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Super Bowl Ad Commentary by Hoag Levins

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Since the Super Bowl there has been a good deal of debate about Anheuser-Busch's "Applause" spot, with some European pundits even suggesting the third-quarter commercial was a marketing blunder.
Super Bowl 2005: 'Applause.'
Super Bowl 2002: 'Respect.'

Dissenting Opinions From Europe:

audio bug Alex Benady, London
audio bug Stefano Hatfield, 'The Guardian.'

They're wrong.

Emotional impact
As the author of's weekly TV Spots of The Week column, where I rated it my favorite Super Bowl ad, and also as a Vietnam veteran, I found that "Applause" touched into that 5,000-volt area of feelings about war and honor and death and duty in a way that brought tears to my eyes. It was a common reaction to an ad that physically extended beyond the TV screen. At last week's iMedia Summit in Bonita Springs, Fla., attendees began to spontaneously applaud as they watched the commercial -- literally becoming part of the airport terminal crowd in the spot.

In terms of a brand's need to emotionally connect with the true and most important feelings of its audience, this ad achieved a rare level of success. In terms of contrary international reaction, it is not surprising that many of the world's factions would find the ad as exactly repugnant as we find Osama bin Laden's video manifestos.

2000 'Respect'
In the end, "Applause," created by Omnicom's DDB, Chicago, was a work as brilliant as it was powerful. It will ultimately be as well-remembered as Anheuser-Busch's 2002 Super Bowl "Respect" spot that had the Clydesdales genuflecting in homage before the crater where the World Trade Center once stood.

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Hoag Levins is the editor of

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