Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The Super Bowl
Everyone knows Super Bowl Sunday is advertising's big day. New concepts and new ideas that "push the envelope" (such an overused phrase that is), usually come together to create good fodder for office gossip on Monday around the water cooler.

Spoofs seemed to be the overriding theme in the Super Bowl XXXVII ads. A spoof of The Strongman Contest, Antiques Roadshow, Gilligan's Island, The Sixth Sense, Castaway, Perry Mason, and an existing Miller Light Ad. There was also a good share of animals causing havoc. So without further ado, here are the ads and my review of them. (View the spots here.) Ads are grouped by their product category, so the comparison between competitors and their ads and the different approaches they took are clear.

Beer and Alcoholic Beverages
Anheuser Busch / Budweiser: "Replay"
Ad Agency: Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston
Summary: A zebra referee looks at an instant replay for a ruling during a football game between horses (return to a theme from a couple years ago), while two cowboys look on.
Opinion: A simple spot, shot well, and it doesn't try too hard. It stood out because it was different. Especially compared to the other Anheuser Busch spots.

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Strongest Man - Hero"
Ad Agency: Downtown Partners, Toronto
Summary: In a spoof of the Strongest Man, contestants are about to carry an industrial sized fridge filled with Bud Light to the finish line. A fan runs in and steals the fridge. As he attempts to leave the arena, he gets knocked down by an even more feeble fan. This continues until an old man with a cane ends up with the fridge.
Opinion: Not a bad spot. But not great either. There's something familiar with this general concept.

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Parade"
Ad Agency: Downtown Partners, Toronto
Summary: A clown in a parade who appears to be walking upside down (feet look like hands, head looks like a butt) stops in a bar to have a Bud Light. He is oblivious to the stares around him as he drinks through his "ass". He asks the bartender if he can get a hot dog, to which the bartender responds, "I don't think so."
Opinion: Crass. It is very visual which is prefect for this medium, although, I'm not sure about resorting to the "bathroom type joke".

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Reggae"
Ad Agency: DDB, Chicago
Summary: A guy walking his small black dog sees a sign in a bar window for Bud Light. He wants to go in but notices a sign that says "No Pets". He pauses for a minute and then puts the dog on his head, a la dreadlocks, and speaks with a Jamaican accent. Last shot is of a woman sitting next to him at the bar reaching up to touch the dreads, and they growl at her.
Opinion: Typical Bud Light spot. Not all that surprising. And in the mix of the others, this one was one of the weaker Bud Light ads to air.

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Sounds of the Sea"
Ad Agency: DDB, Chicago
Summary: A man watches another pick up women on the beach using a conch shell and a suave line. The man decides to try it, but when he puts the shell to his ear, a crab grabs his face. Next shot of him is at a bar on the beach, getting a bottle of Bud Light. The bartender uses the shell to open the bottle.
Opinion: A good spot. Some what predictable but it got a laugh out of me. A good use of "showing, not telling" a story.

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Guy's Worst Nightmare"
Ad Agency: Downtown Partners, Toronto
Summary: A man is on the phone with a friend who warns him to check out his girlfriend's mother because she will look like her in 20 years. When he goes to answer the door he is relieved to see the mother is hot, but when he opens the door he sees her over-exaggerated behind.
Opinion: The fear guys have about their wives/girlfriends turning into their mother is different. At least something we haven't seen in ads. A decent spot.

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Arms"
Ad Agency: Fusion Idea Lab, Chicago
Summary: Man and woman are on a dinner date. The man explains why he has decided to get a third arm, so he never has to put his Bud Light down. He also uses it to grab her ass as they are leaving the restaurant.
Opinion: An ad with potential as being funny but, it didn't quite do all it could have. Makes me wonder if the Creative had more there but the client wouldn't let them go for it. It just felt as though something was missing.

Anheuser Busch / Budweiser: "Good Listener"
Ad Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
A couple is at a bar. The woman is talking about a friend and her relationships. The man appears to be listening but is really watching the game on the TV just over the woman's shoulder. He even superimposes the game announcer's voice into hers. At the end of the spot she compliments him on being a good listener. This was a good spot. Especially to the target of men, and even still, you have the women who know that this is what men are doing if there's a game on and you're talking to them.

