Our annual Super Bowl commercial review

 

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Although we don’t have any clients advertising in the Super Bowl (and probably never will), several of our clients have customers that do — McDonald’s, for instance. I’ve lost track, but this is the 4th or 5th year I’ve reviewed the Super Bowl commercials. The first couple of years were for fun, but now, each year, someone (or several someones) ask me if I’m doing it again. So, yes, I am, and I’m posting them as quickly after the game ends as possible.

The ground rules are simple: brief reviews (3 sentences or less); my opinions, like them or hate them; all nationally-running ads from right before kickoff to the end of the game; no NBC promos or local ads. And I didn’t watch ANY of the commercials before hand (no cheating for this guy!).

So without further ado, VantagePoint’s 2015 Super Bowl commercial review:

Chevy Colorado: “Interrupting” the TV feed is a clever way to give you a reason to want the truck’s 4G technology.

Esurance: Lindsay Lohan driving a minivan badly, while impersonating a school kid’s mother. “Sortof you” isn’t you, true. But Lindsay Lohan was a distraction to the bigger message, I thought.

Toyota Camry: I loved the message of empowerment with Amy Purdy, a disabled female athlete. But I got distracted by the Muhammad Ali voiceover — it just didn’t go with the visuals. And I don’t get the connection to the Camry, either.

TurboTax: What a great idea to talk about tax software — the Boston tea party, and, indeed, the entire American Revolution. However, the message got lost in the cinematography and the humor (e.g. George Washington’s “Alright then. Back it up” while crossing the Delaware). Fun, but not particularly promotional.

Game of War video game: Interesting cinematography, and consistent use of the Roman-warrior-princess-person. But do smartphone video games really bring in enough money to support a Super Bowl ad? If so, maybe I’m in the wrong business.

Tomorrowland movie: As a big DisneyWorld fan, I’m intrigued. An interesting premise — instead of turning a movie into a park attraction, are they trying to turn a park attraction into a movie?

BMW i3: The setup seemed to make Bryant — and especially Katie — just look ridiculous. Yes, no one knew what the internet was in the early 90s, so debating what the “@” symbol was seems valid. But you’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard of an electric car — a “fanbine”?

The Minion movie: Who doesn’t like Minions? Even the commercials are fun to watch — while they all “scream indecipherable nonsense” and fling their overalls into the air. The most effective commercial so far — the only one to make me want to buy the product/service.

Snickers: Fun extension of the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” series. I loved the way the Snickers bar appears at the end, split between the 9 frames of the standard Brady bunch photo. Clever.

Carnival Cruises: Beautiful imagery, but I couldn’t get past the voiceover. It sounded like a Kennedy — maybe JFK? And using an assassinated president to hawk cruises just seemed inappropriate.

Skittles: A town full of folks with enormous right biceps, even 10-month-old babies. That’s just a little freaky. What happened to the whispered “taste the rainbow”?

Lexus: Same old cars driving in a parking garage with lots of shadows and lights. And maybe some splashing water and a dancer or three. Yawn.

T-Mobile: Distraction seems to be the theme of the year. I couldn’t get past how clueless Kim Kardashian is, even when she’s, well, playing clueless. I guess it makes the point that your unused data is being lost by most carriers.

Budweiser puppy: Sentimental, as usual. But why did the puppy escape from the stopped truck? The whole premise is founded on something that isn’t entirely clear.

Nationwide “Invisible”: So Mindy Kaling is invisible — lots of clever setups, and the final scene with Matt Damon is perfectly set and acted. But I can’t help but wonder if Julia Robert’s voiceover’s selling point was lost and Nationwide’s message would be the one that’s, well, invisible.

Terminator movie: “Everything’s changed,” says the actress. But from this ad, it looks like Arnold’s gray hair might be about the only thing.

Coke: I love this. What if there WAS some way to make everyone love each other, and it was as simple as a spilled coke in a server room? Great execution, great theme, and great brand message.

Avocados: This was lots of fun, falling dodos, overly eager polar bears, clever commentating — I kept waiting for the caveman to actually say something. Memorable and appealing shot of the guac at the end.

Furious 7 movie: “This takes crazy to a whole ‘nother level.” Yep. And the brief pause near the end of the commercial as the car goes crashing through the skyscraper definitely gets your attention.

Dove Men + Care: Lot’s of touching scenes of “Daddy!” make for a good start. But the close — “care makes a man stronger” — requires too much thinking while I’m watching football and eating pizza.

Doritos: Funniest commercial so far — I laughed so hard I could hardly type as the actor tries a whole range of tactics to keep folks from sitting next to him on the plane. Until the beautiful woman shows up, that is.

Nissan: While I love racing, the Cats Cradle song bed overwhelmed the message of the commercial for me. I couldn’t help but watch the dad never being at home and think back to the song’s lyrics about a father who is never there for his son.

Nationwide “Make Safe Happen”: Sobering — they set us up with gorgeous imagery of a young boy, only to remind us that some children never get to grow up due to preventable accidents. And Nationwide’s role in protecting children is more obvious in the way this commercial is edited.

WeightWatchers: Interesting message — you get bombarded by all sorts of food messages every day, so you need help keeping control. This is the third ad messaging approach I’ve seen in recent months, though, and I wonder if WeightWatchers is spreading their message too thin.

WeatherTech: They really push the Made-in-America angle for their floormats and car accessories — it seems to be their only USP, but they harp it relentlessly. You certainly can’t miss it, and WeatherTech seems to be selling enough product so they can afford ads in the Super Bowl (and 6-8 pages in every automotive magazine).

