Sponsor Content Above the Clutter with Pete Krainik
Episode Four: St. Louis Cardinals
Brought to you by: IBM
Last year Super Bowl viewers were treated to a barrage of emotional, sometimes uplifting, sometimes maudlin commercials. While there's nothing wrong with moving advertising, or marketing that acknowledges real life, it all added up to be a bit much.
Led this year by Mtn Dew and BBDO's PuppyMonkeyBaby, however, the advertising of Super Bowl 50 went a different way. For the most part, viewers were the winners. Check out all the ads here.
Mtn Dew, PuppyMonkeyBaby
What-the-hell-is-that spectacle and a dozen hypnotic repetitions of "PuppyMonkeyBaby" keep you staring at the screen like Alex in "A Clockwork Orange" when his eyes are wired open. Unlike Alex, you like it. The ad's scenario doesn't go terribly far, but considering where it starts, that might be a relief. The premise, once revealed, finally snaps your attention from the incomprehensible star to the suddenly comprehensible Mtn Dew Kickstart. It's likely a very productive return to the Super Bowl for Mtn Dew, absent for 16 years. And it's weird in the best Super Bowl-ian way.
Toyota, The Longest Chase
Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles
The Super Bowl 50 commercials for Buick, Mini and Toyota all carry whiffs of defensiveness: A guy is surprised that a cool convertible is a Buick, Randy Johnson wants you to know he really can fit inside a Mini, and the cops chasing robbers in a Prius warn dispatch that "this thing is actually pretty fast." But Toyota's take disarmingly it achieves its goal, countering negative suspicions instead of reinforcing them. "The Longest Chase" proceeds to play up product attribute after product attribute without a single hard sell. Great writing and acting make the full 90 seconds worth it. It's one of the most absorbing and entertaining ads in the game.
Avocados From Mexico, #AvosInSpace
The sophomore Super Bowl appearance for Avocados From Mexico shifts the action from last year's prehistoric setting to the far future, when Earth rates a midsize hall in an alien Museum of Natural History. It makes for one of the funniest commercials in Super Bowl 50, well-paced and delivered, with better-than-average use of the Super Bowl-staple celebrity cameo. As a happy bonus, the specific product pitch -- Mexico's avocados are always in season -- successfully reminds viewers to make guacamole more often.
Hear from Fortune 500 brands that have been forced to pivot as consumer preferences evolve, as well as entrepreneurs building brands from scratch to meet new consumer needs. This event peels apart the layers of brand building with a carefully crafted roster of top marketing, technology, and creative leaders.Learn more
Budweiser, Not Backing Down
Budweiser made a bold move in last year's Super Bowl by taking on the microbrews nipping at its Clydesdales' hooves. Plenty of beer drinkers would argue that Bud didn't have much to go on, product-wise, and punching down almost never looks good, but the 2015 ad somehow pulled it off. "Let them drink their pumpkin peach ale," the voice-over said. (Small brewers subsequently trolled Bud by rolling out actual pumpkin peach beers in response.) This year Budweiser brought back the theme with another impressive execution, including glimpses of Clydesdales that convey the animals' power better than any of the recent stuff with puppies. (It's the first time they look like impressive beasts instead of versions of Santa's reindeer.) "Not Backing Down" dismisses smaller brewers as hobbyists and even proclaims that Bud is "not for everyone," as if it's the one that's favored by sophisticated palates. It's playfully rude, macho without bullying.
Hyundai wants you to know about a compelling product attribute: "auto-emergency braking with pedestrian detection." But it wants you to care, too. So "Ryanville" sends two women to a town where everyone is Ryan Reynolds. Thankfully, they're driving a car "that doesn't get distracted." Where Avocados From Mexico uses Scott Baio perfectly judiciously, Hyundai and Innocean use Reynolds perfectly extravagantly. They might even get a little extra mileage from using a star now appearing in countless ads for the upcoming film "Deadpool." Extra credit for the Salt-N-Pepa "Whatta Man" soundtrack.
No More, Text Talk
Grey New York
NoMore.org, the group formed in 2013 to battle domestic violence and sexual assault, gets a second consecutive go in the Super Bowl, even though the league isn't feeling the same kind of pressure that the Ray Rice scandal engendered during the 2014 season. Its first Super Bowl ad played simulated audio of a 911 call in which a woman pretended to order pizza as she covertly alerted the operator that she was not safe at home. The new spot, also from Grey New York, is also chilling in a surprising way. Asked via text whether she's OK, a woman struggles to answer, as seen via the dots that appear on an iPhone when you start typing a reply -- and disappear when you delete what you were about to say.
