The Super Bowl – The Commercials

The Super Bowl is the premier sporting event of the year and it draws in a huge and diverse crowd of American shoppers.  Like moths to a light, companies are drawn to NBC on Super Bowl Sunday for these shoppers, even for the most expensive air time of the entire year.  At an estimated $3million per 30 seconds, a commercial is a huge risk for any company to take.  Whether or not the investment was worth it from a bottom line standpoint is not the business of this web site, but were the commercials entertaining?  Here’s a breakdown of the winners and losers:

It’s easy to start with the best as there was one clear winner, Ferris Bueller…who else?  Many people knew this one was coming as the buzz on the web and Twitter came on real strong from a YouTube teaser earlier, and this spot lived up to the hype.  It’s been 26 years since this movie’s release, but Matthew Broderick didn’t miss a beat in reprising his iconic role as a grown up, skipping work, and driving around his Honda CRV.  The only disappointment around this commercial was that we had to count its run-time in seconds instead of minutes and that it seems this was just an ad after all and not a very clever preview for Ferris 2.

Full version is like visiting an old friend, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhkDdayA4iA

And now for the worst.  Bud Light Platinum.  That’s a name for a credit card, not a beer.  And in two separate commercials, Bud told the audience nothing about it’s product.  This was as poorly constructed a set of commercials as I’ve seen with this much at stake.  The audience was really expected to buy into Bud Platinum on the visual tease of a vibrant blue beer bottle.  Forget taste or substance, people should drink this beer because it’s got an intriguing colored bottle.  This is not a strong message, even in the image conscious culture of young beer drinkers.  I anticipate that there will be many, many follow ups to those two Bud Plat commercials, but so many people have tuned out and turned off that this brand has an uphill battle to fight.  Instead of putting the money behind Bud Light, which is the strongest seller in the brand and usually the Super Bowl darling, Budweiser came out swinging with…well, who knows what it is other than its name?

In commercials, the best way to succeed is to either inspire or entertain the audience.  Don’t educate us and don’t scare us, that’s terrible.  Now inspiring commercials don’t usually get as much play as comedic or entertaining commercials, but there were two stars in this category tonight…and one failure.  The two stars were Best Buy Mobile and their phone and app geniuses and the night cap of great commercials, the NBC 24-hour Sports Network spot.  The big ad that didn’t work was voiced by a legend, but it just didn’t work.  Poor Clint Eastwood, didn’t anyone think that a quiet, word-driven commercial wouldn’t play well during a Super Bowl party?  If the audience would have watched this commercial, what they would have seen was a semi-political, preachy, incongruent, discordant, and weird (why does it switch from color to black and white?) ad that tried to win on imagery alone.  This was terrible.

The last subset of commercials to discuss could be lengthy because there were a lot of them, the movie preview commercial.  Big budget action movies come out in full force to a big budget event like the Super Bowl and there was no shortage of previews this year, The Avengers: John  Carter, Battleship, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and then Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  All of these movies  are big budget releases, but they are not at all equals.  Of all these trailers, two big ones stand out above the rest:  The Avengers and Star Wars.  I’m up for a good preview any day, but John Carter will not be profitable, it’s too high-budget for its unrecognizable main character who everybody is going to confuse with John Connor from Terminator until they see him dressed up like Conan the Barbarian.  Battleship is a big stretch as well.  Using a board game to inspire a movie has been done a ton of times, but the nostalgia toy box must be getting pretty thin if Battleship is sailing onto the big screen.  And G.I. Joe 2?  Well…that’s probably all that needs to be said, except that if a bunch of ninjas with swords are hanging from a mountain by ropes and dueling with swords, I don’t know why they just don’t cut the ropes of the bad guys and save us all trouble of watching a totally unnecessary sword fight among a bunch of soldiers with guns.
The Super Bowl itself had an amazing finish, but the football definitely outweighed the poor overall quality of the commercials.  They were only entertaining in the margins and if it wasn’t for the stars mentioned above and a couple of cute Doritos spots to lighten the mood, we would have been left with very little  to cheer and nothing to spend our money on.  One last little ad to put a smile on your face from NBC:  The Olympics are coming!  London 2012, see you there!

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