McDonald’s: Pay with Lovin’ — whatever that is, exactly. The scenes are cute, and it reinforces McDonald’s new variation on “I’m Lovin’ It” postioning. But how will the program work, exactly?

Esurance: Breaking Bad’s Walter White, playing a pharmacist, says “I’m sortof Greg, and we both owned a Pontiac Aztec.” I get what Esurance is doing here (and in the pre-game version with Lindsay Lohan in a minivan). But the commercials are so clever, you’re still laughing at the actor/setup that I worry the point is getting lost.

Fiat: Ok, this was really, really clever — all along I was thinking it was a Viagra ad, watching the little blue pill bounce around the picturesque Italian village. And then it lands in a tiny Fiat gas tank, leading to the . . . Fiat X Crossover. Nicely done.

Go Daddy: A guy still at the office, working, eating “0-layer dip” and unable to watch the game. A far cry from previous years, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t expecting Danica Patrick or some scantily clad woman to crash the commercial at the end.

Discover: Same premise as they’ve been running, with a new variation: a goat in the apartment, and a screaming dude in the hallway. Consistent with their message, but enough twist for the Super Bowl.

Microsoft: The little boy with his prostheses is cute, but the transferred connection to Microsoft (“our software helped analyze his gait”) seems weak and opportunistic.

Squarespace: A bearded Jeff Bridges, humming. And a link to www.dreamingwithjeff.com — I haven’t visited it yet, but I’m guessing millions will. If the site is good, this might be a perfec way to advertise Squarespace (a relatively simple website creator).

Toyota Camry: Again, having a little trouble seeing the connection between the Camry and being a good father. It’s like everyone says “let’s tell a touching story” (which it was) “and then stick our logo on the end” (which they did).

Pitch Perfect movie: Ok, so do the Green Bay Packers actually appear in the movie? Or was that just a stunt for the commercial?

Always: “Like a Girl” was an insult us elementary and junior high boys used with each other back in the 70s and 80s, and I’m guessing they probably still do. Nicely filmed, and a good reminder to think twice about the effect of your words.

Geico: “Push it” says Salt n Peppa. Which we’ve seen before. Many, many times.

Skechers: Pete Rose is “in the hall” — funny, but distracting from the shoes. And some of the audience has no clue what the point is.

Clash of Clans video game: Liam Neeson talking to his iPhone screen, seeking revenge for a defeat in his video game. I love it — and now we know his screen handle: AngryNeeson52.

Sprint: Cut your plan in half, and we’ll throw in a few barnyard animals. Probably the cheapest ad of the night to make — maybe to reinforce the point they are making?

Lexus: An ad for the Lexus RC sport coupe. Which heavily features little remote control (“RC”) cars. Clever, and a little different than the typical sliding sports car stuff.

Microsoft Learning Bus: The learning bus connection to Microsoft technology is better in this ad than the previous one. I hate the word “impactful,” though.

Dodge: “You learn a lot in 100 years” says the tagline for this ad from the 100-year-old car company, reinforced by centenarians giving their best advice — much of it worth heeding, I’m sure. Refreshing change from the car ads so far tonight.

Kia: Pierce Brosnan plays perfectly against type as the Kia guy pitches him to act in their commercial. “No explosions?” “No explosions.”

Jublia: Really? The toenail fungus toe gets a — wait for it — a helmet! Because, you know, it’s the Super Bowl! Ugh.

T-Mobile: Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler play a ridiculous game of “can you top this” (by phone) to demonstrate the power of T-Mobile’s wi-fi calling. Clever way to show how effective the technology can be.

Budweiser: Lot’s of fancy brewing, opening, growing, pouring and serving beer images. With big type about how wonderful beer is. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

Jeep: Beautiful, gorgeous imagery. But the song — “This land is your land, this land is my land” — is most definitely a song about America. Yet more than half the images are from other countries, seen in a new car from an iconic American brand (Jeep) that’s actually made in, of all places, Italy. A big disconnect for me. (Sorry for the 4-sentence review.)

Ted 2 movie: It’s about as crass as you might expect, even (or especially?) the part that includes Tom Brady.

Mophie: Burning bushes, dogs walking their masters, and civilization generally falling apart, all because the battery on God’s cellphone is nearly gone? Aside from the whole blasphemy thing, it’s too elaborate a setup to effectively sell the Mophie extended-life battery, in my opinion.

Loctite: Every possible people-who-aren’t-quite-in-fashion cliche, dancing and lip-syncing to a reggae song I don’t recognize. Ridiculous, yes, but memorable? Yes as well.

Bud Light: The hidden camera thing again, this time with a giant quarter that feeds into a life-scale video game –that turns our hero into Pac-Man. Entertaining, but minimal brand connection.

Mercedes: The rabbit and the hare make their commercial appearance, again. A bit tired, but creatively executed, and a nice way to show off the (very expensive) Mercedes coupe and its “hare-raising” performance.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Exactly what you would expect. Safe-for-TV clips from the movie, and the title of the film/book in gargantuan type.

Doritos: Oh, the old “when pigs fly” routine, this time with a clever, bespeckled boy who wants Doritos. A little funny, but it seems rather unoriginal.

Wix: Brett Favre, and others looking for a second career, use Wix to create a website for their new business (e.g. “Farve and Carve”). Too many confusing references that I was trying to figure out. But it makes the point.

Victoria’s Secret: Again, what you’d expect. No need to say more.

Heroes Charge video game: Very boring, just screen shots and animation — especially when compared to the originality of the Liam Neeson Clash of Clans ad.

My pick for best ad? I’d call it a tie between the Minion movie and the Coca-Cola ad. Both are on brand, fun, and memorable. That’s what I think — do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below. And you can watch all the commercials, if you missed any, here: http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/

 

 

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