NFL, Super Bowl Babies Choir
Grey New York
"Data suggests nine months after a Super Bowl victory, winning cities see a rise in births," the NFL informs us at the beginning of its coast-to-coast, Seal-tastic paean to "Super Bowl babies," which spans three 10-second spots and a 60-second main event. (Ad Age reporter E.J. Schultz asked to see the data, by the way, without luck.) "It is a day," Super Bowl babies sing, "so super it's why we were born." You'd think this was overreach. Instead it's stirring, emotional, and makes you want your team to get the win that much more. The "Football Is Family" messaging is a step too far but easy to overlook.
Kia, Walken Closet
David & Goliath
A funny premise and perfect delivery by Christopher Walken nearly pay off when Walken urges the beige protagonist to join "the ones who stand out" by ... driving a new midsize sedan. Plenty of points for charisma and droll humor, but viewers may agree with a still-hungry Walken at the end as he urges, "Punch it, Richard! C'mon, punch it!"
Quicken Loans, What We Were Thinking
"Here's what we were thinking," the voice-over begins, as a background score kicks in to provide some forward momentum. It's not quite Anthony Michael Hall's introduction to "The Breakfast Club" ("Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong...."). But it's intriguing to a surprisingly similar degree. If Quicken and Fallon's line of thought turns out to resemble a self-interested, not-exactly-rock-solid National Association of Realtors pitch -- homeownership inherently lifts the entire American economy! -- their vision is painted so winningly that viewers shouldn't mind. Let's hear it for wooden leg-makers, and for "PUSH BUTTON GET MORTGAGE" fantasies.
Helen Mirren won an Academy Award for her title role in "The Queen," but she deserves a prize, too, for the King of Beers' first anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad since 2006. She turns a minute-long, unbroken lecture into an absolute pleasure, probably even for people who'd been planning to "drive carefully" on their way home from watching the game.
PayPal, There's a New Money in Town
Crispin Porter & Bogusky L.A.
With echoes of those previews for "The Wolf of Wall Street" that used Kanye West's throbbing "Black Skinhead" as a soundtrack, PayPal comes to the Super Bowl with a more aggressive vibe than the amiable brand has projected in the past. It's not just the score or the quick cuts, it's the insults tossed at "old money" -- you know, the money that wears suspenders, uses green lampshades and closes at 5 p.m. It's not an entirely coherent critique in a world where consumers can access their "old money" bank accounts throughout the day via smartphone, but it's true that PayPal offers some additional flexibility. In any event, PayPal and CP&B L.A. get in viewers' faces and make an impression. PayPal brand awareness was already high. Watch it rise, along with favorability scores.
Strong performances make for a winning Super debut for Amazon. It's a celebrity-packed party at Alec Baldwin's house, where the repartee is witty and the feuds are petty. Luckily Baldwin has an Amazon Echo to regulate the lights, music and barbs. Then there's also the ginormous Super Bowl audience watching the commercial, as Baldwin points out to keep Jason Schwartzman from sacking Dan Marino "so hard."
Colgate, Save Water
Who says pro-social advertising is dying? Coca-Cola has pivoted from the high-minded "Open Happiness" campaign that saw it take on internet bullying in the 2015 Super Bowl, but that doesn't mean Colgate can't win some points by standing up for something good. Like Axe's "Find Your Magic," "Save Water" is a cut-down version of a pre-existing ad. But most viewers won't know it, or care even if they do. It's just a distinctive message on a day of consumerism. It should work for Colgate, a first-time Super Bowl advertiser.
An energetic original song and scenes of all kinds of powerful Jeep-y activities make this spot one of the poppier ones on the Super Bowl 50 roster. It doesn't scream "event advertising" some like Super Bowl epics, but it goes down better than many on a day when we're all supposed to be having fun.
Shock Top, Unfiltered Talk
In addition to its usual Budweiser and Bud Light ads, Anheuser-Busch InBev bought time for a couple of sibling brands, Michelob Ultra and Shock Top, its unfiltered Belgian-style wheat ale. Smack talk flies between T.J. Miller (HBO's "Silicon Valley") and Wedgehead, the smart-talking orange-slice mascot for the brand -- hopefully no relation to lemon wedge violently flicked off a beer in Bud's "Not Backing Down" ad. What could seem small in a Super Bowl ad roster filled with car chases, bear chases and Hulk chases turns out to work well, with dialogue worth listening to and a tone that's just right for the target audience.
