I read somewhere that it is only a matter of time before we as citizens of the US make a joint resolution to make the Sunday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. Not a terribly bad idea for a country that ranks pretty low in overall vacation time in industrialized nations. The eurozone, especially, sees the US as the kind of people who work very hard and don’t know how to enjoy themselves. A look around from this side of the ocean and it seems like Americans enjoy life a little too much. In that argument is a healthy balance of political natures, work ethics, and more than a good dose of patriotism. What we can agree on, however, is that the Super Bowl has created a kind of celebration for advertisements. Those deeply rooted American companies shell out the big dollars and tons of money on creating an exciting message of brand awareness in under two minutes. Many critics loved the Clint Eastwood/Detroit Chrysler ad which was probably my second favourite ad this year. It has a deeply patriotic theme with a beautiful sense of tone. Eastwood delivers an inspiring two minute message not only promoting the growth of Chrysler (which is profitable, apparently, despite the debt from the bailout) but also the rebounding American economy which reported some 240,000 new jobs in a recent report, which has spurred the market up despite worrying news from Greece. I think it was a not altogether inappropriate message, if just a bit slanted.
My favourite ad this year was from Volkswagen, who followed up last year’s smashing success Vader Kid with The Dog Strikes Back:
A neat concept about a dog working out in order to chase the new Beetle. Good simple concept, easy to understand with a little tie in to the New Beetle’s design. From what was an iconic bulky model to the newer, slimmer, and sportier model. It also plays on current social sensibilities about trying to be health conscious and the current state of exercise in the US (if you’ve read my blog, you know how running Americans are on the rise). Finally, my favorite part, the callback at the end to Vader Kid by showing the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope. Again this is strategically placed to do a number of things. First, a simple callback to what was a tremendous advertising success in Vader Kid. Second, using the Star Wars theme to draw older fans who recognize the venue and the scene. And thirdly, I would imagine this has some part in helping to keep attention focused on the re-release (in 3D!) of the entire Star Wars saga in theaters.*
*As a side note, I’m torn about this plan. Good on George Lucas to take the old horse out and beat it senseless for profit. Star Wars fans are kind of obligated to go and shell out $12 a ticket to see these “remastered” movies in 3D. This current rash of “comic book” movies are being made because they have a very good customer base that will see the movies, good or bad, it is a compulsion. Star Wars is playing Disney’s game here by waiting a half a generation and re-releasing the same movie to not only get the old fans but the old fans taking their kids out too.
As an aside to an aside, an old (old as in former, not as in age) co-worker of mine brought up a brilliant point of view about movie remakes. The general gist being that he would like to see more remakes. Imagine if movies were like the theatre performing arts. Every year there are countless renditions of classic pieces each with an individual twist, a sort of personal touch, maybe the story itself adapted to fit the current trends of the times. How great would movies be in this same format? How about a remake of Star Wars by Tim Burton or Clint Eastwood’s take on Grease or Michael Bay taking on West Side Story? I’d pay for real real money to see Simon Pegg take on Casablanca.
Overall, Super Bowl commercials were only so-so. One article I found blames the internet and especially social networking on the general floppiness of the commercials which are generally celebrated as much as the game itself.
Essentially, the author, Jeff Bercovici of Forbes, states that the “planned leaks” of this year’s Super Bowl ads made for a weaker product on showcase day. A lot of the ads that were released online were trimmed for TV and therefore less effective than the full versions that were made available a week before. The Ferris Bueller/Honda CRV ad comes to mind as disappointing when seen on the TV but brilliant when it was released before online. Not only did the still screens make for an incredible buzz due to old fans of Ferris Bueller speculating on a new movie but also just general nostalgia. This nostalgia was also a big problem according to Bercovici. I tend to disagree when he says that playing off of old viral bits to try to make another viral hit is cheap and uninspired. While in the digital age, our collective appreciation for things disappates quickly, I still think there is charm in casting Betty White to prop your show, or calling back to Vader Kid, or using talking babies. I do agree with Bercovici’s point on maybe advertising is changing from being made memorable to being made to share. I think this is an important time in marketing, as well as business in general. The internet has changed the game completely and more and more money is being pumped into campaigns that are meant to spread quickly but not to take too much time. We’ll see how next year looks, I’m not willing to give up Super Bowl ads quite yet but I will expect to see them well before the Super Bowl.
Again, if you run into an Ad that you Love, drop me a line here or in my inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a good chance that it’ll be featured in a future installment.