Super Bowl Ads: Who Scored, And Who Wasted Their Money
Advance marketing campaigns have largely leeched the thrill of discovery out of Super Bowl advertising, since many of the spots were exposed before the game. Of course, that logic seems less assailable given that the game itself was essentially over on the first play of the second half, making viewing optional if you really gave a damn about who wins.
The level of perceived creativity in Super Bowl advertising has taken on a life of its own, which has led to the content generally being overrated. Moreover, one of the biggest sponsor categories — movie studios — are invariably challenged to come up with genuinely breakthrough creative, since a trailer is pretty much a trailer, the only difference here being the size of the stage and cost of the platform.
That said, watching the game like a regular fan (including a couple of pale ales just to complete the effect), here’s a set of knee-jerk reactions about the in-game advertising, assessing who scored — in a creative sense, if not necessarily a moving-product one — and who could have put those millions of dollars to better use.
Because they’re of special interest to Hollywood — and really belong in a separate class — we’ll break the movies out separately, followed by the rest of the field. In general, there were relatively few standouts, but also few outright howlers, with car companies conjuring some of the most memorable spots, for both good and ill. As always, when it comes to the size of a corporate footprint at the Super Bowl, there’s Budweiser, and then everybody else:
Need for Speed (DreamWorks): Pretty smart, doing an ad for a high-testosterone movie without built-in sequel recognition that virtually omits any dialogue. Essentially reduced the project to its adrenaline-rush core.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount): If I could sit through another one of these movies, that spot would probably make me want to watch this one.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony): The special effects look fine, but for some reason as I watched it, I kept thinking about the first “Spider-Man 3.”
24: Live Another Day (Fox): I know, it’s a TV show, but the ad certainly looked like a movie trailer — and made me laugh for all the wrong reasons. Jack Bauer, trust me, you don’t want to go out this way, dude.
Volkswagen: German engineers sprouting wings each time one of their cars hits 100,000 miles — including wings of varying sizes in the men’s room? Genius.
Chevy: The company’s spot about World Cancer Day was just beautiful — haunting, touching, a little movie, played out in 30 seconds.
Hyundai Genesis: Who can’t relate to the idea of a dad trying to protect his kid — and a car’s breaking system stepping in when he’s not available? Perfect way of pushing the product in a light yet highly identifiable manner. Too bad it’s other spot, with Johnny Galecki, was a waste.
SodaStream: Although this has always struck me as a completely unnecessary product, the company’s “banned” Scarlett Johansson ad was a winner well before kick off, going viral thanks to the NFL forcing a change because the company dared to mention fellow Super Bowl sponsor Pepsi. And it’s a good thing, too, since the spot didn’t air until the fourth quarter, when the outcome of the game was long since decided, and wasn’t particularly imaginative.