Super Bowl ads 2013: Touchdowns & let downs

It’s that time of year again.  A time where teams come together, exhibiting strategy, tactics, and know-how to attempt to rank above others. A time where lots of careful planning and execution boils down to a “make it or break it” finale. That time of year is Super Bowl Ad season, of course.

While many advertisers gave it their best shot, only a few reigned supreme. Though there has been plenty of analysis of this topic, here’s my recount on the good, the bad and the awkward.

Dodge Ram “Farmer” 

While the bulk of Super Bowl automotive campaigns tried enticing viewers with glimpses of a better life built around a car, Chrysler decided to approach consumers with another route. These past three years, the automotive company has shied away from the glitz and glamour of auto advertisements. With previous campaigns such as 2011’s “Imported from Detroit” and last year’s Clint Eastwood spot, Chrysler has channeled their efforts into emphasizing American pride and complementing the lives of consumers. 

This year proved no different with their ad for the Dodge Ram. The two minute spot samples a recording from radio legend Paul Harvey layered over powerful, high-impact images of rural farm life. The ad not only does an exceptional job of catering to the vehicle’s demographic, but furthermore, captures the attention of any American who has had to work hard in a not-so-generous economy. Dodge Ram’s “Farmer” campaign is a testament to the fact that you don’t need cheap humor, supermodels and explosions to be a stand-out advertisement. Simplicity can act as a powerful tool. “For the farmer in all of us,” is a simple tagline that can resonate across several demographics and lifestyles.

 

Tide Miracle Stain

Tide has managed to take a household cleaning product and make a commercial that is both appealing to men and women across all groups. Not an easy task! Tide made it simple for men to relate to the diehard fandom that comes with the diehard support of their favorite team. Tide even goes the extra mile that many advertisers don’t – and that’s acknowledging that women are just as big football fans as the boys. What makes this ad so great, though, is the timing.

After a weak showing in the first half, 49er fans were left feeling a bit defeated to say the least. Resurrecting the face of Joe Montana and his legacy was enough to return life to battered fans, but it was the ending of the commercial that sent a foreshadowing message. The power of Tide was more than enough to remove a miracle stain, just as the power of the Ravens was enough to shut out the quest for 6.

Oreo’s Whisper Fight and Quick Thinking


The most important question during the Super Bowl was not which team will win. Oh, no. The real battle came down to which team you were on: Team Cookie or Team Cream? The age-old battle of cookie versus cream proved to be a big win for Oreo this Super Bowl season. People aren’t just tuning in to watch a football game, they want to laugh at enormous productions of absurdity, and that’s just what Oreo delivered: chair smashing, shelf crashing and whisper-having mayhem. 

But Oreo didn’t stop there. The big win for the Super Bowl ad was one that went viral. While NFL and Superdome officials were busy trying to avoid a PR disaster over the black out, Oreo capitalized on the power and speed of social media to deliver a simple stroke of genius. Ravens and 49er fans may have been left in the shadows during a power surge, but, hey, you can still dunk in the dark!

Thanks for the reminder, Blackberry!


Blackberry phones aren’t exactly known for their user friendly interfaces or general functionality. To be honest, when I see someone using one, I point and laugh and feel a touch of pity. Blackberry’s over-the-top commercial decided to play off the jokes that the brand is often the butt of. RIM did this by showing ridiculous things that you cannot do with a Blackberry.

With declining sales and being rendered irrelevant by an enormous market of smart phones, perhaps Blackberry should’ve invested money in reminding consumers of what their product can do. I think it’s fair to say that we all are very aware of their shortcomings.

New Beer, New You?

If there’s one thing I noticed while watching Super Bowl ads this year, it’s that beer companies are desperate to reach a new demographic. Too bad their approach doesn’t cater much to the audience they’re wanting.

Budweiser Black Crown tried to go the route of style. I’m guessing young people dressed in all black having a good time is supposed to be provoking, but the only thing it provoked within me were flashbacks of that epic fail with Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut. Even worse is the tagline: “Here’s to taste.” A world where Budweiser actually has flavor sounds amazing, but for now, here’s to empty promises.

Beck’s tried to go the same route but somehow managed to get the hunt for a younger demographic even more wrong with an ad that seems like a Pixar short gone horribly sour. I’m not sure what a goldfish singing a 90’s R&B classic is supposed to do for me but perhaps after a six-pack of Beck’s, the message would be more clear… though I highly doubt it.

Sex Sales…?

It appears that the two most talked about Super Bowl ads were built around sex appeal, which is quite odd for a program centered on family viewing. The clear winner in awkward sex appeal was Go Daddy. Watching and hearing a close-up of Bar Refaeli kissing Jesse Heiman was almost as uncomfortable as watching American Pie with my parents.

Since its initial airing, it has stirred quite a bit of controversy – but that’s expected from Go Daddy. The company has a history of sexist, over-the-top ad placements. Is it too much? I’d say yes. But to be honest, no other companies come to mind in the market of web hosting, so I guess they’re doing something right?

Making its introduction into the elite world of Super Bowl advertising is Calvin Klein with its new line of Concept Underwear, featuring model Matthew Terry. The advertisement may have been short on words, but the Super Bowl audience has made up for that by being pretty verbal.

Many deemed it “too sexy” for television, and considering the type of audience watching the Super Bowl, I’d have to agree. There’s a lot of risk involved in airing a campaign like this, but perhaps any publicity is good publicity.

The ad sent waves throughout the world of social media, trending heavily on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. It was also a popular topic of conversation around the water cooler on Monday morning. It may not have been the crowd favorite for Super Bowl ads this year, but it’s definitely getting noticed. And to be fair, when was the last time the general public spoke intensely of Calvin Klein? Too sexual, perhaps so, but it’s playing a part in bringing the designer to the forefront.

So what did I think of the whole set of ads overall?

Whether it’s through relating to the audience or sheer shock value, Super Bowl ads have proven to be a staple of the big game and this year was no exception. It’s a time where advertisers can guarantee that eyes will be on their products. Not all can have the pleasure of basking in the success of a well-executed campaign, but the beauty of it is… there’s always next year.

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Super Bowl ads 2013: Touchdowns & let downs

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