Posts Tagged ‘Chevrolet’

Post Patterns: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Before anyone could ask, “Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?”, the Patriots were down two to nothing on a safety. Safety first was also the overriding rule for most of this year’s advertisers and their teams.

Most of the ad agencies and their clients were not surprised because they knew they were going to play it safe all along. I am talking back to basics with bowsers, babies and babes. Classic Madison Avenue.

Start-ups and technology companies were practically absent as the more traditional big spenders were ever present. I’m talking food, beer and cars.

Notwithstanding a few excellent spots, this was another disappointing year. At least we were spared painfully poor and insensitive advertising like the shameful Groupon spot of last year.

O.K. Same ground rules for judging as in the past:

“The spots had to be, quote unquote, Super Bowl ads: ads imbued with enough creativity to compel you to want to watch them again. They should stand on their own for pure entertainment value. Being aired for the first time, clock stoppers, buzz creators. And they must build the brand, create memorable awareness or introduce a new product in an engaging way.

I avoided previewing ads on YouTube and other sites so as not to watch them out of context. I wanted to experience them with the full impact of seeing the spots for the first time in all of the communal anxious anticipation of a Super Bowl commercial break.

By the way, I understand the pluses of leveraging YouTube and other social media and the increasing pressure to do so. Some advertisers and their agencies made a good argument that only millions and not tens of millions would see any of the ads before the game anyway. Fair enough.”

Given these ground rules, the best of the best was the spot for the Chrysler Group with Clint Eastwood. More than satisfying the requirement that the spots be made for the Super Bowl, this commercial was specifically designed to run at the end of the half.

Building on last year’s ad with Eminem, no less “studly” a guy than Clint Eastwood himself gave us a pep talk declaring that it was only “halftime in America” and to keep our chins up.

Inexplicably, this spot was attacked by the Republican Party as a stealth political ad for President Obama and the Democrats. The result: enormous buzz from on air political pundits, bloggers and the “man in the street”.

In another stunning example of more internecine behavior by the Republican Party, none other than Karl Rove cried foul and criticized Mr. Eastwood, of all people. The award winning actor and director is rumored to have never voted for a Democrat.

In Rove vs. Eastwood, the court of public opinion handed down a verdict in favor of the rallying cry of the commercial and the delivery by its incomparable spokesperson.

Nothing but the game itself was more notable on Super Sunday, but others deserve a moment to be singled out for the good, the bad and the ugly.

Honda scored big several times with quintessential Super Bowl spots. Meaning that they used tongue in cheek humor, high Q score celebrities, fast paced story lines, special effects and surprise endings.

In one, they re-introduced the perpetually smokin’ hot Acura NSX. From Jerry Seinfeld’s urban zip line to Jay Leno’s rooftop punch line it was a hot spot for a hot car.

In another commercial they combined these winning elements for the Honda CR-V. Matthew Broderick in a reprise of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was pitch perfect.

Volkswagen took a nice turn with “The Dog Strikes Back”. The only thing that would have made this better for me was if they left out the connection to the brilliant mini Darth Vader spot from last year. I got it but it seemed to confuse the message and change the cadence of the spot. Incidentally, that is exactly how they are running that spot now. You’ll see, if you haven’t already.

“Sonic Stunts” for the Chevy Sonic was one of my favorites, partly because I think of myself as a musician trapped inside of a marketer’s body. Talk about appealing to both the right brain and the left brain. BTW: I recommend watching the whole thing online.

According to my own ground rules, “Graduation Celebration” for Chevy Camaro, ought to be excluded since it has already been running. However, I decided to mention it because the product positioning and ad execution are spot on.

As if that wasn’t enough, General Motors bought some more time and dissed Ford by name in ”Apocalypse”. This spot depicted “end of days”events and showed the survivors driving Chevy trucks. One unfortunate soul who did not make it was said to have driven a Ford. The spot itself was not that great but the publicity it generated made it worth the cost of admission.

General Motors Global CMO, Joel Ewanick, was ebullient over the hand wringing elicited from Ford Motor, which asked GM and NBC not to run it. The feud is better than the spot and so once again we see that it is better to be lucky than good.

