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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggzr0GxnPBU

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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I just cant get over Arrrh-Nold with a blond wig calling the other guy his little princess.

AverageJoe on February 3, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Coke ad was lame. I’m not sure how preferring English is racist, but that’s liberal “thinking” for you. Funny though, I didn’t even notice the gay couple the first time through.

SAZMD on February 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM

If a conservative said it and a liberal wouldn’t, it’s racist or xenophobic.

“Lame” was a good description. My wife read me something telling me about how riled up people were about the ad. I didn’t like the spot, but I was initially surprised that a lot of people blew up about it. Even at my most sympathetic to what Coke may have been “trying to do”, I still think it misfires.

Why were they having middle easterners and Asians sing in our parochial 12-tone scale? And mainly within the major and minor scales? Thus, so we can understand that they are still singing America the Beautiful, they have to carry at least the tune we recognize.

And in certain cases, the “common” in communication is more important than the diversity of sources.

Axeman on February 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM

The ads reflected Manning’s play…fumbles, miscues, a few “highlights”, but mainly just not a good night for commercials or Manning.

There are some ad agency’s that today should be waiting for that inevitable phone call.

And they can’t say, the opposition rushed them…

right2bright on February 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Boring.

I recorded the game on DVR. I FF to the opening kickoff. I watch the first commercial (? don’t remember what it was ?) then the second commercial during the first commercial break was really boring and I FF through all of the remaining commercials during the rest of the game.

So, I watched the first commercial after the opening kickoff, don’t remember what it was, started watching the second commercial, was completely bored, and Fast-Forwarded through the rest of the commercials for the rest of the game.

Boring.

I recorded the game on DVR. I FF to the opening kickoff. I watch the first commercial (? don’t remember what it was ?) then the second commercial during the first commercial break was really boring and I FF through all of the remaining commercials during the rest of the game.

So, I watched the first commercial after the opening kickoff, don’t remember what it was, started watching the second commercial, was completely bored, and Fast-Forwarded through the rest of the commercials for the rest of the game.

Boring.

jaime on February 3, 2014 at 4:32 PM

My favorite commercial was the one where Fox informs me that this Cinco de Mayo will be the Best. Cinco. Evah: Street Chaos

JimLennon on February 3, 2014 at 4:40 PM

The ad for Scientology surprised me the most…wasn’t something I was expecting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k0JEc0arOQ

JetBoy on February 3, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Anyone else find it interesting the Bob Dylan got not just one, but two ads last night? The Chrysler ad and the Chobanie yogurt ad that featured “I Want You” as the background music while a bear ravages a country store. Interesting, but probably no significant.

I assume that people upset about the Coke commercial ate the kind of people who aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy about something.

urban elitist on February 3, 2014 at 4:48 PM

I assume that people upset about the Coke commercial ate the kind of people who aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy about something.

urban elitist on February 3, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Why would they eat you?

Christien on February 3, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Why would they eat you?

Christien on February 3, 2014 at 4:51 PM

It happened in the eat of the night.

backwoods conservative on February 3, 2014 at 4:58 PM

They were from Denver. They had the munchies.

urban elitist on February 3, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I agree with you – the Tim Tebow ads were the best of the bunch. Although, honestly, they were a bit sad — it’s one thing to be able to poke fun at yourself because of some quirky trait or past mistake, but the poking-fun in these was because no team wanted him. Funny, but depressing.

KS Rex on February 3, 2014 at 5:22 PM

The Chevy Truck Bull & Cow romance was real hoot.

Missed the Bob Dylan ad.

Hey, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go…

Bruno Strozek on February 3, 2014 at 6:31 PM

My friends and I loved the Butterfinger commercial.

Sheerq on February 3, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Really…no love for the Mountain Dew duck hunting ad? I laughed my ass off both times it aired.

James on February 3, 2014 at 6:50 PM

My friends and I loved the Butterfinger commercial.

Sheerq on February 3, 2014 at 6:48 PM

I was waiting for her to blurt out “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate.”

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Please, people, think for yourselves and don’t let other people constantly convince you to be negative, rage-filled, drones.

If any of you take even a second to watch the ad and actually THINK about it while you watch it, you might notice that the parts sung in English are the only parts that are CLEARLY set in America. The others are at least plausibly–often clearly–set in other countries, with people in China, Israel, etc., all singing “America the Beautiful” in their native languages. If you would open your mentally ill minds for a moment, you might notice that and take pride in it instead of whining and looking for attention.

DaveS on February 3, 2014 at 2:05 PM

It’s a bit of a touchy subject and one I’m surprised that Coke decided to play “who me?” with.

We are in the middle of an amnesty battle. We also, like the blurb quoted stated, having to deal with many languages and people who think that they can change the rules/customs to suit their habits rather than assimilating and become one with *this* country. There are places in the country where English is not spoken with regularity or where one can stand in line at a check out and not hear English. What is being forgotten is that English is the official language and that is being lost with the PC Police being in charge.

