (especially once you add in all the internet views, news headlines and blog commentaries like this one) can be far cheaper than other media buys.

  5. There were 2 commercials I really liked:

    1. The Potato Heads. But now that I am thinking about it, I can’t even remember who it was advertising… (tires?)…so maybe it wasn’t the most effective.

    2. The Moose. I loved the boss’ office followed by the employee’s “rear view”. I suspect a lot of people can relate.

    Outside of that, I didn’t really like the commercials.

  6. JB says:

    Do not like the Dortio commerical with the Sindgle African American mother. Portraying a young african american lad as angry and viloent by having him slap the date. Not funny at all.

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