Garfield Wrong on Religion ... and Skipped Best Super Bowl Ad

Letters, Feb. 15, 2010

Published on .

RE: Bob Garfield's "WWJD: He'd Skip Most of This Year's Super Bowl Ads" (AA, Feb. 8).

As a lifelong Saints fan, I must thank most of the marketers. Your mediocre spots allowed my guests time to socialize, eat and take the requisite bathroom breaks without missing the real reason to be watching the TV!

Google was brilliant, an exquisite example of what a leader in a category (Google "owns" more than 60% of the "search" category) should do for its brand. A terrific branded spot, reaffirming the benefits of the product (simplicity of "use" and excellent delivery of the "results") wrapped up in an emotional envelope so universal it connects with almost anyone.

Thanks for the fun analysis of the Super Bowl ads.

The Google ad was good because it told a story, but I still think it needed at least a voice-over on the tag at the end.

The Super Bowl is the one time in a year that people actually watch the ads. The rest of the time, people are only half paying attention, if at all. As I recall, the Coke "Sleepwalker" and Vizio ads also did not include any voice-over. These ads weren't even effective [Super Bowl] night when everyone was actively watching them. The advertisers have wasted money because distracted consumers will not even hear a message when/if they run again.

I also agree about the commercials that are offensive to women. When I saw the horrible ads for internet hosting -- I refuse to further publicize the company by repeating its name -- on the 2009 Super Bowl, I moved my one domain registration held by it to another company before the next commercial break even began. When will this advertiser and others like it learn about the buying power of women?

The ads were, overall, a fairly mediocre collection. But perhaps the most disappointing trend was that so much of the "new" creative was basically recycled work from past SB ads or existing campaigns. Anheuser-Busch, Teleflora, Dr Pepper, E-Trade, and all ran spots that said to the consumer, "Hey, we know you've seen this before, but just stick with it for 30 seconds, OK?" Aren't there any new ideas out there?

Google was the best spot, hands down -- although I question its effectiveness, as it required a sober and attentive audience.

A brand in the Super Bowl environment can only stand out if it's at the intersection of Surprise and Delight (mighty pretty country around there).

The Oprah/Leno/Letterman promo qualifies. The Google spot was a fresh, brand-specific way to tell a charming story. Few of the other spots will be remembered next week unless repeated with mind-numbing frequency.

And since they all flow together as fuzzy animals getting blindsided in their underwear to define manhood, heavy spending may be the only way to make up for a feeble premise.

I knew all along that Brett Favre would be in the Super Bowl this year. Thanks, Hyundai.

Wow. I agree with almost every word you said. I do give Snickers and Emerald a little bit of a break (it's snack food, after all). But other than that, your list is pretty much my list.

I think Audi made a great call. The brand needed to lighten up and not be so freakin' precious. It was turning into a girly car, and "Green Police" clearly taps into something that is going on in our zeitgeist, agree with it or not.

It's fun to say with a wink and a smile that you can participate in being green without being so deathly dour and serious about it all. And more importantly: It's smart.

GoDaddy really needs to hire someone outside its company. It should be illegal at this point for it to do its own advertising. Can we please have an intervention?

The only people more predictable than Facebook users not liking the latest format changes are Super Bowl viewers who think this year isn't as good as previous years. How pathetic, trying to garner attention by being negative. I guess that applies to this, too, but, really, must we always hear a litany of complaints about how the spots aren't as good as years past?

Myself and our 47-member staff have enjoyed reading Advertising Age from the moment it first arrived in our West Coast offices. Your reporting on the cross section of our business is very informative, and your awards edition is a much-anticipated favorite around here. It gives us something to strive for. I also appreciate the fact that although you are cognizant of the political aspects of our industry, you remain above the fray and try to remain objective. Until now.

What in the world were you thinking when you rubber-stamped Bob Garfield's hatchet job against Christians in your Feb. 8 edition? Under the auspices of a Super Bowl assessment article, I found myself reading things like Tim Tebow is "famously Bible-thumping." Tebow by any measure is an amazing young man and a committed Christian who practices what he preaches, but you will never be able to cite an example of him thumping a Bible. This is a tired reference that harks back to the days of street preachers and tent revivals run all too often by charlatans who hijacked a legitimate faith that is shared by nearly 80% of Americans. To paint Mr. Tebow in that light is malicious and vindictive.

He says that the Tebow spot would not be controversial if it were not for the fact that the quarterback is anti-abortion. Think about that for a second. Have we come to a point in America, or at least in the elite classes that write your copy, that a person who supports the life of an innocent baby is "controversial," but those who wish to kill it in the womb are not? That is exactly what your writer stated, and you somehow felt it worthy of a cover spot. Why?

Worst of all, in stating these things, Mr. Garfield does not even try to mask his obvious pro-abortion stance, but he then ends with this jewel. "We won't say where we stand on the issue." Excuse me? He just made it abundantly clear where he stands on the issue. So I must ask who is "we?" Does he speak for you, or your publication? Do you have anyone in your organization that is pro-life, or is that "controversial" position reserved for the most ignorant amongst us who use their faith like a crutch as The New York Times so graciously stated a few years ago.

I can't tell you how offensive and unnecessary that attack piece was, and I hope that you will forward my comments to Mr. Garfield. Advertising Age is a fine publication and one that should foremost advance the inside dealings of our industry and, when necessary, report on the controversial aspects of it. But never should you create and contribute to that controversy by offending a great number of your readers who are Christians and share a view contrary to the establishment secular liberalism that permeates the minds of those in the Northeast.

I'm so, so tired of "men are idiots" advertising that has grown so popular. If aliens landed and watched the Super Bowl ads to get a sense of who we are, they'd conclude that we're pantless, drunken, insensitive, partying louts. Such advertising seems to appeal to our baser selves. Can't we as an industry do better, gang?

I have to believe GoDaddy's recall numbers were driven by how bad the ad was.

GoDaddy's ads are simply terrible on so many levels. It's a shame, since its original Super Bowl spot, "wardrobe malfunction," was a smart piece of social commentary based on the previous year's half-time-show incident. Since then the whole GoDaddy Girl, too hot for TV angle has been a complete joke.

It's a prime example of a company foolishly thinking it can do without the sharp creative thinking of a talented agency and instead produce a bunch of hack ideas created in-house that do nothing more than try to be outrageous. What a waste of millions of media dollars.

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