Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 Super Bowl TV Spots/Ads Grades and Reviews. and Selected Video.

Just like last year, all the 2009 in game Super Bowl spots will be reviewed here before, during and right after the game. No reliance on other opinions (no Twitter surveys, USA Today or advertising profs). I grade hard and you won't find grade inflation here. C's are average. Period. Unlike Harvard, just cause you got into the big game doesn't mean you get a bye to A's and B's.

No studio trailers have been included. Or local spots. Let me know what I'm missing. And argue away...that's part of the fun.
On The day of the Super Bowl I included videos of all the spots. I just deleted everything that received a grade under B...the post was loading like molasses. This will help.

Pepsi "Forever Young/Refresh Anthem": A-

This is the spot I've been anticipating most of all, and it delivers. It's smack dab on the "Taste of a new generation" celebrity strategy here contrasting old and new. Woven together by Dylan's "Forever Young" the spot is a compelling mashup of Bob Dylan and Will i. am vocals, tracking like lightning from tableaux to tableaux. Split screen to split screen celebrating both celebrity and pop culture now and then. By the end Pepsi owns the history of the last fifty years of youth culture and, by implication, the history of soda. Most of all, Pepsi's got it's mojo back. Cool. "Elephant": A- (No quality video available)

Great, great spot, The sweeping single shot contains a fabulous reveal when the guy sitting in the back room is revealed. Stylish and fun. Excellent production. Unlike so many spots this year, despite the humor, restraint is present.

Coca Cola "Heist": A-

Another fabulous Coke production. Animals ( a common theme this and every year) run riot and steal a Coke. Gorgeous imagery. What's amazing is the subtle (and intended I believe) implication that Coke is a natural product. The amazing achievement here: making me like a spot with bugs? Will squeamish anti-bug people? Definitely pays off "Open Happiness."

Kellogg's Frosted Flakes "Plant a Seed": A-

Perfect for the spirit of the time, Kellogg's hits a home run here in a spot about doing good and community involvement. Besides all that, it's beautifully shot. And, unlike many other spots this year...drives viewers to the web. Kudos to Kellogg's.

Pedigree: B+

Fun, big fun right out of the gate when a woman, leash in hand, calls to Rusty to come for a walk. Rusty the Rhino (love the alliteration) busts right through the door. Rusty may get the Super Bowl best actor award, animal or human. Bruno the ostrich, an unnamed pig and a boar (?) are equally difficult. Great way to deliver the "Maybe you should get a dog" Pedigree adoption program message. This spot should do well

Doritos "Power of the Crunch" and "Crystal Ball": B+

"Power" is a compelling, attention-getting ad. Right from the first crunch where the woman is stripped to her underwear to the surprise ending this is a lot of fun. Crystal Ball delivers the same values...and is even more kooky. Memorable and good stuff.

GE Ecomagination "Scarecrow", "Wind": B

I'm a huge fan of this campaign. Difficult, hard-to-understand subject matter is treated in a lighthearted, magical way.
The smartest move...don't explain it, just establish that GE is the leader in the green/eco world.

Cash4Gold “Ed McMahon/MC Hammer”: B

“Here’s money.” Ed McMahon, perfectly cast (sadly) launches into what Cash4Gold claims to be the first direct marketing spot ever run on a Super Bowl. If ever their time has been right it’s now. MC Hammer (sadly too) lightens things up with quick cuts featuring some of his more eccentric possessions. Fun. My guess. This will work. Creatively, it worked better than a bunch of other ads out there this year. Surprising, no?

Denny's "Thugs/Free Grand Slam Breakfast": B

A huge promotional idea, giving away a free Grand Slam breakfast Tuesday morning/early afternoon. Strangely executed...although the Scorsese look-alike is amusing. Somehow it seems as if the offer was added late.


Great campaign. Realistic treatment of the economy. Smart idea to add the "flex the golden pipes" baby. Key question? Is E*TRADE getting investors who will be highly profitable...or a young target starting out?

Hyundai “Commitment”: B-

As a promotional idea this is an A. “If you lose your income in the next year” you can return the new car to Hyundai without penalties. Fabulous recognition of just what it might take to get the target to buy a car now. But like, the execution suffers, filled with random uninspired shots and music in a minor key that never resolves. Tough to walk the serious line without becoming morose.

Hulu "An Evil Plot": B-

Fun. May have been the riskiest spot given the tongue in cheek attack on TV. But Alec Baldwin overwhelms the content. Hard to follow so much activity at the end of the game. Better as a :30.

Gatorade "G": C+

A Nike like spot that's attention getting by dint of the ambiguous use of the letter G. Good to drive interest...perhaps bad for clarity. “Looking for The NFL Director of Fandemonium”: C+

A fun, promotional idea with some great giveaways including a $100,000 signing bonus, calling a play at the 2010 Pro Bowl (so much more fun if it awas a real game). My problem is with the visuals, which are dark and uninspired. And, to me a U2 fan, that track vaguely resembles “Where the Streets Have No Name.” No?

