Super Bowl Ads: Winners & Losers

February 2, 2009




Budweiser. Nothing goes better with football than beer. And the King of Beers, a consistent game day player since 1989, has game ads down to a science. This year, Bud again used a combination of the Clydesdales, humor, tradition, the beer wagon, leadership and heart to get the job done with style. Like the Steelers, the Bud win wasn’t a blow-out, but in the end they end up on top. My favorite was the Clydesdale and the circus horse.


Monster. What works best in a Super Bowl ad is consistency. Monster was a game regular since 1999 and the standout "when I grow up" campaign. After a couple years off, Monster is back in the game and comes out a winner again. Again it is combination of a powerful visual, original humor and brand message that scored big. They had the backside of the moose plus the message of over 1 million jobs worldwide.

Denny's. When you can point out a clear difference between you and the competition in a humorous and memorable way it makes for a great commercial no matter when it runs. Not only did Denny’s allude to it’s competition as a bunch of circus clowns (serving food covered in whipped cream, sprinkles and goop) Denny’s is offering everyone in America a "real" grand slam breakfast tomorrow! Wow. With 1,600 restaurants in 49 states (only Wyoming is missing) expect lines out the door and lots of people enjoying a hearty breakfast no whipped cream included. Many brands like Denny's are better positioned by what they are not instead of what they are.


Doritos. Third year is a charm. Doritos has leveraged it's Crash the Super Bowl contest to appeal to the YouTube generation where everyone has a camera and everyone wants to be a film director. This year two unemployed nobodies from nowhere won the contest, took home 1 million dollars and even topped the USA Today Ad poll. While the ad was low-brow, slapstick and juvenile it appealed to the target market. While the ad lacked brand message, young men just can’t seem to resist crotch humor or the unique taste of Doritos.


Cash 4 Gold. Talk about the right message at the right time with a brilliant execution. Ed McMahon and MC Hammer both looking down and out trading in their gold mementos for cash. A hard sell and stand out cheesiness make this a standout. And who doesn’t have cheesy gold things from the 80’s they should be getting rid of for cash?




Go Daddy. When GoDaddy first debuted its brand at the Super Bowl in 2005 it was a quirky unknown company blowing their whole budget to run two Super Bowl ads to create controversy to generate PR. The ad made fun off the famed wardrobe malfunction from the year before and it succeeded in getting everybody talking about it’s tastelessness but it also got a lot of people visiting and using Fast forward to today, GoDaddy is now the world’s leading registrar with three times the addresses as its closest competitor. Today, GoDaddy needs to grow up. GoDaddy need to be not just controversial with it’s advertising it needs a solid strategy.


Hyundai. Hyundai has a terrible sounding name, but it has been a hot selling car by focusing on low cost and quality. And right now being the cheapest car on the market is a good place to be. But was that good enough for Hyundai? Of course not, companies always want what they don't have. So last year Hyundai launched the luxury Genesis model with a price point of $40,000. Have the cars been well received by the critics? Yes, it even was named Car of the Year. Will the Genesis be a hit with consumers? No way. Hyundai’s ad showing Mercedes and BMW executives screaming in fear over the Hyundai product reviews are laughable. For $10,000 consumers will drive a Hyundai, but for $40,000 no way. When consumers get money again they will be running right back to Mercedes and BMW. Prestige does not rhyme with Sunday.

SoBe. Again Sobe LifeWater ran an ad with every ad clique in the book throw into it. This year the ad had lizards, music, NFL players ballet dancing it was in 3-D. Too much is too much. The first rule of branding is that a brand needs to stand for something. Strong brands might sometimes get away with such antics but weak brands can't. The ad, the brand and the strategy are all wrong.