Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wien's Irreverent Review of Super Bowl Advertising

Wien’s Irreverent Review
Super Bowl 2010 Advertising

Super Bowl XLIV will be remembered for the extraordinary comeback for New Orleans after being down in the first quarter and after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The team pulled out a storybook ending that was an emotional victory for everyone who lives more than 150 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As for the advertising, many creative teams continue to produce extraordinary commercials that get noticed, encourage conversation and reinforce the brand image. However, the TV audience of over 100 million people are still forced to watch successful companies pouring $5 to $6 million per minute into the Atlantic Ocean by developing ordinary commercials. Many Advertising Directors and Marketing Directors will be greeted by colleagues on Monday with the question, “Who Dat?”

The most poignant moment for me about how special this win is for the City of New Orleans is when I read that fans have been clipping articles out of the paper all week and posting them on the gravestones of their recently departed relatives. I can only imagine that the spirit of many of those relatives stopped to read the articles on their way to Miami and did not get there until the start of the second quarter. But my guess is that their spirits will be on time for an early start of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street tonight.
Here for your enjoyment is my call on tonight’s advertising. I hope this article is provocative and stimulates thinking on how you can move from ordinary to extraordinary in your effort to build awareness and attract new customers.


Mike Wien
Professional Speaker on going from ordinary to extraordinary

First Quarter
Bud Light - New House: Anheuser-Busch leaded off with a house made out of Bud Lights. When the guests realize that the cans are full and not recycled empties, the obvious happens including a shower wall being consumed with the wife in the shower. Would you expect anything less from the company that wrote the manual for Super Bowl winners?

Snickers – Family Football: Grandma and Grandpa find themselves playing in a family football game and both get nailed with hard tackles that send them flying into the mud. I can only imagine that this is in response to a previous disastrous Snickers commercial that critics called too gay. Yes, grandma and grandpa were a lot tougher. It is a good thing that Snickers has the best tasting candy on the market and does not have to rely on their advertising to drive sales.

Boost Mobile – Shuffling Crew: This one features a number of very famous and very retired football players who make up the shuffling crew and sing and dance for national TV. The only thing good about this one is the cast party must have been fantastic for any pro football history buffs. But what does this have to do with Boost Mobile? If Boost is a public company and I was an analyst, I would make them a strong sell.

Doritos - Dog collar: A man offers to share his bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos with his dog if the dogs barks. The problem is, the dog is wearing a no bark electric collar. Through the magic of TV, the dog is able to take off his collar and place it on his master. When he barks with delight as he enjoys his snack, the results are shocking and all those fans who still hate Michael Vick get their long awaited revenge. (Full Disclosure – I worked at Frito-Lay on Doritos)

Doritos - Date Night: Frito-Lay addresses a contemporary issue, mom dating. When the date shows up at the door, mom’s 5 year old son establishes the rules…don’t touch my mom and don’t touch my Doritos. Nice twist on a spicy situation.

Bud Light - Asteroid: When scientist realize an asteroid is about to destroy the world, an impromptu party erupts. When the asteroid turns out to be the size of a half dollar, the celebration gets better. So will the Bud Light commercials coming up. They get better.

Coke - Bart Simpson Cartoon: When a millionaire goes broke and loses everything, he finds peace and new friends with a Coke. So who wins here? The average working guy who gets to see a rich guy go broke? The Coke brand? None of the above. (Full Disclosure – I spent nearly 10 years in marketing at Pepsi.)

GoDaddy – Massage: GoDaddy has found a successful formula and continues to work it. Sex drives brand name recognition. They get bonus points this year for developing a “story line” that gets through the CBS sensors.

Doritos - Casket: Funerals are always a challenging canvas for comedy. A live guy stuffed in a casket full of Doritos is even more difficult. My sense of humor died on this one.

Bud Light - Instant Party: A party is quickly organized by people passing invitations via cell phones with amplified voices. The only voice not amplified was the guy in the room reviewing this ad that said, “kill this one – we can do better.” - Beaver: With the current unemployment rate at over 10 percent, sites like are hot. So how does a beaver playing a violin help drive volume. This joke hit a flat note.

Bridgestone – Whale: Kids steal the whale out of the aquarium to set him free. When they do a perfectly performed spin out at the end of the pier, their cargo goes flying into the ocean. Great driving, great tires, great commercial.

Second Quarter
Budweiser - Delivery Truck: When a bridge gets washed out, a community comes together to build a human bridge to get the Budweiser truck across. With all the natural disasters, this one is a stretch and a washout.

Career Builders - Casual Fridays: People of all shapes and sizes enjoy running around the office in their underwear for casual Friday creating an environment that the star and the TV audience hates. But in this environment, how many people who currently have a job are looking to leave. Maybe some of the marketing team at Career Builders will get a chance to become clients.

