It’s official - the day after the Super Bowl is now pretty much the slowest news day on Earth. Not only because this year’s game was not all that fun to look at, but also because the commercials were so universally dull and annoying that there was no real “best” one. As much as I love judging commercials in my head, I find it sort of irritating that doing so in the media has become almost as much of a post-game ritual as judging the play in the game itself.
The reason for this is because while the performance of the teams in a game is pretty measurable, there is no way to objectively judge whether a commercial is “good” or “bad” – it’s all just people’s opinion. So the various media outlets rush off to try to find advertising “experts”* who put together top 10 lists of “best” and “worst” ads. Why do they do this? Because the public loves ‘em! It’s a way for regular folks to validate their ad “smarts” – to say “See? Those ad guys totally agreed with my opinions – that makes me an ad expert too!”. So now those articles are *everywhere*; a Google search for “rating Super Bowl ads” generates a list of 22.5 MILLION hits**
But here’s the thing – whether a particular viewer likes an ad or not depends largely on whether they are part of the target demographic that the commercial is aiming for. For example, younger people might not have liked the FloMax ad simply because it makes them uncomfortable to think about not being able to pee when they get older. Similarly, older folks were probably more uncomfortable with the “Brokeback Snickers” ad than younger folks who are more exposed to (and comfortable with) same-sex relationships. This bias then reveals itself in the reviews that each one writes in their particular publication.
That said, here are my rants about the worst ads this year, as measured by me. I’m only going to discuss the ones I didn’t like, because frankly, the only ones I liked were the CareerBuilder ones*** and the one with Robert Goulet.
- Budweiser: Has Jay-Z beating the winningest coach in NFL history at a simulated football game – yeah, like that would *ever*happen. This only would have worked if, in a later commercial, Shula had kicked Jay-Z’s butt in a rap-battle, 8-Mile style.
- Snickers: Here’s an idea, let’s make a subject that makes the target audience uncomfortable and then use that to market our product to them! *I* thought it was worth a chuckle, but I didn’t think it was good marketing.
- GM: Hey, all you employees out there! Just so you know, if you drop a screw like this robot did you’re going to get fired, muddle your way through a variety of dead-end jobs, and then throw yourself off a bridge! Enjoy the game!
- Van Heusen: All the hype about this ad, but the subtext has bene missed in most of the reviews I’ve read. They all talk about how the ad ends with the guy waking up with the hot chick draped all over him, but don’t they see that obviously she’s the one who picks out his clothes to begin with? I sense a bit of a chicken vs. egg problem here, as thousands of old men run out to buy Van Heusen undershirts and wake up disappointed to find no sports car, no meeting with the boss, and no hot chick.
- Salesgenie.com: Honestly, I don’t have the energy to rip on this one anymore. See all the other reviews and you’ll pretty much get what I’m feeling about this universally panned ad.
* Typically Creative Directors at local advertising agencies or the editors of the publication itself if it’s cheap.
** Yes, I know that many of those hits probably aren’t exactly relevant, but still, that’s only 400k fewer results than a search for “boobs” generates and think of how much "boobs" is on the entire internet. Get it? Interestingly enough, the search for singular “boob” generates only about half as many results (10.9 million).
*** Damn, those binder clips would *hurt*!