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Best ads of the game

Google: Google transformed how we think about search and now
Google has transformed how we think about Super Bowl ads. Without any
celebrities, special effects or juvenile jokes, Google did what Google does
best. It showed us in a simple clear how Google had changed the world. The ad
is unlikely to win any creativity awards but unlike most ads I think it made a
powerful, lasting impact in the mind on consumers.

Doritos: Who needs a fancy award-winning agency when you can
hold a contest and get your ads for free? Doritos showed us again that there
are a lot of aspiring creatives out there with a lot of time on their hands and
a lot of ideas in their heads. For a cool, fun, spicy, youth-oriented brand the
strategy paid off big time. The dog with the bark collar was hilarious and had
a great brand payoff at the end.

Snickers: When you brand owns a strong, narrow idea in the
mind, it is a whole lot easier to make a great commercial. Snickers, the
number-one candy bar, is focused on adults. Having a cranky Betty White turn
into a young guy playing football was not only visually funny, but also packed
a mean branding punch too.

Budweiser: Overall, I was underwhelmed with Anheuser-Busch’s
ads this year. Usually Budweiser dominates the game and easily delivers among
the best in the bowl. While Budweiser didn’t have its best  year, average for Budweiser is still pretty
good. They own the Super Bowl and they are still the King of Beers. As usual, the
best ad used the Clydesdales, the iconic symbol of the brand. But the ad itself
wasn’t as great as the Clydesdale ads of past years. If they would stop line-extended
Bud Light (now in Lime and Wheat), then maybe they would have more time to work
on the ads.

Denny’s: The free-breakfast idea got people really excited
last year. So Denny’s repeated the giveaway. And people probably got even more
excited about the free breakfast this year. But on top of breakfast Denny’s
delivered some of the top ads of the game. Again when you have a narrow idea,
it is a lot easier to get good creative work. “It’s a good time to be an
American, but a bad time to be a chicken.” Who can forget that line?

Coca-Cola: When your award-winning competitor suddenly drops
the ball, it is wise to pick it up. Coca-Cola took full advantage of Pepsi dropping
out of the game and delivered with ads that showed us why it is the world’s
number one brand. I’m not crazy about the tagline, Open Happiness, but the
message was clear, Coke is the Real Thing. My favorite was the terrific Simpson’s
Hard Times ad which spoke to the mood of a nation and the thirst of the world.

 

Great ads, but no connection to the brands.

Boost Mobile: The Super Bowl Shuffle parody was wonderful!
Nothing works like using nostalgia to create a great ad.  But there was no connection to Boost Mobile.
Part of the problem of course is that nobody knows what a Boost Mobile is.

Dodge: Man’s last stand. The set-up was fabulous: still
images of men’s faces, the voiceover about all the miserable things they were
willing to do to be our man. The payoff was the problem. Man’s last stand is
driving a Dodge? Come on! You have got to be kidding. You can’t take Man’s last
stand with a Dodge. A Porsche would be much better. Or at the very least a Ford
F-series truck.

Audi: Love the Green Police ad I was singing right along
thinking how timely and appropriate to promote a green car. But wondering in
light of the recent news why Toyota would run an ad for Prius? I know Audi owners love
their cars. But Audi has a branding problem, it doesn’t own anything in the mind of the
consumer. And the last thing it will own is green.

 

Nice ads, but the brands are in trouble.

Volkswagen: Working with an idea already in the mind is
always good. Volkswagen brilliantly brought back the “Punch Buggy” kids game
where you get to punch someone every time you see a Volkswagen Beetle on the
road. The problem is that today Volkswagen has 13 different models on the road.
Kind of defeats the purpose of the game and the ad.

FLO TV: And people thought the iPad had a naming problem. With
a name like this, the first thing I think of is here comes the flow, get me a
pad! Live mobile television is an easy thing to sell. Missing the big game or
American Idol can be funny. The real question is other than these examples, who
really cares about live television anymore?

 

They tried

E*Trade: Consistency counts. E*Trade has been in the Super
Bowl for years with the same talking babies. The gag might not be as funny. But
right away you know the brand and you remember the message.

HomeAway: Unlike Ed Begley Jr. there are some celebrities that
it is fabulous to see again in a Super Bowl ad like Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo.
I loved the idea of a National Lampoon’s Vacation spoof. But the jokes weren’t funny
enough and the key idea not sold enough. Rent a house for half the price of a
hotel, that is a powerful idea. Too bad they didn’t hammer it harder.

 

Shouldn’t be in the game

CareerBuilder: The company has made a career out of Super
Bowl ads showing people working with horrible co-workers. Either they are a
bunch of chimps or they are naked. Not sure which is worse. The idea comes
across, your job sucks so it’s time to get a new one. There are two problems.
First of all in this economy many people would happily take a job even if it
meant having to wear underwear on Fridays. The second problem is the fact that
CareerBuilder is not the leader. When all your ad does is sell the category you
are essentially benefiting the leader. Even worse the category leader
(Monster.com) was also advertising on the Super Bowl and delivered with a
hilarious Beaver ad.

U.S. Census Bureau: Ed Begley Jr. is in charge taking a
snapshot of 300 million people for the U.S. Census. This is a clear sign that
government has drifted to the far left and has no idea whom to call to get
something done.