It’s just an idiot commercial, but it’s also something that we’ve had repeated in the culture many times – that we are here to accommodate others rather than they are here to assimilate, so much so that we don’t even notice the language used and the tone.

It will certainly be interesting if amnesty does get pushed through as that will just blow the doors off any kind of restraint towards sanity with respect to newcomers.

They are going to be the new 900 lb gorilla and bless your racist heart for even thinking anything remotely un-PC.

kim roy on February 3, 2014 at 8:36 PM

I loved the one where the xenomorph ate Moochelle’s face off.

SparkPlug on February 3, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Radio Shack taking a jab at itself was kind of amusing.

Ronnie on February 3, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Did anyone else think Axe body spray’s “Make love, not war” ad was equating Iran, North Korea, and U.S. GIs in Vietnam?

Christien on February 3, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Horrible. Aimed squarely at the Gen X (Y, whatever…) who have, as a group, no idea WTF happened in VietNam except what the left has indoctrinated them with. This was a quick refresher course for them. Plus trolling for the last few Boomer metrosexuals that care about spraying themselves with that stuff.

Speaking of Boomers that should go away… the Bob Dylan ad was positively frightening, both for his spectral, hair-dyed appearance, and for the suggestion that beer and watches and phones can all go under the bus, but DETROIT is holy.

And Coke: you want to change lyrics… go get your own damn song to do it to.

Yeah, it really sucked.

bofh on February 3, 2014 at 10:38 PM

I laughed at one of the commercials. Don’t remember who it was or what they were selling.

John the Libertarian on February 3, 2014 at 11:03 PM

No one is going to mention the awesome teaser promos for 24: Live Another Day? C’mon, it had an Emo Chloe and everything.

Does it not count because it wasn’t technically a commercial or something? #JackIsBack

Rude on February 4, 2014 at 1:52 AM

Radio Shack taking a jab at itself was kind of amusing.
 
Ronnie on February 3, 2014 at 9:44 PM

 
I would LOVE to have the ’80s Radio Shack back.
 
I don’t want a cell phone. I don’t want a cell phone cover. I don’t want a hands free headset for my cell phone. I don’t want a stick-on cell phone signal booster.
 
I need a 5 Ohm resistor.
 
Oh, the Radio Shack employee doesn’t know what that is. No, I still don’t need a cell-phone cover, thanks.
 
“Maybe that’s what’s in those drawers under the cell phone batteries!” she shouts as the door closes behind me…

rogerb on February 4, 2014 at 7:03 AM

Coke trades on both its global presence and America’s melting pot in a spot showing happy Americans—Causasian-American, African-American, Mexican-American, Asian-American, Eastern European-American, Muslim-American, even Cowboy-American—having a good, ol’ happy time while “America the Beautiful” rolls in the background in English, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French and Hebrew. #AmericaIsBeautiful. Damn right it is.

They purposely left out the Gay-American, who also appear in their ad.

I want to know why they Diapered-American woman appears as a symbol for it all.

Leftists, you are such pigs.

Michelle Obama, where is your fat mouth and butt on opposing the soda addiction?

All hyphenated-American-promoting idiots, go to Hell.

obama is NOT an African-American president. He is the president of the USA, you mental toads.

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2014 at 10:49 AM

I respect Col. West, but he suggested that people are “afraid” to sing “America, the Beautiful” in English, and I don’t know where he gets “fear” from a commercial in which all that happens is different languages are used.

bmmg39 on February 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

I would LOVE to have the ’80s Radio Shack back.

I don’t want a cell phone. I don’t want a cell phone cover. I don’t want a hands free headset for my cell phone. I don’t want a stick-on cell phone signal booster.

I need a 5 Ohm resistor.

Oh, the Radio Shack employee doesn’t know what that is. No, I still don’t need a cell-phone cover, thanks.

“Maybe that’s what’s in those drawers under the cell phone batteries!” she shouts as the door closes behind me…

rogerb on February 4, 2014 at 7:03 AM

POPULAR MECHANICS is now a lifestyle magazine.

ebrown2 on February 4, 2014 at 10:18 PM

There was a a gay family in the Coke ad? Really? “Featured prominently”? (As I saw in more than one article.)

I watched it through a couple of times, and did manage to catch a very quick cut of two guys with a little girl. I guess that was them. I wouldn’t call it “featured prominently.” I’d call it “sneaked in to see who might notice it.”

JamesS on February 5, 2014 at 1:47 AM

POPULAR MECHANICS is now a lifestyle magazine.
 
ebrown2 on February 4, 2014 at 10:18 PM

 
Yep. Popular Science, too (of course).
 
Remember this?
 

Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at PopularScience.com, we’re shutting them off.
 
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments?dom=PSC&loc=topstories&con=why-were-shutting-off-our-comments-

 
SCIENCE!

rogerb on February 5, 2014 at 6:44 AM

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