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My 2013 Super Bowl commercials report card

Superbowl
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

The Superdome was the only thing lacking power last night as I was really disappointed by this years crop of Superbowl ads.  That is probably why the ad that I thought won the Superbowl wasn’t even on TV and it’s media placement didn’t cost a dime.

1 – Oreo’s Superdome blackout Twitter response

That’s right – for me the ad that won the Superbowl wasn’t even aired during the Superbowl broadcast. I really didn’t like Oreo’s TV commercial but their simple and incredibly nimble response to the Superdome blackout was nothing short of genius. They showed that in this new era of social media nimble can be even more effective than smart. They showed that a simple idea that was created FOR FREE and distributed over Twitter FOR FREE could win out again production value and huge ad spends. Maybe it is an overstatement but it feels like this might have been the moment when smart and nimble digital advertising finally surpassed traditional media thinking and spending.

2 – Samsung: The Big Pitch

It was nice to see Samsung take a break from mocking Apple to instead mock all the other Super Bowl ads. It was a funny twist for those who were paying attention Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are throwing out ideas they included talking babies (E-Trade), sending people to space (Axe and RedBull), crowdsourcing (Doritos, Audi, Coke) and Asian rappers (Wonderful Pistachios). I felt like they really didn’t even need LaBron James as the cameo at the end since it disrupted the rhythm that Paul and Seth had established.
Watch the commercial here.

3 -Ram Truck: Farmer

Clearly Ram’s ‘So God Made A Farmer” was this years anthem commercial which we saw last year with “Imported from Detroit”. The photo montage had a strong visual style and emotional and iconic voiceover. I understand that they went with the farmer as their subject matter because it clearly speaks to their blue-collar roots, has high empathy and no one wanted to see ‘So God made a lawyer”. I did leave me feeling like they could have pushed it a bit further than this simple execution but what they did was effective.
Watch the commercial here.

4 – GoDaddy .com: YourBigIdea.com

If you would have asked me yesterday I would have guaranteed you that hell would freeze over before a GoDaddy.com commercial made my Top 5. But here we are with GoDaddy.com finally dragging their brand out of the gutter with the help of a real ad agency and they made a real commercial that is relatable to everyone and makes their product the hero. It wasn’t anything earth shattering but in this year of less than stellar entries seeing a brand simple not suck was enough to find a place in my top 5.
Watch the commercial here.

5 – Jeep: Whole Again

I really debated if this commercial was going to make my top 5 and it was because the overall selection was so weak that it barely made the cut. I think this commercial did a good job of trying to reframe the Jeep brand image by tugging at everyone heartstrings by using soldiers as the focus of the commercial.  I wish the art direction had been more original than the stock footage montage style we have all seen a million times before. Then there is the voiceover where I was amazed that they were able to afford Oprah. at the same time I thought it was weird that they decided to put a graphic up at the beginning of the commercial saying Oprah was doing the voice over but i”m sure that was a client decision to be sure they got the highest possible return on their Oprah investment.  But more than that I thought the choice of Oprah as the choice for the voice of the Jeep brand was incredible strange as I don’t see the alignment between Oprah’s brand values and Jeep’s brand values.
Watch the commercial here.

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

BudLight: Lucky Chair

I thought that Bud Light’s ‘It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work” campaign has been really good throughout the football season.  It showed great insight into just how crazy football fans are for their team and was relatable since every fan has been that crazy person at one time or another. But their Superbowl VooDoo really didn’t do justice to this great campaign as it was reduced to the tired Superbowl formula of taking your good idea and adding a celebrity cameo – in this case Stevie Wonder.
Watch the commercial here.

Lincoln: Road Trip

I heard about this concept and thought it was interesting but after seeing the commercial all I have to say is how do you make Jimmy Fallon with social media collaboration boring? The car looks good but where is Jimmy Fallon and why is the commercial so weak I forgot about it before it was over?
Watch the commercial here.

Movie trailers outshine ad agencies

The biggest surprise for me was the lack of creativity in all the commercial this year. I don’t know who is to blame for this.  Is it clients trying to play it too safe or agencies who just couldn’t come up great ideas.  it was really sad to see the movie trailers were able to create more excitement and tell a better story than any commercial.

Pointless cliffhanger go-to URL’s

I was amazed that there wasn’t a single good use of the get more content or cliffhanger URL in any commercial.  It is so sad that agencies and clients still don’t really understand the power of digital to capitalize on consumer’s interest and how it can create channel shift.

 

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Soda Stream: The Soda Stream Effect
Great ad that made the product the hero and clearly illustrated it value proposition with exploding 2-liter bottles used as a great way to illustrate an environmental claim.
Watch the commercial here.

 

WORST 5

1 – Blackberry: My New Blackberry

Let me get this straight – You are in a battle for your company’s life against successful and feature laden phone from Apple and Samsung and “In 30 seconds, it’s quicker to show you what it can’t do.”. SERIOUSLY?!? You are dropping millions on a Superbowl commercial and can’t be bothered to offer up even one whiz-bang feature that would make us pay attention to your brand again? For a strategy that stupid you deserve to go out of business and continue to see your market share drop like a rock.
Watch the commercial here.

2 – GoDaddy: Perfect Match

Even though GoDaddy.com did the impossible this year and found their way onto my Top 5 they still couldn’t help themselves and once again returned to their mindless, sexist, repetitive formula. As in years past I can’t decide what is worse that they keep going back to the same concept year after year or that it must be working since they keep doing it over and over again.
Watch the commercial here.

3 – Calvin Klein: Concept

Not much to say about this commercial for men’s underwear with a sculpted and oiled man being compared to a greasy piston.  I can’t help but wonder reaction would have been if that exact commercial had been run but the gender of the model had been changed to female. In either case they clearly decided to favor eye candy over a concept.
Watch the commercial here.

4 – Oreo: Whisper Fight

I had really high hopes that a year’s worth of killer print and online marketing by Oreo would lead to an epic Super Bowl spot but instead we got the cookie version of “Tastes Great, Less Filling.”
Watch the commercial here.

5 – Sketchers: Man vs. Cheetah vs. Gazelle

This commercial of gazelles that are saved from a CGI cheetah after it’s caught and tackled by a man wearing Skechers was just incredibly forgettable. I really wish Sketchers would find some type of rhythm to their brand because last year it was a dog wearing shoes and now this year it is a man chasing animals wearing shoes. There is no consistency, no themes or nothing to create any separation for their brand.
Watch the commercial here.

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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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