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My 2012 Super Bowl commercials report card

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I know that the last thing the world needs is another Super Bowl commercials top 5 list but since my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t playing this year I had nothing better to do.

TOP 5

M&M’s “Just My Shell”
I have loved the M&M’s commercials for a long time because they are so funny and since they have stayed with the same campaign it has let them develop their characters into real personalities. They can then really cash in on that multi-commercial story arc and character development to use that cast of characters as foil for introduce a new character like the new Brown M&M.
Watch the commercial here

Chevy “Apocalypse”
I think that day-to-day car advertising is pretty forgettable and it usually only deviates from the formula to become an overblown and still pretty forgettable spectacle for the Super Bowl. This year Chevy was able to walk the line this year as their Apocalypse commercial was clearly a spectacle but it was sprinkled with enough humor that it created something an audience could connect with. Plus anytime you can get Barry Manilow and Twinkles in one commercial you get bonus points.
Watch the commercial here

Acura NSX “Transactions”
I can’t put this commercial on my list without first saying that I have to laugh at the fact that Acura is advertising a car that isn’t going to be available for at least 3 years and is going to cost over $200,000 when it hits the showroom floor. That being said Acrua’s advertising has been bland and devoid of any personality for too long so this was a nice change to see Acura have a little more attitude, humor and ownership of their automotive design leadership.
Watch the commercial here 

Best Buy “Innovators”
This was a nice change of pace for Best Buy with even a little humor thrown thanks to the Words with Friends creators. The ad does start to break down if you thought about the content for too long. The brand was just standing the shoulders of real innovators but the change in tone helped it stand out and make an impression. I think long-term the brand needs to a more substantial impact if they want to keep from becoming  the local showroom for Amazon.com purchases but that has more to do with the business itself than the advertising.
Watch the commercial here

Bud Light “Here Wego Rescue Dog”
This was clearly the year of the dog as it seemed like every other commercial featured a four-legged friend as its centerpiece. I liked this one the best because the entire spot including the name of the dog tied back to their campaign and made the product the hero.
Watch the commercial here 

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

Volkswagen “Dog Strikes Back”
I was impossible to think that VW was going to be able to replicate the huge success of the Mini Darth Vader commercial from last years Super Bowl.  This headed to the top of my most disappointing list because VW went back to the well one too many times with the Star Wars tie in.  Both the commercial from last year and the teaser for this year’s commercial with the dogs barking the Star Wars theme were genius. The dog loosing weight to be able to chase cars again was cute but Star Wars Cantina commercial within a commercial at the end was just a sad attempt to get everyone to remember that they were the brand who had a good commercial last year instead of creating a new one this year.
Watch the commercial here

Samsung Galaxy “Thing Called Love”
I think that how Samsung decided to take on Apple with their Galaxy ad campaign that made fun of the early adopters and creative wanna-be’s was really smart and effective.  But to then take all that dry wit and unspoken consumer insight and have it get caught up in another overblown Superbowl spectacle, forgettable Glee rip off is a shame.
Watch the commercial

Budweiser – “Return of the King” and “Eternal Optimism”
Viewed individually these are the types of commercials that make the professional side of me cringe because I know how much money had to spent to create them. They started with the “Return of the king” commercial showing Budweiser supposed role after prohibition was repealed.   It then moved on to a time traveling montage in “Eternal Optimism” showing major moments through the decades leading up to the present day. I will start by saying that I get they are showing Budweiser heritage and how long they have been around but why do I care? The “Return of the King” ad stripped all the personality out of the Clydesdale horses they had built up over the past few Super Bowls and told a story about an era none of us could relate to. When I look at “Eternal optimism” I see a commercial that showed a bunch of events where the product serves as nothing more than a visual transition between events and you could have replaced the Budweiser bottle with Pepsi, Coke or a lot of other brands it would have worked just as well.
Watch the commercial

Honda CR-V Beuhler
On paper the Honda CR-V commercial that played on the nostalgic return of Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller had all the elements to be the VW Mini Darth Vader of this years Super Bowl. It even started out so well with the short YouTube teaser getting everyone abuzz about the possibility of what could be in the final commercial. But the ad itself landed with a thud for me because since it only repeated a few of the icon lines of dialog it didn’t make us reminisce, take us back to a younger day like Little Darth Vader or do much of anything except to show that they were able to spend a lot of money on a wasted licensing deal.
Watch the commercial

 

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Sketchers “Go Run”
The Sketchers commercial featuring a small tan French bulldog racing a pack of greyhounds wasn’t the greatest commercial of the night but it was a surprise. I say that because I know that I’ve seen Sketchers commercial over the years but I couldn’t being to tell you what one of them was about. So in the most basic sense the commercial did what it was supposed to do – raise awareness about the brand and get talked about the day after.
Watch the commercial

 

WORST 5

Cars.com “Confident You”
Maybe it was just me but the small singing “confidence” head was like listening to nails on a chalk board.  I refuse to believe that my confidence is so annoying and this is one of those commercials that will have me diving for the remote every time it’s on to change the channel.
Watch the commercial 

TaxAct.com “Feel the Free”
If five-year olds needed to get their taxes done this commercial probably would have been a huge success but since that isn’t the case  I don’t think I want a brand who handles my finances to be associated with the idiot kid who pees in the pool.
Watch the commercial 

Toyota Camry “It’s reinvented”
I see commercials like this and think the creative director at Toyota’s agency recently spent too much time in Japan and fell in love with their over the top style of TV shows and commercials.  The commercial spends all it’s time telling me the Camry is re-invented but I have no idea what that means and by the end I would rather buy the re-invented pizza curtains than the car because the curtains are more interesting.
Watch the commercial 

Century 21
Yet another example of how putting a bunch of celebrities in a commercial with no concept and no distinctive brand persona leads to a complete mess. Until I saw the logo at the end I had no idea if it was for Century 21 the real estate company or Century 21 the discount clothing store.
Watch the commercial

GoDaddy.com “Body Paint” and “Cloud”
I can’t decide what is worse – the mindless repetitive formula of GoDaddy.com commercials or the fact that is must be working since they keep doing it. Like I said last year, they are the trailer park of advertising – cheap, trashy and no one wants to go there unless they have to.
Watch the commercial 

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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