After a brief hiatus, and thanks to the demands of a few of our loyal readers, our annual Super Bowl commercial review is back! From kickoff to just after the final whistle (ok, so I’ve started right before kickoff to get in the epic Ford double commercial), here is my read on all of the major national commercials that aired tonight, written as they happened. (I’ve excluded local commercials and Fox promos.)
My favorites? Jeep for best ad, T-Mobile for most effective ad. Overall, a bit of a lackluster evening — both game and commercials.
Ford “nearly double.” This pair of commercials is definitely a bit over-the top, but there is no missing the point that the Ford Fusion has nearly double the fuel economy of the average vehicle. As such, it’s definitely on message. But was it worth 90 seconds of ad time?
Bud Light. Hidden cameras and “We’re just getting started.” Hope this actually goes somewhere.
Maserati Ghibli. Ominous opening. Great voiceover from a child. Lovely cinematography. Awesome engine sound. But for Maserati? And the few thousand people who might be in their target market? (The frustrating thing is that this model IS affordable to far more people than you might realize — but they didn’t make that point.) I was looking for something a little nobler. But a lovely piece of film.
Doritos. So I’m having trouble believing that the guy is gullible enough to believe the cardboard box is really a time machine, but the payoff is great. “You’re so OLD!” Maybe he IS that gullible?
Chevy trucks. A man and his truck. And a bull. Nice shot of the “bated breath” as the bull exhales. And an interesting mis-direct with the “bachelor” turning out to be the bull. But not really sure it says much about Chevy that is unique. Yes, the truck can pull a bull, but can’t most trucks?
Need For Speed Movie. Audacious engine sounds, flying cars, and explosions. A video game turned into a movie? Will probably work well for its target audience, of which I’m a member.
TurboTax. At your prom watching your girlfriend dance with some guy named Sean. With stats. In really slow motion. So skip the game and do your taxes! Funny, and really makes the point. Although I don’t know that anyone is actually going to do what they’re suggesting.
Bud Light. Again. Don Cheadle. With a llama. And Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yep. They paid it off.
Beats Music. Good too fast/too slow/just right intro for Beats Music. Although I don’t remember that Goldilocks actually stuck around to dance with the bears.
U2/[Red]. Background screen reminds of the circa 1995 Apple screen saver. Makes the point, but the cynic in me can’t help but wonder if this is just an elaborate PR ploy for the Bank of America. I think it does more for U2 than BoA.
Hyundai Genesis. “Remember when only Dad could save the day?” It makes the point nicely, but a whole commercial for one single car feature (auto braking) that’s not unique to that car? Not sure that was the wisest expenditure.
Cheerios. Love the look of concern on the little girl’s face. “And a puppy.” And the mom’s face. Clearly not how the parents intended the conversation to go, but that’s real life.
Squarespace. Good real-life reneactment of the world wide web. No clear explanation of what Squarespace does, though, so maybe not as memorable as it needed to be.
Radio Shack. Alf, Hulk Hogan, a DeLorean, and John Ratzenberger. Is the ad poking too much fun at the brand? Because, yes, the Radio Shack stores are definitely circa 1980s. A good teaser ad, though — I want to see what they’re doing.
Chevy trucks. Haunting music and real, believable people. Touching. Again, hopefully won’t be seen as too opportunistic for its tie-up with cancer advocacy.
GoDaddy. “I quit” says puppeteer Gwen to her boss, on national TV. Is she real? Regardless, a nice, dare I say inspiring, departure from GoDaddy’s previous Super Bowl fare.
Bud Light. Dancing, recloseable bottle. Oh, and it’s cold. Yawn.
T-Mobile. “Contracts are limiting.” A perfect use of Tim Tebow to reinforce a marketing point T-Mobile has been working lately.
WeatherTech. I’ve always questioned WeatherTech’s use of “American made” as their primary selling point (they advertise heavily in auto mags with that theme), and I wonder again if it was the right choice for a Super Bowl ad. But if you’ve got the money, you CAN do that and see what happens with sales.
Transformers. It looks like more of the same. But the “same” has worked really well so far.
Volkswagen. “100,000 miles!” “So?” Fun. Effective way to make the point that VW has more cars over 100,000 miles on the road — especially since there was some difficulty with reliability 10-15 year ago for the brand. Glad we didn’t have to actually see the “rainbows shoot out of their butts” though. That would have been, well, just creepy.
Wonderful Pistachios. Love that Stephen Colbert, and his eagle, and his portraits, are all wearing the branded green tie. But it didn’t close the deal for me.
H&M. Didn’t we see David Beckham in his underwear a few years ago on the Super Bowl? I guess this one is different since the implication is he is OUT of his underwear. Mildly entertaining, but I’m not rushing out to buy H&M underwear.
Wonderful Pistachios. Ok, I take back my earlier skepticism — great job here. Nice use of the split 30-second media buy, and nice use of the tiny green-headed Stephen Colbert.
Spiderman. Seems like he meets every movie villain known to man. Sally Fields’ “We have no chimney” is my favorite part of the commercial.
CarMax. Not a fan of the slow clap, but this is sort of funny. Especially when you watch what happens around the edges of the action — the poor kid that falls off the bike, the kung-fu master kicking and clapping, and the clapping fountain statue.
