Lowlights: Bud "Smooth Monkey." First it was strings, then dark energy and now this assault on previously irrefutable laws of physics. In a review recently, I cited the absolute and always delightful truth that when it comes to ads, chimps is funny. Well, Budweiser has done the unthinkable and what would have been the previously imagined to be impossible-created a chimp commercial that's not only not funny but is actually making us reexamine our lifelong love affair with our hairy brethren as entertainers. As if it weren't enough that this spot trots out the always lamentable "animal/animal-type mascot trying to have sex with human female" chestnut, but implicating a chimp in this heinous crime? Where was PETA on this one? (For more appropriate monkey usage, see Dodge "Monkey on your Back."Heh Heh. Funny).
Other horrors: Gillette ""The Feeling of Gillette," which easily bagged the Gratuitous (Mis)Use of Muhammad Ali prize, and Bud "Sleigh Ride," which baffles even devoted fans of both juvenile humor and good Bud advertising.
The highlights were subtler this year. Among them: Mitsubishi "Freeway" from Deutsch/L.A. and Monster "Soul Mates" from Deutsch/New York; Pepsi "I Fought the Law," and FedEx "Jenkins" (fantastic execution!) from BBDO/New York (nice Visa spot too); AOL from Wieden; and some nice Chevy work from Campbell Ewald. One might assume that if agencies aren't breaking ground with virtuosic commercials for this bread and butter event, well, then they must be pushing new forms of marketing communications assuring their food chain ranking as the ad model evolves, but that hasn't necessarily been the case.
Post Super Bowl it was on to L.A. and Ad Age's Madison & Vine conference, where a who's who of entertainment, media and marketing leaders debated the central issues surrounding the intergration of advertising and entertainment. The subtext, gleaned from participants' comments and observing who were the who's leading the discussion: this stuff is happening, and if creative agencies don't assert their key role, they face irrelevance. The point here is that this shouldn't be a dialog held between media companies and clients only. Especially post Boob Bowl, it's clear that the agency community needs to be involved in, if not talking about ideas and entertainment, then actually creating them, in whatever form necessary.