2010 Super Bowl XLIV Commercials; A Brief (Or Just Briefs) Critique

100207-superbowl-commercial-hyundai-luxury-aAfter watching the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV I have a few initial thoughts on the ads.  In no particular order.

The subliminal winner, in true ’speak-of-the-devil’ fashion I think, was Louis Vuitton.  In a Hyundai ad about making ‘luxury’ avbailable to everyone, a close facsimile to the Louis Vuitton pattern was seen on a basketball.  High-end brought down to base activity.  Interesting that of all the scenes of ‘luxury’ Louis Vuitton was the only discernible brand in all of it.  I think it is just a testament to how well Louis Vuitton has played the visual identity and branding game in the past few years.  The Burberry plaid pattern has devolved into ‘chav’ territory.  But the Louis Vuitton symbol pattern remains a visual marker of luxury.  And I bet they didn’t have to pay a dime for the exposure.  Well played.

There were too many ads featuring men (and others) without pants.  Why?  Is this just the logical conclusion that the proliferation of the Improv Everywhere annual ‘No Pants’ Subway Ride has brought?  Improv Everywhere – cool.  Three or four ads during the Super Bowl – overkill.

100207-superbowl-commercial-budlight-autotune-1-aThere were way too many Bud and Bud Light ads.  How much money do they have to burn?  I kept thinking that all this ad money could have been put into making their beer taste better.  The Clydesdale / cow friendship ad fell flat to me.  The horse angle has been explored for too many years now.  And the Bud Light ‘autotune’ ad featuring T-Pain felt not like a riff on T-Pain himself but more like a rip-off of the Gregory Brothers and their ‘Autotune the News’ hits on YouTube in early 2009.

100207-superbowl-commercial-etrade-firat-class-aOther theme expansions did better however.  The E-Trade baby commercial series had some cute bits, the best of which was the ‘First Class’ commercial with the latest E-Trade baby sitting in first class making fun of his friend sitting back in coach.  Not sure how much further they can push this though…  Maybe it would be best to stop while the E-Trade baby is ahead and come up with something new for next year.


100207-superbowl-commercial-dorritos-1-aDorito’s had a couple commercials that were on the edge of good.  But just not quite there for one reason or the other.  The one where the guy gets the Dorito stuck in his neck that was thrown by his friend was good but had nothing to do with them being at the gym.  It felt incongruous to me.  The dog getting revenge was probably the funniest of the bunch.  However I have never been a big fan of overly fake animal paws doing things and I just could not believe that the dog would be that interested in a bag of Dorito’s.  But maybe dogs like them.  Who knows.  I don’t have one.  A dog that is… or a bag of Dorito’s.

100207-superbowl-commercial-dove-men-aThe Dove commercial pushing their new ‘Dove For Men’ line was pretty good.  Well directed and edited.  The best bit was the cute-but-vaguely-creepy shot of the guy in the tub with three little guys that looked like him.  Funny but weird.  And, come to think of it, I don’t know that any of the imagery would convince me that I need or deserve skin care products.  I understand that Dove is starting in on an audience ‘nut’ that is a hard one to crack… but this is maybe not there quite yet.  Still fun though.

And speaking of ‘man’ commercials, I thought the Dodge Charger commercial was relatively good.  The ‘I do all that you ask’ theme played out, not for sex, but for the right to drive a Charger.  Not bad.  Still not convinced about the car though.

A couple ads featured midgets.  Is it a new trend?  An odd Spinal Tap reference is one thing but a trend is another…

GoDaddy should think of something new.  The spokes model thing is just lame.  The name ‘GoDaddy’ barely connects with the services they offer but the addition of good looking women as ’spokesmodels’ just makes it all very odd.  Sexy titillation is not something that normally comes to mind when one thinks about web hosting.

One of the more clever ads was the ad for Volkswagen reviving the ‘Punchbug’ game that kids used to play back in the 70’s and 80’s when they say a VW Beetle on the road.  The interesting thing is that the ad tries to make the case to expand the game to include all VW models.  A stretch I think.  It was Punch BUG, as in ‘Bettle’, after all.  Not to mention that the game worked because it was easy to spot the one-of-a-kind shape of the iconic VW Beetle on the road.  Today, many of Volkswagen’s line of vehicles look not so different than most other car brands out there.  So a lot harder to pick them out of the crowd.  I think the game could be revived to rejuvenate the rejuvenated line of new Bugs.  They are still super cute and have a distinctive shape.  But it might fizzle quickly if Volkswagen tries to push it too much to apply to all of its cars.  Anyway, a fun memory and a good idea that deserves a fresh exploration.

Betty White was a good sport for Snickers.  It is a very good line, and one of the most memorable of the evening, but who, unscripted, would say, “you’re playing like Betty White out there”? 

I like the Simpsons and I like Coke but I thought the Coke ad featuring the Simpson’s cast was flat.  It could have been a lot crazier.  And also odd in that it dealt with the subject of lost fortunes and house eviction.  Something all too real to many viewers I am sure.  What was the message?  A coke will make your financial ruin all better?

The best ad of the night, though, could have been one of the simplest.   The Google ad did nothing but tell a sort of story using words typed into its search window.  It was so sweet that the wife even said ‘aww’ at the end of it.  I rolled my eyes but the point was made.  I think the ad was good because it was so simple.  It was probably written and made in about ten minutes.  And probably for very little money.  No big name stars making apperances, etc.  But the genius behind it was that the ad itself felt very much in line with the brand ‘essence’ of Google.  Straight-forward and to the point.  Simple but great.  The ominous subtext, though, (to me anyway) is that with only a few words, Google can know quite a bit about you.  So be careful what you type…