Axe, Find Your Magic
The formerly ultra-horny young-men's grooming brand Axe has been trying something different in a campaign from 72andSunny begun last month: encouraging its target to find their magic, whatever that may be, and not to worry about sixpacks, or possibly even gender roles. Axe's "Make Love Not War" in the 2014 game was also more romantic than the brand's broader oeuvre, which often seemed like the creative director was "pickup artist" Mystery (originator of the concept "negging"). But this goes further, and is more relatable to boot. The spot that Super Bowl viewers saw on Sunday was actually a 30-second version of a 60-second ad already in circulation, and even though it trims the guy-guy eye-lock of the longer original, it keeps the men dancing in heels. It's an interesting shift toward the kind of affirmation that sibling Unilever brand Dove has tried to bring women over the years, and ought to play better with millennials' reputedly more enlightened view on things. It's also more likely to stand out than another execution in the prior Axe vein.
T-Mobile, Drop the Balls
Steve Harvey's mistaken crowning of Miss Colombia as Miss Universe last December (Miss Philippines really won) continues to pay off, perhaps most surprisingly for Harvey himself, who's now gotten a Super Bowl ad gig out of it. While T-Mobile and Sprint have already run parodies of Verizon's inescapable ads using rolling balls to symbolize wireless performance, maybe this one will finally put a stop to the whole uncompelling shtick.
Bud Light, Bud Light Party
Wieden & Kennedy
You assumed months ago that fast-rising Amy Schumer would star in at least one Super Bowl ad. Bud Light smartly made it theirs, dispensing with sending unfamous people into giant Pac-Man mazes to deploy stars this time around, with a script no less. The results is a pretty funny election-themed bit, complete with sexual innuendo that's surprising for the Super Bowl but not for CBS, home to "Two Broke Girls." It might not tempt former Bud Light drinkers to switch back, but it's an effective share-defense and welcome to the party for new drinkers.
T-Mobile, Restricted Bling
"Perfect!" an executive at a rival cellular carrier tells Drake, who's taping a commercial. "Here are the changes." It's funny from the start, not just to the adland crowd that endures this kind of note on every shoot. It sells you something you want: a cellphone plan without a lot of caveats. And it's got Drake's thematically appropriate 2015 smash "Hotline Bling."
Honda, A New Truck to Love
Talking animals are practically the price of admission for a Super Bowl ad, so it's nice to see a marketer and its agency go one step further with sheep that sing. Not only that, they absolutely nail Queen's "Somebody to Love." By virtue of shelling out for a minute-long spot, Honda also has time to spell out the pitch: The 2017 Ridgeline is the only truck offering a truck-bed audio system. But it's a narrow feature; the reveal on the source of the voice-over probably makes slightly more impact on viewers.
Audi, The Commander
Venables Bell & Partners
If only it were really so easy to pull your loved ones out of an existential funk as … well, as giving them a car with a six-figure price tag. Audi's not the only automaker that used Super Bowl 50 to push a product that's out of reach to most; see also Acura's "What He Said" for the NSX supercar. You could argue, however, that lifting a product's appeal among a great, great, great number of people who will never afford one could increase the appeal to those elites who can. What's luxury without your friends' envy? Issues of accessibility aside, "The Commander" will leave many viewers with goosebumps, not to mention the urge to get behind the wheel of an Audi R8. It's not a rocketship to the moon, but now we want to see how close it is.
Acura, What He Said
Acura advertised its NSX supercar in the Super Bowl once before, in 2012, when its commercial pit gearheads Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno against each other for the first one off the production line. Now the NSX has a Super Bowl ad again, because the production line actually exists. Not that it will be terribly busy: At a starting price of $156,000, Acura estimates annual demand will total just 800 vehicles. Nonetheless, or perhaps therefore, here's a car ad that successfully stokes desire. Molten metal and arcing sparks suggest the machine-birth of the NSX, accompanied by Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil" (lest you mistake the work in progress for a Prius or Leaf). Early indicators suggest at least some gender divide on the appeal of this ad. Acura might be fine with that.
Coca-Cola, Coke Mini
Wieden & Kennedy
Two media and marketing giants, Coca-Cola and Walt Disney Co.'s Marvel empire, team up to promote one another, to satisfactorily amusing effect. Given Ant-Man's fitting role here promoting Coke's diminutive cans, it's no surprise that the spot feels like "Ant-Man" in theaters: Hardly a heart-stopper, but sometimes as charming as "Ant-Man" actor Paul Rudd himself. Rudd's more engaging in "Bud Light Party," of course, where you can actually see his face. Still, it's a welcome, soda-selling turn from last year's spot bemoaning internet bullying.