Dockers Free Pants: Dockers needs to get a full credit for this commercial for the poor placement behind Career Builders. Two ads back to back with business people running around without pants was confusing, not to mention in bad taste.

Bud Light – Stranded: Survivors of an airplane crash find themselves on an island with a working radio and a beverage cart full of Bud Light. Gilligan trained us all to know our priorities.

Dove for men: A forgettable attempt to sell Dove soap to men. Pick a different environment.

Teleflora - Flowers in a box: Here is a great commercial that sells the benefit – fresh flowers delivered make a better impression than dead ones that are shipped. The only problem is that this is the wrong environment for a rational sell.

Dr. Pepper Cherry: The group Kiss helps to introduce Dr. Pepper with a kiss of Cherry at their concert. Does the target audience have any idea who Kiss is? Kiss this one goodbye.

FLO Hand Held TV - Man loses his backbone and ends up shopping with his wife/girlfriend for bras. The hand held TV saves his day, but it does not save the respect any viewer might have for this lightweight.

Intel Core Processors: How does the number one chip maker in the world introduce a new line of computer chips and feature robots that malfunction? What am I missing? It sure isn’t Intel inside.

FLO TV - My Generation: I am still trying to figure out what FLO TV is and a 60 second montage of my generation did not help. Where is Forest Gump when we need him?

Third Quarter
Denny’s Free Grand Slam: Offering everyone a free Grand Slam breakfast on Tuesday…how can you lose? Denny’s took this bold move this last year and the trial it generated must have been enough to have them run it again. Anyone want to join me for breakfast on Tuesday? I’ll buy.

Michelob Ultra: Lance Armstrong is the right guy to represent a brand like Michelob Ultra. But if you have to hide him in the commercial, maybe a football audience is the wrong environment. I never heard of this web site, but they managed to cram the most popular pet peeves about staying in a hotel in 30 seconds. If all they were trying to do is build awareness for their URL as an alternative to hotels, they succeeded. This one won’t win any contests, just potential customers.

Bridgestone Tires: When a gang ambushes a car and demands “your tires or your life,” the driver misunderstands and leaves his wife. While some women in the audience may not find this entertaining, buying tires is a guy’s job and Bridgestone made the guy and the tires our hero.

Coke - On Safari: I know I might have a bias here, but Coke is an exciting high energy product and they can do better than having a guy wake up and stroll through an African safari to enjoy a bottle of Coke.

E-Trade - Babies: Talking babies are always cute and usually a crowd pleaser. The first e-Trade commercial was the classic boy meets girl and made the point. The third commercial of a similar format later in the game made this concept a little ripe.

Google Search Engine: Just how romantic can Google be? Somehow they managed capture the whole story of an American boy meets girl in France and engineers the whole relationship with the help of Google. Search on!

Round-up Extended Control: A weed control product has about as much sense in a Super Bowl Commercial as a weed in the middle of a football field. This commercial gets lost in this environment. Who is going to be talking about the weed killer on Monday? Pick a different venue.

Fourth Quarter

Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret Popcorn: Humans performing like dolphins in a pool for snacks is pretty impressive. But the advertisers attempt at getting a two for one by combining two brands dilutes the message and makes me want to feed the creative team raw fish.

Budweiser - Horse and Calf: Budweiser has a tradition of featuring their Clydesdales in an emotionally charged commercial that often takes the top honors. This year’s entry celebrates the ongoing relationship between a baby Clydesdale and a calf with “nothing comes between friends,” including fences. The Clydesdale legacy continues.

Audi -Green Police: I usually make a practice of not commenting on car commercials in the Super Bowl because they traditionally come off as too ordinary. However, when Audi used their Green Police to introduce their new environmentally friendly car and “arrested” anyone violating the basic tenants in sustainability, including a policeman drinking from a Styrofoam cup, they drove this commercial to extraordinary.

Taco Bell – 5 bucks box: The motion and activity in this commercial made my stomach hurt. If Taco Bell can’t talk about their great tasting food in this environment, they should take their bell to a different field.

Doritos – Locker Room: When our star steals a bag of Doritos from the Doritos Man’s locker, death is imminent. But it should have been for the guy who designed the Doritos Man’s suit. The brand started out strong with what I thought was one of the best commercials in the first quarter, but slowly lost its crunch as the game progressed.

Bud Light – Book Club: A guy changes his plans to join the girl’s book club instead of playing sports with the boys when the girls bring out the Bud Light. This cliché would have been acceptable if the game was a blow-out and no one was watching the fourth quarter. But the game was still a nail-biter all the way to the two minute warning and the plot in this commercial was not.

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