Sobe Lizard Lake: C+
Kudos for 3D innovation, demerits, big ones, for an uninspired ad. Think how good this could have been with great creative. To me, bad luck on the placement during the bathroom break between the 100 yard interception runback and Springsteen's awesome display of energy.

Audi "Chase": C

A L'homage to Hollywood car chase scenes culminating in a new Audi. Despite all the sturm and drang and a car star, this spot disappoints. Been there. Done that.

Coca Cola Avatar: C

Coke introduces their optimism line ""Open happiness" following Obama's/Pepsi's optimism strategy. Cute but too long. Do you need to do avatars to seem relevant? Then resort to the historical soda bar with straws and cute kids to establish your brand heritage?

Cheeto's "Chester the Cheetah": C

Food as that's an interesting strategy. Amusing and fun...but doesn't stand out from the crowd.

Bud Light "Swedish (w/Conan)": C

Conan is funny here and helps things out somewhat....but it's still sorta a spot about drinkability. What's drinkability?

Bud Light "Drinkability/Meeting/Ski Slope": C

My guess is that Bud Light has done some research and has found out that "drinkability" is a confusing concept at best.
So...why not discuss it in a business meeting? Or illustrate it via comparisons between skiers. More pratfalls and broad comedy. The key question remains: is drinkability relevant or believable? One great line, though: "does my pen have drinkability?" Love that.

Budweiser "Clydesdales" (multiple spots): C

Something was off this year with the Budweiser Clydesdale spots. They were shot just as beautifully (if not more so) than ever.
Ironically, though, the attempt to try something new faltered. Personifying the horses made me uncomfortable. Freeing the circus horse too. The "Grandfather" that arrives from overseas seems strained. Stretching the format somehow made it seem tired. It's a great tradition. But they may have to find a different forum for innovation.

Toyota Verza "Super Bowl 2009": D

Dull, dull, dull. Static, predictable. Car ads have so much potential to be fun.

Heineken "Warrior": D

John Turturro offers more big thinking (Lao Tse “Art of War” style) on life and beer. Love the Village Vanguard. Love the track. Too much talk to break through the Super Bowl noise. Too bad.

Castrol Edge "Grease Monkeys" D+

Well...someone had to bring the monkeys to the party. But the Iron Butterfly music?

GoDaddy "Enhanced"/ "Shower": D

I'm not a fan of these spots creatively. But they definitely have established it's hard to indict them. No surprise here as Danica Patrick returns in the now familiar Congressional hearing format, about "enhancement," read boob jobs. With a vague allusion to domain names. GoDaddy has been very smart about driving viewers to the web.

Hyundai "Genesis": D

If you're worried about being heard during the big party, shout. Unconvincing. Too little to late. Almost 20 years after Hyundai's US intro now we're hearing how to pronounce the name. Think most of us already know.

Pepsi "Pepsuber": D
Not sure how you can put together an inspired spot like 'Forever Young" and then follow with Pepsuber. I've never been a fan of the SNL MacGruder skits, this only seems more foolish. And...if Pepsuber has to explain the "refresh everything" themeline, even worse.

Bud Light "Lime": D

How many times has the black and white to color been done, as well as the cool guy wandering through the streets?Uninspired.

Taco Bell "Overated": D
The appetizing food as hero shot at the center is surrounded by a very flimsy plot. Funny? Well...not very. "David Abernathy": D

Feels a lot like creative we've seen before from Dougie Howser. But, just like so many spots this year, this is way too long. Unless it's the internet version. this time is expensive. See the Pepsi or Coke heist spots for guidance. D

A great contrast to Pedigree's wry, witty use of animals. struggles to be humorous. Repetition (especially the headbanger and dolphin rider) quickly wears thin rather than reinforcing the message of "if you're annoyed about your job, try us." Annoys. Compare this to Coke's "Heist" above. Way, way too long.

Coke Zero: Mean Troy: D

Dear Coke Zero. Never, never redo one of the best Super Bowl spots of all time, "Mean Joe Greene", for a cheap joke.
Not fun at all. And, the Coke brand managers intruding on the spot just adds to the confusion. Perhaps the worst spot this year.

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Ed B said...

Agree with you on almost everything. But, I thought the CareerBuilder spot was funny, one of the funniest spots on the SB. It was the woman screaming over and over that made her funny, and demonstrated her frustration. I don't think it will necessarily help their business that much (not any differentiation among the competitors), but I thought your analysis of it was a little harsh. Plus, for me, the Clydesdales wore out their welcome a long time ago.

DerekClair said...

I concur, Pepsi was the best ad of the Bowl. Establishing the brand in the right way, classic, memorable and inspiring.

Kellea Tibbs said...

I agree with your analysis of the Coke Zero/Mean Joe Green remake. That was not a good choice, plus if you are going to remake an COKE commercial, use the real Coke and not Zero. Football players do not drink diet or zero calorie anything do they? That was a bad move. Great analysis of all the commercials overall.

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