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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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Power of the Word Free: Macy's Free Cosmetics Giveaway

It's the oldest saw in the advertising playbook that two words "free" and "new" are the most motivating words you can use.

This morning Macy's gave away free cosmetics staring at 10 AM...and just take a look at the lines at their 34th Street and Herald Square store this morning. I'd estimate 1,500 to 2,000 people.

The free cosmetics giveaway is all part of a massive legal settlement for price fixing in the cosmetics industry. Here's a detailed explanation.

I spoke to a few of the people in line this morning. What was most amazing to me was that they couldn't answer what brands were being given away...just that they were free.

So...are these bread lines for cosmetics a sign of an economic downturn? Or just the proverbial desire to get a product without having to shell out for it? Tell me, please.

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Is Online Video A Threat to Traditional TV Viewing?

Our new media contributor Daisy Whitney writes:

The New Media Minute is back in 2009 and I’m asking the question of whether online video viewing helps or hurts old-fashioned TV. Recent research from Starz and One Touch Intelligence suggests the Web is less of a threat than previously thought. But the New Media Minute asks if that’s a smart assumption to make. This edition also covers a new effort by NBC to hire local video bloggers to produce online reports for its owned-stations, a move that could help attract a younger demographic.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A New Type of Obama Inspired Advertising: Tropicana Squeeze Ad with Obama & Kids Lookalikes.

This is amazing to me. Tropicana has joined the Obama inspired marketing bandwagon. It's becoming a crowded field with Pepsi leading the way, followed by Ikea's welcome signature book and a host of others.

This, though, is different. Pepsi's new "optimism" campaign was inspired by the big, lofty ideas that Millennials hold. These ads are just slick attempts to imitate the Obama family album. It's Dad & the kids. Obama family values

There are multiple ironies here. As far as I can tell Pepsi owns Tropicana. Are they planning to employ the optimism strategy with multiple brands? These Tropicana ads were created by Arnell...the agency that redesigned the Pepsi bottle to more closely resemble Obama's campaign logo.

Given all this admiration, I hope the clients and the agency/ies are going to be on the Plaza Tuesday...or at least giving everyone the day off.

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Photograph by Jugular Advertising.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

HBO's Big Love Advertising and Promotion Goes Underground and Innovative.

HBO's great show, Big Love, set to return on January 18th, 2009 for its third season, has furthered its reach in the Times Square spectacular world by going underground with an innovative approach to posters. HBO has bought every--yes every-- poster that spans the tunnel which runs between Times Square and The Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The posters are unique because you can plug headphones into the people portrayed on the poster and listen to their secrets, an allusion to the governing story line that HBO is focusing on in positioning Big Love as a show about "secrets." (That association is a bit tenuous for my taste in this advertising).

It's a fun approach, these audio posters. If people figure out what you're doing and know to plug in. And, ironically (if you're into numerology), there are exactly 42 posters running side by side. A subtle tie into the 42nd St and Times Square station? Or am I over-reaching?

HBO is going to get a lot of credit for innovativeness here. The real trick is 1.) making the technology work 2.) making sure to tell people clearly to plug in and 3.) finding enough room during rush hours to listen. Does it matter... or is the PR what it's all about?

For a look at the wide range of above ground Big Love posters and billboards and a further analysis of the campaign see Cable Marketing

Times Square is becoming a breeding ground for innovative new campaigns from high profile clients. See what Pepsi is Doing with their Refresh Everything campaign here

What do you think?

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Photography by Jugular Advertising

Friday, January 2, 2009

Information Overload: Feeling Overwhelmed and Unable to Stay Current.

This is just a terrific video related to information overload and its causes--a topic I plan to write further about in 2009 (Happy New Year by the way). Increasingly, I've been felt the absolute difficulty of keeping up with the mountains of new content (or slightly revised and re-calculated information) flooding my computer screen and the airwaves. Even in the world at large, more and more physical space is subject to "takeovers" (an advertising word for dominating a media space...i.e. Pepsi's Times Square takeover on New Year's Eve).

The psychology of information overload is a topic I'm looking into. I'm feeling snowed...I'm know others are too.

Because every piece of communication we generate, from emails to tweets to posts is affected. From my perspective here at Jugular the emerging question I see is how we can best put together effective communications for clients in this environment.

I'll be back with more as the year proceeds.

In the meantime, what do you think?

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Click here to visit our group blog Cable Marketing.