Marmot, Love the Outside
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Who couldn't love the large rodent mascot of this ad? He or she is as adorable an animal friend as you'll find in the Super Bowl, if also a much friendlier animal than you'll find in the wild. He or she looks good in Marmot-brand gear, as does his/her human camper buddy, so they make a nice Super Bowl pitch team for the product. A little twist at the end makes the spot memorable.
Hyundai, The Chase
The bear chase kicking off this spot would be scary enough even without memories of Leonardo DiCaprio's bear fight from "The Revenant" fresh in many viewers' minds. The humans can drive away to safety, however, once one of them tells his watch to, as hey-look-they-can-talk bears put it, "talk-start that car." As product features go, it's cool, but couldn't sustain the kind of aggressive ad Acura turned in for its NSX supercar. So a thriller-turned-comedy has to do, and does pretty well.
Taco Bell, Bigger Than Futbol
Deutsch Los Angeles
In a clever PR stunt, Taco Bell began taking pre-orders for its new Quesalupa on Feb. 1, nearly a week before it would reveal exactly what product anyone had pre-ordered. ("Trust us?" it asked on its Ta.co website.) No matter that the internet immediately correctly guessed what was being offered; the internet wrote all about it, which was 80% of the point. The Super Bowl commercial itself is a little less clever but it's brisk and studded with entertaining cameos, including not just Taco Bell endorser James Harden but "Texas Law Hawk" Bryan Wilson, known online for over-the-top legal advertising, and Giorgio Tsoukalos, star of History Channel's "Ancient Aliens."
Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners
Celebrities recite the kinds of labels that have attached to Mini in the United States to show how inaccurate they are. It's surprisingly moving when Abby Wambach says "This is a gay car," with air quotes around gay-as-an-insult. Later it's legitimately surprising when 6-foot, 10-inch former Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson stoops over to imply that Mini is not a "short man's car." Mini is the one that played up its small size in its early, much-admired marketing, which included a print ad showing the car slaloming between the staples binding a magazine. Ultimately momentum builds, only to ebb when Harvey Keitel says "This car doesn't care what you call it." A lot of consumers still want cars that people don't call names.
SoFi.com, Great Loans for Great People
San Francisco-based SoFi looks around at passers-by and pleasantly decrees some of them "great" but most of them not. You don't know what the criteria is, but you try to guess. That guy's great? Oh, OK. But not her? This game is hard. Once SoFi reveals itself as some kind of lender and invites you to its website to see if you're great, checking your credit score has never seemed so fun. On the subject of your greatness, the ad's original version concluded that "you're probably not," an entertaining note of we-might-not-even-want-your-business. Sadly, the company decided it wasn't authentic to the brand promise of "identifying greatness in people" and axed the kicker.
Wix.com's ad manages to have it a couple of ways a couple of times. First it harnesses DreamWorks Animation to do all the creative lifting and provide some audience-pleasing intellectual property (in exchange for letting the studio promote "Kung Fu Panda 3"). Then it pleases the kids and the adults with a multiple levels of humor: Every Super Bowl needs at least one meta ad, and Wix is game, with nods to other ads including Budweiser's "Frogs" and Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like."
"Mobile Strike," Fight
The increasingly entertaining "Mobile Strike" campaign starring Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers just the right amounts of mayhem and humor. It rises on maxed-out production values and a three-word line for Schwarzenegger at the end that feels like it could have been a catchphrase from one of his movie hits.
FitBit, Get Fit in Style
Four people segue between work or social life and gym life with their $200 Blaze FitBit wearables, with swappable bands for any occasion. The ad was FitBit's Super Bowl debut -- other newbies included Amazon, Apartments.com, Colgate, Marmot, PayPal, Persil and SoFi -- and it's functional enough, although not likely to be among the most recalled.
BBDO New York
The "you're not you when you're hungry" gag has become familiar enough that even a hard tackle on Betty White might not get Super Bowl viewers sitting up straight any more. In this year's installment, Marilyn Monroe is hungry, and as such, is Willem Defoe. It's a relief to see her smiling face once she gets a bite of Snickers, but it takes comic relief from Eugene Levy to leave viewers themselves feeling satisfied.