Anheuser Busch / Bud Light: "Yoga"
Ad Agency: DDB, Chicago
Summary: Two guys sneak into a yoga class (with their Bud Light) to watch women work out. The instructor eventually sees them in the back of the class and throws them out.
Opinion: This "concept" has been done, and done again. Nothing original here at all.

Anheuser Busch / Budweiser: "Motor Mouth"
Ad Agency: DDB, Chicago
Summary: Ad staring Tim McGraw as the designated driver. According to the ad, the benefit of being the designated driver is being able to decide who to drop off first.
Opinion: An okay ad. It down plays the real importance of designated drivers though. The whole point of them is to save lives, not to get rid of an annoying passenger. They missed the mark on this one.

Anheuser Busch / Budweiser: "Roommates"
Ad Agency: Fusion Idea Lab, Chicago
Summary: A guy practices asking his girlfriend if he can date her roommate in the bathroom mirror. When he does it for real she says "yes" and he is shocked.
Opinion: Another "typical" beer spot. Nothing new or exciting in the concept here. Another one that feels like you've seen it before, or at least something similar.

Anheuser Busch / Michelob Ultra: "Resolution"
Ad Agency: DDB, Chicago
Summary: Beautiful people working out and being "fit". Tagline: "Lose the carbs not the taste". Opinion: People working out in a beer ad? Definitely different. And it fits with their tag. Although there is something weird about seeing people exercising in a beer ad.

Coors Brewing Co. / Coors Light: "Love Songs" (new edit)
Ad Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago
Summary: The same "Long Songs" ad that has been airing for a while, changed to have it appear as if it's being viewed on a VCR, fast forwarding to the twins and rewinding to see them again and again.
Opinion: Did they not have a budget for a new spot? Or did they put all the money into the media placement? I have to wonder if this was a last minute decision to get in on the Super Bowl, to try to compete with all the Budweiser (and related lines) ads or something. I never did like this spot.

Smirnoff Ice / Triple Black: "Magnet", "Wirecutter"
Ad Agency: J. Walter Thompson, NY
Summary: Bottle fo Smirnoff Ice is covered in barbed wire. In "Magnet" a magnet frees the bottle, and in "Wirecutter", wire cutters are used to free the bottle.
Opinion: These were okay but, nothing exciting. I think their "Blind Date" ad was much better. Not quite sure why barbed wire either. Flat concepts.

Smirnoff Ice: "Blind Date"
Ad Agency: J. Walter Thompson, NY
Summary: A woman sits down at a bar and sees a man who she assumes is her blind date, and introduces herself as "Alex". He informers her that he isn't her blind date and as they talk he sees a car drive up with a typical "bad blind date" guy getting out of the car. He walks to the door as the blind date is entering the bar and introduces himself as "Alex" and the blind date guy takes off.
Opinion: A nice spot. Something different in this one in relation to what everyone else is doing.

Cell phones
AT&T Wireless / mlife: "Antiques Bandwagon"
Ad Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, NY
Summary: Parody of PBS "Antiques Roadshow" as a man hands an antique expert a traditional
phone. It is said to be a "useless relic".
Opinion: I liked this ad. It was better than the other ads they have done for mlife. The importance of getting an "mlife" was clear as the days of phones with wires are behind us was clear.

AT&T Wireless / mlife: "Gilligan"
Ad Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, NY
Summary: In a spoof of "Gilligan's Island", mlife asks you to consider what would have happened if Gilligan had a cell phone.
Opinion: An interesting spot. I guess on some levels the spot is kind of stupid because Gilligan wouldn't have been able to have a cell phone. Although it does tie into the importance of an "mlife".

Cadillac: "17th Street"
Ad Agency: D'Arcy, Troy
Summary: A man on a train views the history of Cadillac.
Opinion: There's something about these history of the carmaker ads that makes me want to scream. They are all so "samey". When the majority of automakers have been around for years, after the first one did it, you, as a competitor need to find something different to say. Sure, Cadillac has used this similar approach in the past, but I felt the same way about it then as I do now. They need a new angle for thier branding.

Cadillac / CTS: "Tunnel"
Ad Agency: D'Arcy, Troy
Summary: The CTS speeds along picturesque landscape. It heads into a tunnel and is going so fast that as it exits the tunnel, leaves and highway signs come thundering out behind it.
Opinion: A slight spin on the typical car ad. Although not by much. So it goes fast. Ok. It makes me want to say "so what"?

