Once again, the Super Bowl felt less like a game-long showcase of what the ad industry is capable of and more like any given Sunday, or Tuesday - a few great commercials mixed in a bunch of stuff that ranged from forgettable to actively awful.
There were high points, which, of course included Deutsch L.A.'s The Force for VW, which gained huge buzz before the game. It was a spot that could have been cloying but, with help from director Lance Acord, achieved broad appeal while still being interesting.
Whatever your take on Em's new commercials career, you had to agree that Wieden's Born of Fire spot for Chrysler was powerful and well made. It was an ambitious spot that demanded attention and felt equal to the venue, and with the legacy of the teams on the field, its tone couldn't have been more fitting. But a spot like that always inspires a kind of nervousness, which on a bad day could turn into cynicism. The spot makes some a big statement and these days, it feels like big statements of that sort need to be backed up with a great product of course, but also with a real-life commitment to the values espoused in the spot - in this case rebuilding Detroit - that goes beyond a great tag line. If these things are happening (here's where a social media tie-in might have worked), great. Maybe because the agency has already built a campaign that went beyond talking about American rebirth (Levi's), the expectations are higher.
The worst: Groupon. Forget about offensive, they were just heavy-handed and bad. Not funny, not worth the risky material (even after the aha reveal that there is a social good component).
Also: Pepsi Max. Ugh.
And, of course GoDaddy, which we won't dignify by discussing.
We didn't agree with AdAge's spot ratings, but we think our sibling's TV expert Brian Steinberg might be onto something, calling for Bud and Pepsi to give the game a pass in 2012.
The social media bowl?
Mullen once again orchestrated its Brandbowl effort, measuring social media activity around brands' Super Bowl entries. VW topped the BrandBowl rankings, followed by Chrysler. Groupon came in third, but mainly on the back of negative feedback. As one Twitter commenter summed up: "Well. Off to buy a new #Chrysler, drink a #Coke, switch to #Verizon, unsubscribe to #Groupon and fire #GoDaddy. Night #superbowl."
Colle+McVoy also broke down SB buzz with its Super Chatter XLV site. The agency's chatter-meter provided info-graphical breakdowns of not just ad feedback, but social media activity around things like players, teams and movies using tools including Collective Intellect, Radian6 and Colle+McVoy's own Twitter analytics tool Squawq.
But, overall, XLV felt bereft of actual social media or other participatory efforts around the big media buy. The game had been hyped as the social media bowl but was in fact notable for its lack of digital integration. Deep Focus' Ian Schafer discusses the unsocial Super Bowl on the Deep Focus blog.In any event, here, our picks for the top 5 spots in Super Bowl XLV. Watch all the spots here.
VW:The Force. VW's other entry, Black Beetle was another top 10 spot. The agency also created a digital tie-in, with a YouTube-destroying version of the spot, reminiscent of Warioland Shakeit.
Chrysler: Born of Fire
NFL: American Family. Don't miss the side-by-side comparison, with and without CG touches here.
Coca-Cola: The Siege
Carmax: Kid in a Candy Store