Advertising Super Bowl

February 7, 2005

It was the year of the amazing comeback. The Janet Jackson waredrobe malfunction of last year actually forced marketers to abandon the easy and tasteless bathroom humor of the past few years in favor of better, more powerful advertising messages that in some cases were genuinely funny. But just as Terrell Owens remarkable comeback on the field was not enough to win the big game, not all of the advertisers scored major points and many of their ads did fall terribly flat.

The MVP of the Advertising Super Bowl was most definitely Budweiser. Bud showed why they are the king of the Super Bowl and delivered beautifully. Out of the nine ads broadcast by Budweiser four stood out as entertaining while also delivering the brand message.

  • Bud Light: Pilot jumps out of plane for six-pack after skydiver refuses. The ad delivered an unexpected twist which emphasized the love of the product. As the first commercial which aired during the game, it really got the advertising off to a good start and solidified Bud as the real winner of the day.

  • Bud Light: Cedric’s island dream turned into nightmare by nagging beauties.

  • Bud Light: Guy at game sees cellphone photo of his girlfriend at home with another guy and his beer.

  • Anheuser-Busch: American troops get standing ovation as thank you at airport. As the biggest sponsor of the Super Bowl and an iconic American brand, it was heartwarming to see the troop tribute. It reinforced A-B’s commitment to the American spirit and dream.

However not all of Budweiser’s ads were winners. The biggest disappointment was the lack of airtime given to the Clydesdales. One ad featured them briefly, as an ostrich, giraffe and pigs try to audition to join the team. Why does A-B keep trying to bring in other animals into their commercials? They are much better sticking to the horses which so epitomize the brand, its heritage and its leadership. Forget the donkeys, frogs, pigs and kangaroos. Focus on the Clydesdales.

And why are they line-extending Budweiser again? It makes no sense to introduce Budweiser Select low-carb beer. A-B has a very successful low-carb beer called Michelob Ultra, the first beer in the category. Why confused people even more and take sales away from both Bud Light and Michelob Ultra with another line extension? It further undermines the power of Bud Light. Does Bud Light really have that many carbs? Do real guys really care about a couple of carbs anyway? While Bud had a great game, this ad and this brand is a total fumble.

The other winner of the day was Pepsi-Cola. It used its multiple spots to reinforce the cool, hip and even sexy nature of the brand. And showed why men need to be calorie consensus too. The best ad showed Cindy Crawford and other women eyeing a handsome Diet Pepsi drinker. The hysterical twist was when Queer Eye for the straight guy Carson Kressley is also caught looking at the hunky fellow.

Pepsi also teamed up with Apple for another iTunes cap promotion further cementing Pepsi as the “choice for a new generation.” A tagline which Pepsi should still be using.

And Pepsi’s third commercial centered on P.Diddy and the power of celebrity endorsements. After he shows up to an award show driving a Diet Pepsi truck everybody wants one. It was funny, satirical and on target.

In terms of the advertising fumbles, there were a few:

  •, please go away. A totally tasteless ad showing a girl with big boobs, a tight shirt and a malfunctioning strap. No brand message, a name that has nothing to do with the category (website registration) and a whole lot of money down the drain. ($2.4 million, to be exact.)

  •, another internet company with no name recognition and no brand credibility. A guy has to work with a bunch of monkeys that make copies of their bottoms on the Xerox machine. Not funny and not a career builder for the site.

  • AmeriQuest delivered some funny ads portraying misunderstandings and why you shouldn’t judge a situation too quickly. But I don’t think the Super Bowl is the time you want to worry about your mortgage company rejecting you. It’s the same reason H&R Block selling tax services during the game wasn’t successful either.

  • Cialis should have learned from all the negative PR it received last year. The Super Bowl is not the time one wants to be reminded of erectile dysfunction or the 4 hour potential side effects from its drug.

  • FedEx delivered a humorous spoof of Super Bowl advertising with its list of keys to a great ad. But failed to follow its own advice and include a brand message. Why should I use FedEx and why do I need to go to Kinko’s now?

  • Honda introduced its Ridgeline pickup truck with the tagline “Above all it’s a Honda.” The brand has no street credibility and above all the last reason any guy would buy a pickup truck is because it was made by Honda. This is the Super Bowl, where Bud-drinking, Ford-driving men watch football. I think Honda made a poor choice and wasted a lot of money on these spots.

  • Silestone tried to sell countertops using Mike Ditka and Dennis Rodman in a bubble bath? The only excuse for this flagrant foul is that the company is from Spain and maybe something got lost in translation. But even in Spanish I doubt the ad could have been funny or have anything to do with selling countertops. Besides who thinks about putting in new countertops while watching football, guzzling beer and eating pizza anyway?