How many dads whisper words of inspiration to their kids about video games? It almost doesn't matter, because the preceding scenes of children challenging themselves before that are enough to make a Pokémon commercial unexpectedly heartwarming.
Squarespace, Real Talk With Key and Peele
After an essentially 100% "ommmmmmm" ad in 2015 that was funny but unlikely to hold a chatty, chaotic room of Super Bowl viewers, Squarespace sharpens the point with Comedy Central stars Key and Peele as a pair of sports talkers who need a website. These guys hold their own all the way through the pitch: "Squarespace make all your jams come true." Squarespace complimented the ad with promises of live Key and Peele video commentary on its website throughout the game Sunday.
Apartments.com, Moving Day
Viewers who are already familiar with Apartments.com's wacky campaign starring Jeff Goldblum as Brad Bellflower, Silicon Valley maverick, may get more out of this ad than newcomers on Super Bowl Sunday. For those who know Goldblum/Bellflower, "Moving Day" is an escalation and a party. For the rest, it's less accessible. The theme song to "The Jeffersons," and scenes of the choir singing it helping people move, does put the focus on getting a nice new apartment. But it's a pretty soft focus. And when George Washington and Lil Wayne (nickname Weezy -- get it?) show up, even Goldblum is distracted.
Heinz, Wiener Stampede
Wiener dogs dressed as hot dogs stampede down a hill, shades of the EDS classic "Cat Herders" from 2000, getting viewers to go awww. And viewers will stay in that frame of mind as long as they don't think too hard about the dogs' destination: the arms of Heinz condiments, their final appointments before inevitably being eaten. Despite the vanishingly quick glimpses of the full product line that Heinz wants to emphasize, the number of condiment-people waiting for dogs at least gets across that there's variety there.
Michelob Ultra, Breathe
SunTrust's ad on Sunday told you to hold your breath to experience financial anxiety, but Michelob Ultra's Super Bowl ad, directed by Antoine Fuqua, wants you to go ahead and breathe: first hard, as you exercise, then easy, with a low-calorie beer. (A Gatorade might seem like a better choice, but Michelob Ultra is paying the bills here.) The brand's position is "low impact," but its ad is potentially low-impact, too, with a total lack of dialogue or musical soundtrack.
Pinnacle Advertising in Schaumburg, Ill.
WeatherTech has been hitting the same made-in-America note for three Super Bowls in a row now. The latest spot also resembles last year's ad very closely. But some marketers might call it brand reinforcement, and it's hard to deny the effectiveness of the American-factory theme. The automotive floormat marketer has also improved on last year's version, which emphasized a prosaic product to a fault. This time WeatherTech tells a more human story, mixing the product pitch and made-in-America story with tableaus of workers in the surprisingly cool-looking floormat plant and a scene of one arriving home to his family after work.
Intuit / Death Wish Coffee, Storm's a-Brewin'
Round Lake, N.Y.-based Death Wish Coffee burst into this year's Super Bowl via Intuit's revived Small Business Big Game contest, which previously awarded a Super Bowl ad to toy company GoldieBlox in 2014, and goes big with a Viking epic on the high seas. These Vikings are eager to die, natch, but the metaphor requires an indulgence or two. Is Death Wish that much more more dangerous for boating than other hot coffees? That said, the spot has special effects, drama, plot and a plan to stamp a brand identity in your brain.
Jublia, Best Kept Secret
The involvement of human former NFL players upgrades Jublia's all-CGI creative from 2015, making the toenail-fungus treatment's return to the big game a bit easier to watch.
Schick Hydro, Robot
J. Walter Thompson
A new razor and an old model turn into robots when their owner isn't looking and fight to the death. So much for valuing your elders' wisdom. The pitch -- "a hydrating gel reservoir that gives you 40% less friction" -- is as hard to accept literally as any other razor come-on, but viewers will understand that it probably refers to something good. And who doesn't like progress? Or fighting robots? Unfortunately a decent commercial in other contexts doesn't always match up on Super Bowl Sunday.
Pepsi, Joy of Pepsi
The Marketing Arm
Charismatic Pepsi endorser Janelle Monáe dances through various eras of popular American music in Pepsi's lead-in to its halftime show. The bit is reminiscent of the brand's ad starring Britney Spears performing in a variety of decade-specific set pieces, just with less energy and scope. By the end it seems like Monáe is killing time until Coldplay comes on.