Geico. Ok, I’ve said this before: if you’re going to spend a bunch of money for a Super Bowl commercial, at least create a NEW ad, not one we’ve seen a few dozen times already.
M&Ms. Puzzling — I’m not sure why the Russian mobster is going out to check the groceries in the back of a sedan. Love M&Ms, but not a fan of the “giant M&M in clueless peril” theme they’ve been using.
Coca-Cola. Lovely cinematography around the country, and a great choice of a beautiful rendition of one of our favorite patriotic songs. Call me a traditionalist, but I’m really bothered that two-thirds of the song was sung in a language other than our national tongue. Ruins it for me.
Sonos. This takes a REALLY long time to get to the point. They could have cut their spend in half by doubling the speed with which the musical tastes/colors collided. A waste of money — and I still don’t know what’s significant about the product.
Toyota. Effectively makes the points that you can fit a bunch of stuff (puppets?) into a Highlander and that it’s not boring. Not sure if the boring point is really true, but if the Muppets say it, it must be — right?
Subway. Olympians are not actors. They’re athletes. Their acting gets in the way of the crunchy message for me.
Jeep Cherokee. “The restless many.” “Stillness is what actually kills us.” Outstanding copy, effective non-polished narration, gorgeous photography. Effectively shows this SUV in an aspirational setting. I want one, and I want to go those places. Perhaps the best of the night so far.
Audi. How do you even SPELL Doberhuahua? Sarah McLachlan was a really nice touch. The commercial keeps you engrossed until the payoff: “Compromise scares us too.” Almost perfect — I wish they had time to tell us why Audi doesn’t compromise.
Intuit. Took me a while to figure out what was going on. I get the “girls can do great things” message, but it’s only marginally related to Intuit, so it’s not really effective for the brand.
T-Mobile. Tebow does his own stunts, saves puppies from fire, heads up a metal band, drives a 74 Nova off a ramp, all because he has no contract. Again, great use of Tebow to reinforce the “no-contracts” message.
Axe Peace. “Sometimes the most powerful weapon is love.” Nice little story, full of visual misdirect. But It seems like Axe is trying too hard to be noble.
Chobani. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to this town in the Rockies, sans bears. Again, keeps your attention until the “all-natural” payoff. Effective.
Kia. Nice Matrix spoof — it’s been overdone, but this version works as an effective way to show there’s a different choice in luxury. Is that really Laurence Fishburn singing Nessun Dorma? Great close.
Sprint. “Framily” plan, with a bunch of bearded dudes, including a couple of creepy ones. I guess it gets the message across.
Heinz. Clap your bottle? Instead of your hands? Fun closing with the “flatulent” grandmother. Nice.
Honda. “You’re probably expecting me to crash a car or blow something up.” An excellent misdirect, and a nice message from Bruce Willis and Honda. Fred Armiston is a distraction though — he gets in the way of the message as I kept expecting something funny to happen. Would have been better without him.
Budweiser. Another salvo in the battle for touching sentimental ads, but this one seems the most genuine. Nice Dido soundtrack. And I love that the soldier was actually in the stadium at the Super Bowl, but I wish it could have gotten a little more attention from the announcers.
Chrysler. “Is there any thing more American than America?” in Dylan’s gravely voice. Nice images of the country, but I couldn’t help but wonder if in addition to the heart and soul of America, Bob Dylan just sold his heart and soul for Chrysler paycheck. Don’t like the “American Import” tagline, though — it seems to run counter to the theme of the ad. (Especially when you realize Chrysler is owned by the Italian company Fiat.)
Coca-Cola. So the little kid gets a chance to play football, happens on a fumble, runs for a touchdown, and never stops running. I don’t get it.
Butterfinger. Not sure what’s creepier — the shrink or the Butterfinger dude. No thanks.
Microsoft. At first, I wanted to know who Steve Gleason was. Microsoft answered that. But why is the computerized voiceover worse than the robotic voice of the first Macintosh, circa 1984?
Hyundai. Fun, although I can’t get over the fact that there is no way he can hear the voice from the neighboring car. But again — spring for a NEW commercial, folks!
Jaguar. “Maybe we just sound right” says the Brit. And that Jaguar does. Love all the British villians, and great way to showcase the awesome sound of that new Jaguar.
Chobani. I’ve said this before — food games with yogurt just isn’t my thing. But that’s a nice surprise with the Full House guys.
T-Mobile (again). You can’t help miss the (pink) message.
Sodastream. After all the brou-ha-ha, I think the ad was just average, and the “saving the world” part rings hollow.
24. (I’m making an exception here.) So London is on fire. And Jack is back. And Chloe!
Budweiser. My wife wants me to love this commercial. Cute puppy. But not my favorite. And I’m not sure I get it, either.
GoDaddy. Ew. Gross. But funny. Spray tans for everyone.
Doritos. Great Dane as a horse. For real. Nice use of the “Lone Ranger” theme, for those who have even the slightest clue what the Lone Ranger is/was.
Esurance. Great use of the after-Super Bowl spot, and way to call out how much money they’ve saved. Plus, they tie it into the brand promise. Very nice.
That’s what I think — how about you?