Audi of America
Venables , Bell & Partners, San
Audi is another auto brand lucky enough to have visually
striking cars. You can recognize those headlights almost
immediately. This year the marketer decided to play up that
particular product attribute by crossing into the vampire genre.
It's a decent enough ad—the special effects are OK and the
sound track is great—but vampires are so, I don't know,
A complete 180 from last year's Bieber and Ozzie celeb-fest,
this ad pays tribute to the innovators behind all the little
doodads and apps that make our smartphones less like that thing
that used to reside in your living room and more like something
from Star Trek. The ad has some serious nerd cred (which may play
well in social-media circles) and even a sense of humor (the Words
With Friends segment is a nice touch). Now, the type of people who
recognize the inventors in this ad are not the type who shop at
Best Buy. Best Buy knows this. Hence this approach. Will it work?
Does not compute.
I still say Super Bowl fans want their Clydesdales acting like
people, not pulling a damn beer wagon. And they'll certainly be
wondering why Budweiser is running an ad about the end of
prohibition that isn't even, like, funny! But I guess Budweiser is
trying to undo years of goofy branding and latch on to a more
grown-up image. With "Return of the King" and "Eternal Optimism,"
Budweiser starts us off in bleak times—just like
today!—and promises things will get better, that —gosh
darnit—Americans always pull through, and Budweiser's always
been there to help. Too bad that "Eternal Optimism" spot seems
entirely too similar to PepsiCo "Generations" spot
starring Britney Spears a few years ago.
"Smarter. Bolder. Faster."
Red Tettemer & Partners,
If I worked in an ad agency and someone told me I'd be working
on a Super Bowl spot, I'd be thrilled. If they then told me I'd be
working on a spot for a real-estate company, I'd wander off into
the night, weeping gently, never to be seen again. Given the task
(and the economy), this is a respectable spot, featuring a Century
21 rep out-dealing Donald Trump (smarter), out-blinging Deion
Sanders (bolder) and out-skating Apollo Ohno (faster). Might not be
the talk of the water cooler, but not a stinker, either.
"Halftime in America"
Wieden & Kennedy, Portland,
The ghost of Ronald Reagan called. He wants his "Morning in
America" back. Chrysler enlists Clint Eastwood to return to the
down-but-not-out "Imported from Detroit" theme it surprised
everyone with last year. The ad will have some viewers bleary-eyed,
hands over their hearts just daring you to diss it, because you can
just love it or leave it, you little sniveling punk! But this is a
bit much. Sure, Clint's been around, and he's seen good times and
bad. And, like Budweiser, he promises we'll get through, just like
Detroit did (with the help of massive government bailouts?). But
why Clint? What's his connection to Chrysler or Detroit? Sure, he
shot "Gran Torino" in Motor City, but Gran Torino is a product of
that American car company that didn't need a bailout.
Wieden & Kennedy, Portland,
On offer are three spots, each featuring the polar bears
watching the game. One bear is wearing a red-and-white Giants
scarf. One is wearing a blue-and-gray Patriots scarf. (And because
the Giants are known as Big Blue, it took us three rounds of phone
calls and emails to get that straightened out.) Listen, the polar
bears are cute. But these two have all the personality of a block
of arctic ice. And, while it may have been technologically
challenging to make them react to the game, in a post-"Avatar,"
post-"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" world, it's going to take
more than this. Of the three, only the "Arrgggh" spot came close to
approaching the emotional level of reality-based football fans.
Grey , New York
Shouldn't this kid be in college by now? In this spot, the
E-Trade baby is counseling a new father as both look in on a
hospital nursery. Maybe it's the economy or maybe the E-Trade baby
is getting a little tired of this whole shtick, but he seems more
sedate than normal. Why isn't he busting this guy's chops? It's too
bad. This is one of the few ads consumers don't seem to tire of .
The speed-dating joke at the end was worth a chuckle, though.
Richards Group, Dallas
Yo, Fiat. Drop J Lo immediately. Hire this woman and this
agency. Stick with them. They seem to know how to make a car look
sexy, rather than like a cheap prop in a horrible music video. We
liked this ad when we saw it in November. We still like it now.
"Matthew's Day Off"*
RPA , Santa Monica, Calif.
Is this the first Super Bowl ad review that gets an asterisk?
Sure, why not? As of writing, I have no idea which 60 seconds of
this "Ferris Bueller" tribute are going to make it into the game.
Whatever the case, the ad relies almost entirely on nostalgia, a
powerful tool, but also a dangerous one. A depressing one, too!
It's no fun realizing that your generational cohort (Gen-X, in my
case) is now old enough to have marketers play on the dimming
memories of your childhood years. But that 's not the only reason
it's a dangerous play. Honda's initial 10-second teaser prompted a
flood of speculation about a "Ferris Bueller" sequel—which
could have led to the sort of social-media outrage that passes for
controversy these days. The ad itself? Consumers will remember this
crowd-pleaser as a visit with an old childhood friend, not as an ad
for a CR-V.
This ad will undoubtedly delight boomers and Gen-Xers alike,
chock-full as it is with dozens of cartoon characters from our
youths. The Peanuts gang, He-Man, Waldo, Scooby Doo, Marvin the
Martian. Holy crap, it's Voltron! But it raises more questions than
it answers. How many characters are in there? How did they get the
rights to hold this prom? What is Daphne doing in Richie Rich's
limousine? When did MetLife turn socialist? Here's the copy. "Every
family, everywhere, should have the financial security they need.
Not just the ones who can figure it out. Not just the most
fortunate. Everyone." What? Is MetLife offering its services for
free? Whatever. People will be too distracted by the visuals to pay
attention to this nonsense during the game.
Siltanen & Partners, Los
A cute little French bulldog takes to the Greyhound track and
tears up the competition thanks to his little Skechers. Sort of a
textbook Super Bowl ad: dog, underdog story (ha!), punch line, even
a semi-celebrity (Mark Cuban). I'm inclined to like it even more
since it's a complete departure from the company's repulsively bad
Kim Kardashian spot from last year.
After reinventing the Camry, Toyota shows us it's reinvented
other things: curtains made of pizza, free ice cream and smiles at
the DMV, policemen who give massages rather than tickets and
beat-downs. If they're going to rely on a series of one-note visual
jokes, they should probably be funnier than this. And neither of
those reinvented couches look very comfortable. Feed those models
some pork chops and carbs and then we'll talk.