LG, Man From the Future
Liam Neeson, star of the entertaining "Clash of Clans" commercial in last year's game, returns to Super Bowl duty in an ad for LG OLED TVs that sees him playing his older self, dropping nonsensical knowledge on his younger self (who's played by his son Michael Neeson, not that viewers will know it). The "Tron" imagery is all right, if harder to make out without all the neon piping to light the way, but the product doesn't get much screen time.
TurboTax, Never a Sellout
Wieden & Kennedy
TurboTax hammers its brand name into every possible opening under cover of mocking overbearing product placement. Unfortunately it's a familiar tactic that depends on clever writing to avoid becoming its own target. "The Colbert Report" made it work with bits like "Hail to the Cheese: Stephen Colbert's Nacho Cheese Doritos 2008 Presidential Campaign." A 2011 Bud Light Super Bowl ad added some motivation by picturing a movie cast and crew who've realized they get free stuff if they work it into their scenes. Here Anthony Hopkins tells an interviewer he would never tarnish his name by selling you something, lifting his TurboTax.com teacup. That's just the start, but the payoff never arrives.
Persil ProClean, #1 Rated
Not every Super Bowl ad needs a PuppyBabyMonkey is. What about 15 seconds of comparative advertising, bragging about how a little-known brand topped every big player in the category on a performance test, delivered by ultraclean-looking actor Peter Hermann? Hermann doesn't get much to do, even in his role as the "debonair, tuxedo-wearing, stain-fighting superhero, The Professional," as Persil ProClean describes his character. The ad won't win any popularity contests. And its hashtag #gamedaystains is something shy of a surefire trending topic. But these 15 seconds will probably move some upstart-product.
Advil, Distant Memory
Grey New York
A serviceable painkiller ad that could grab the attention of a few folks lingering near the TV during a break, but nothing memorable.
Skittles, The Portrait
Despite the celebrity turn, it feels more like a commercial to run during an after-school special than in the Super Bowl, and not just because it's a candy ad. The weird mansion setting evokes a "Scooby-Doo" episode, and Steven Tyler may be better suited for an amusing cameo than top billing. Skittles and DDB Chicago's "Settle It" from the 2015 Super Bowl told an equally weird story more fully, and squeezed in a little more emphasis on the product.
Leo Burnett Detroit
Having decided it needs to nearly apologize for its brand -- a shocked wedding guest asks "That convertible's a Buick?" about a car he likes -- Buick does its best in a tough situation. Model Emily Ratajkowski makes a spectacular catch of the bride's bouquet, leading onlookers to take turns saying she "O'Delled it," a reference to New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (also in attendance). There's a halfhearted gesture toward humor when even the older lady chimes in with "totally O'Delled it." Surprise, a senior citizen understands what's going on!
A constipated man wanders through a black-and-white discomfort-scape as AstraZeneca-backed "OIC is Different" raises awareness about a side effect of opioid painkillers. Whether or not the spot proves effective (AstraZeneca markets a treatment called Movantik), the spot introduced a touch of malaise that the ads had thus far avoided.
Doritos, Doritos Dogs
The final year of Doritos' long-running "Crash the Super Bowl" user-generated ad contest is not producing the effort's best work. A cute ending salvages the slow start for "Doritos Dogs," but the totem-pole trench coat routine is so familiar (last year BuzzFeed ran a listicle headlined, "53 Signs Your Boyfriend Is Really Three Children in a Trenchcoat") that it's going to get a groan at best from many viewers.
SunTrust, Hold Your Breath
"Hold your breath," SunTrust tells viewers having fun on Super Bowl Sunday. "Hold it. Hold it. What you're feeling now is just like financial stress." Thanks, SunTrust! What's worse is that an ad ostensibly aimed at encouraging consumers to stop sweating their finances never quits with the ominous ticking-clock sounds. "So now, let go, and breathe," the voice-over finally says, in precisely the same intimidating tone as before. "Feel that relief?" Do you? Why is the clock still ticking like that? Could we get some pop music to help turn the corner? Viewers who want to join this movement will have to visit OnUp.com to actually find out anything about it.
Where "Doritos Dogs" was a little flat, "Ultrasound" goes on too long. A father-to-be snacking during his wife's ultrasound is grating enough before it starts agitating the fetus. The conclusion, which goes way beyond that, is like a horror movie. Many winners of Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" contests over the years have impressed ad reviewers far less than the public, which regularly voted them to the top of USA Today's annual Ad Meter popularity contest. This might be one that doesn't make either cohort happy. … Cue the teenagers in the audience to prove me wrong.