Welcome to the 2014 Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic! Super Bowl XLVIII is done, the Seattle Seahawksare the Super Bowl champions, Joe Namath’s coat is aggressively humping his leg before curling up to sleep at the foot of his bed, and it’s time to reveal our judging panel’s (me and Office Dog) favorites from this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads.
Note that, while everyone has their opinions of the best and worst, funniest and failures, award winners and money wasters, noteworthy and not worthy, our honors may stray wildly from the standard Super Bowl advertising award fare. Our goal is to recognize the ads that stuck, the ads that sucked, and the ads resonated with the guy or gal who watched the game first, the commercials second, and had a beer or two while actually enjoying the entire show (from the viewpoint of an advertising guy who worked Super Bowl promotions in bars for 15 years). So, without further non-poetry…
The Office Dog Honors Award
Last year, wolves replaced dogs who replaced monkeys as the official animal of Super Bowl advertising. This year, I’d say bears took over the crown, appearing in the Chobani, CarMax and Beats Music spots.
Of the the three, I liked the Beats spot with Ellen DeGeneres the best:
It was fun, lighthearted and played to both men and women (and dogs). Plus it had a good beat and you could dance to it.
None of them, however, compared to perhaps the greatest advertising bear of all time.
The A For Execution But…Award
Maserati gave us an ad with a striking setup, lots of dramatic footage, lots of images of achievement and adversity and video and VO from an (ostensibly) underprivileged African American kid, only to finish it off with :15 seconds of clichéd performance car footage of their Ghibli (sp?) model, which maybe one percent of those viewing could afford. Awfully glossy but utterly pointless…
Chrysler came through with another powerful “Imported From Detroit” spot, this time with voiceover and appearance by one Bob Dylan. Though the copy was a bit shaky, I found it riveting because, honestly, when was the last time anyone actually heard Bob Dylan say some thing intelligible? But other than that, it was basically the very same spot Chrysler has run for the last several years. This year, it was Bob Dylan in for Clint Eastwood and Eminem with the copy dealing out ample dollops of jingoism. But the fact that one knew about 10 seconds in that it was a Chrysler spot took all the air and suspense from it for me.
The WTF Award
Squarespace gave us their dark, scary :60 second version of the Internet in order to promote their ability to change what the web will become? Sorry, too much production for too little payoff, especially on a day when big brand names stand out.
The GoDaddy.com Please, For The Love Of God, Go Away Award
Since GoDaddy has won this award every year its been given, I’ve decided to just name it after them. Ironically, however, the WalMart of websites got a real agency and, for a change, didn’t use cheap, sexual gimmickry in their Super Bowl ads. That left the door open for a new contender, and this year Axe body sprays took my top honors for the brand I just wish would disappear from the planet. While it wasn’t their typical adolescent/douchey/rapey schlock, Axe’s make Love Not War Super Bowl spot was nothing but a lame attempt to be sexy and controversial that was wildly off-brand.
Bud Light’s Up For Whatever series of spots were an incomparably bad, self-referential series that just tried too hard. That they made it clear in their first spot that they were going have spots that were typical, “Oh boy! What wackiness can happen in a Super Bowl commercial with Bud Light?” made it just that much easier to tune out the rest of them. That they also threw in another incongruous spot, hyping all the exciting features of their new aluminum bottle, that was apparently produced for viewers of the Super Bowl in 1998, made Bud Light one of my biggest brand losers on the day.
The Best Super Bowl Spot That Wasn’t A Super Bowl Spot
Newcastle Brown Ale produced a series of wildly entertaining spots highlighting all the Super Bowl ads they would have made, had they actually made spots for the Super Bowl. You can see the whole series here, though my favorite, with actress Anna Kendrick is below.
The Pointless Use Of A Male Model Award
H&M gave us David Beckham…running around in his underwear. Hey look! It’s David Beckham running around in his underwear. Oooh, look at David Beckham’s tattoos as he runs around in his underwear. I think the spot had some form of a plot, but it was lost amidst more shots of David Beckham running around in his underwear. Sorry Kate, it sucked!
Granted SodaStream’s spot didn’t feature a male model, but their use of actress Scarlett Johansson, a stated effort to “go viral” along with clichéd sexy shots of her passionately slurping made this one go over like a lead ballon, with all the subtlety to match.
The Water Cooler Winner
The Water Cooler Award goes to the spot or spots that people are gonna be talking about the most today and, at least to my gut, the Budweiser Puppy Love spot led the pack. It was beautifully shot, it had puppies, Clydesdales, a hot chick, a hot guy, and it plucked all the right emotional strings. The only caveat was that Budweiser slotted this in the two minute warning commercial break near the end of the game and, since the game was well over by that point, many folks might have missed it.
Actually, I’m guessing a lot of people won’t be talking about this one, but I thought Sonos’ spot was one of the most effective of the day. While the music might have been discordant and annoying to some, the zero-copy ad graphically showcased what their product does, which is more than I can say for about 90 percent of the spots I saw today.
I also liked Hyundai’s “Dad’s Sixth Sense” spot as it blended a relatable concept with Super Bowl humor, minimal VO copy and a nice line of “Remember when only Dad could save the day?” to promote its auto emergency brake.
So, there ya go…my take on the the ads from Super Bowl XLVIII. Some good, some bad, some creative, some cliché. Feel free to leave your thoughts, picks, pans, favorites and failures in the comments. And, until then, when does the 2014 football season start?