Super Bowl ads: bonanza or bore?
posted at 10:01 am on February 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Bore if you ask me, and I’m not alone. This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads featured a lot of flash and celebrity appearances, but not a lot of originality. The one game where we’re not supposed to be tempted to leave the couch between plays turned out to be a bust on and off the field:
The advertising world’s annual big night was, largely, a big yawn, according to several leading marketing experts.
“Death by boredom,” said Marian Salzman, chief executive officer of Havas PR, who also took to Twitter to tell Butterfinger “you bombed” and Audi “you lost me.”
“Hasn’t made me want to buy a darn thing,” Salzman added in an email.
Sure, Budweiser’s ever-present Clydesdales showed up, this time sporting a new pal — a little doggie with a crazy case of puppy love for furry-footed horses.
And Bud welcomed home a real U.S. soldier from Afghanistan with an actual surprise party, helping the beer maker win the night among the brands.
But like the Denver Broncos, most of the evening’s ads were a blur of confusion that too often fell flat.
NBC blames the problem on a lack of spontaneity. Jazz mentioned this, too, in the Super Bowl open thread; too many of these spots had already been seen, and would be available at any time on demand at YouTube. (Remember when we used that to ignore commercials?) That doesn’t account for the entirety of the problem, though. Most of the ads were either weird for weird’s sake, like the Budweiser pickup ad that literally was about “whatever,” to an ad for a long-dead show about nothing:
Jerry Seinfeld’s highly anticipated “secret project”was unveiled on Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s …an episode of his Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee entitled The Over-Cheer in which he reunites with two beloved Seinfeld characters — George (Jason Alexander) and Newman the mailman (Wayne Knight), Jerry’s longtime nemesis.
The 90-second promo for the six-minute Web video aired on Fox just before Bruno Mars’ halftime show. It features Seinfeld and Alexander seated in a booth at Tom’s Restaurant in Manhattan (the stand-in for Monk’s on the long-running NBC sitcom) discussing why George wasn’t invited to this year’s big Super Bowl party at “the Wassersteins.” (It seems George over-cheered at their gathering two years ago when the New York Giants won the big game, then “availed himself of the toilet in their master bedroom.”)
One of the strangest by far was this car ad from Bob Dylan, who has cut ads for Chrysler before. The ad makes an attempt at surrealistic images of American iconography along with Dylan walking around in neighborhoods and bars while advising Americans to buy their beer from Germany, but their cars from America:
Did we mention that Chrysler is now an Italian company? And that one of the other major sponsors of the Super Bowl was Budweiser, an American brewer? (Correction: Used to be an American beer; it’s now Belgian. Sigh. I’m still buying Sam Adams.)
And then there was the Coca-Cola ad, “America the Beautiful,” which got more attention than it should:
Alternate headline: Coca-Cola pitches to all demographics. Sorry I can’t work up any outrage over showing a gay couple and having a multilingual ad in an art form that sells sugar water to hundreds of millions of people. I’d be slightly more annoyed over the use of the song as a sales slogan than for the images within it; couldn’t Coca-Cola pay a jingle writer in 2014?
My favorite was the self-effacing ad from Tim Tebow, who poked fun at his current status by promoting T-Mobile’s new no-contract promotion, a clever blend of reality and sales pitch. I couldn’t find the exact version aired last night, but this version appeared a couple of days before the Super Bowl … once again spoiling the launch:
It’s too bad we didn’t get more like this. I could have skipped the game and still would have been entertained.
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