So much for car ads.

Frito-Lay’s Doritos ads: “Missing Cat” and “Sling Shot Baby” were both “created” by so-called non-professional consumers. Both were engaging, funny and original. Moreover, kudos for smart branding, as they were consistent with their entries from previous Super Bowls.

There is some buzz that a dead cat goes beyond acceptable dark humor. What? Nobody protested a grandma risking a baby’s life using a sling shot for a bag of chips? Warning to those who were offended: please show caution when selecting television shows, video games and movies; especially cartoons.

In another victory lap for dogs, Skechers, went from a lap dance to a victory lap. In a case of dog bites man or woman, Kim Kardashian was replaced by a dog, with an assist from billionaire Mark Cuban, in a huge messaging and creative turnaround from last year’s ghastly failure.

Perennial player, Anheuser-Busch, almost did not make the cut but for its introduction of Bud Light Platinum. “Creation” and “Platinum Party” were straightforward, differentiated from “regular” Bud Light ads and a good use of the Super Bowl.

CHASE did do a very good job, with the Drew Brees football family and the decision to tout mobile banking, the “it app” in banking. Having said that, no T.A.R.P. fund babies (repaid loans or otherwise) had any business buying 3.5 million dollar spots.
Unlike CHASE, the spots by Citi had mediocre creative and were a waste of time and money, adding insult to injury.

With one exception, I have no comments on movie trailers or television promos. The Tonight Show ad with Jay Leno and Madonna in the elevator was short and sweet and was a perfect tie-in to NBC and the halftime show.

In the interest of your time and my belief, if not my behavior, that “brevity is the soul of wit” I have deleted the good, but not great, and suggest we head directly downhill to the bad and the ugly.

Ironically, some of the “ugliest” spots had some of the best looking people. If you cannot make sex sell then don’t try.

FIAT got men and women alike to pay attention. Then they couldn’t deliver. Not good for a car ad to have performance anxiety. The only thing that was not flat was the foam, the sexy Italian model and the car. Too bad for the new FIAT Abarth. Looks like a fun ride. This ad started well, got lost on the way and crashed in the end.

I never thought I would complain about seeing too much of Victoria’s Secret super model, Adriana Lima, but I have to say, she was over exposed. Being in two questionable spots for two different sponsors, and KIA, was a fumble. Super Model. Super Bowl. Super Bad.

I’ve heard some say the ad was offensive. I thought it was pretty tame and typical advertising. The team that created it is not guilty of being sexist, just lazy, creatively speaking.

The KIA Optima spot, “Sandman/Sweet Dreams”, was more of a nightmare. BTW: Great tagline. Wrong car: “A Dream Car For Real Life.” Or shall we say: a dream tagline for a real car.

Still holding its own for bottom feeding is GoDaddy. As impressed as I am with Danika Patrick for combining svelte attraction and high speed traction, these gal pal spots were flat. As we know, consistency is one of the pillars of branding, but I think these sophomoric spots for GoDaddy aren’t even that sexy.

Last year, I gave them credit for driving traffic to their site, which is the goal, but they had all year to come up with something clever. Back to the drawing board. Not “Body Paint”. Oh, and yes, as Danika Patrick and Jillian Michaels said, “I think we missed a spot…spots”. You sure did. In more than one way.

BTW: I did not overlook the H&M commercial with David Beckham. It is not mentioned here because they used sexiness well. If you are old enough to remember, this is the 21st century version of the, dare I say, break through ad for Jockey with Hall of Fame pitcher and Baltimore Orioles announcer Jim Palmer. For younger readers think of Annie Leibovitz’s shots of Marky Mark Wahlberg for Calvin Klein.

Finally, so terrible that it is terrific, I am still amazed and amused with the bizarre ad for Jack In The Box. Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction got nothing on this for intruding on “family entertainment”. The spot ends with this memorable, inexplicable and offensive line. “You may now eat the bride.”
Maybe, “You may now kiss the burger,” would have been a kinder, gentler line.

Either way, if only Mr. Eastwood could come to the rescue again and tell these people, “Go ahead, make my day!”