Chrysler / Crossfire: "Crossfire"
Ad Agency: BBDO / Detroit, Detroit
Summary: Celine Dion drives around in a car while we listen to her sing.
Opinion: This ad smacks of the ad for Jaguar with Sting from a couple years ago. In both the singer is in the car, while their songs play. Only a different car, different music, different singer and one drives while the other is in the back seat. Unorignial. I'm happy to at least be able to be bashing this ad for the concept rather than just because Celion in is it.

Dodge / Ram Heavy Duty: "Beef Jerky"
Ad Agency : BBDO / Detroit, Detroit
Summary: The driver's passenger starts choking on a hunk of beef. To help his fellow man, the driver speeds up and brakes quickly, expelling the beef jerky on to the windshield.
Opinion: Was there no other idea to show the power of the new truck engine? And who would ever think to break quickly to stop someone from choking? Rather unrealistic and just stupid.

Charles Schwab: "Delivery"
Ad Agency: GSD&M, Austin
Summary: A man sprints through his neigborhood, chased by an unknown foe, which turns out to be his mailman with his brokerage statement.
Opinion: With the way the economy is, I'd think people would want to run from their brokerage statement too. So I'm not sure why they went that way with this spot. Well shot.

Fair,Isaac & Company / myfico.com: "Future"
Ad Agency: Space 150, Minneapolis
Summary:Typical families are happy in their ideal homes, brought to them by myfico.com. Opinion: BORING! They obviously used most of their budget for air time, since they used stock shots. I'm not quite sure why they felt it was worth while to spend the money of the air time during the Super Bowl, instead of during some other "tv event". The ad was so uncreative that it was easily lost in the crowd. Nothing memorable to help it break through the clutter at all.

H&R Block: "Willie"
Ad Agency: Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis
Summary: Willie Nelson is forced to shave his beard in an ad for a razor company because his accountant screwed up his taxes.
Opinion: A fun play on Willie's real tax problems. It shows the importance of getting your taxes done right the first time, which seems to be on strategy.

Job search
HotJobs.com: "Rainbow Connection"
Ad Agency: Brand Architecture, New York
Summary: People in offices sing "The Rainbow Connection"
Opinion: Huh? What were they thinking? I was expecting Kermit to pop up at some point. Acutally that may have made the spot more interesting. This aired after monster.com's spot (not directly after), and in comparison, it was missing lots. Hardly memorable.

Monster.com: "Driver"
Ad Agency: Arnold Worldwide, Boston
Summary: A mack truck drives through a town with no one behind the wheel. And it crashes into a building. Meanwhile it cuts to shots of a truck driver drinking coffee and reading the help wanted pages or something like that.
Opinion: Definitely memorable. Hard to forget this one. But, it's a question of remembering what the ad was about as well. Their "white collar, blue collar, no collar" tagline for the spot works, although I wonder if they couldn't have come up with something shorter. But it works.

Public Service Annoucements (PSAs)
National Football League (NFL) / United Way: "Charles Woodson", "Matt Burke"
Ad Agency: Young & Rubicam, New York
Summary: Spots show the football players interacting with students and helping them to learn.
Opinion: Sort of "samey" with football players helping kids in the classroom. See it before. Although the copy in the "Matt Burke" spot was funny when one student asks where rain comes from and he gets all scientific, and the kid stops him and asks "doesn't it come from the sky?" The number of times it was mentioned that Burke went to Harvard was a bit much- it almost made me wonder if Harvard threw in a few bucks to help pay for the spot.

Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA): "Pregnancy"
Ad Agency: McCann-Erickson, New York
Summary: Pregnancy shows a youngish couple waiting for the results of an at-home pregnancy test. Copy says they are going to be the youngest grandparents ever, as the shot cuts to their teenage daughter. All becuase she smoked pot and impaired her judgement.
Opinion: I like how they used the twist in the spot, but come on, most teens who get pregnant because of poor judgement can point the finger at underage drinking, not pot. I'm honestly tired of these "scare tactics".

Philip Morris / Youth Smoking Prevention: "Field of Dreams"
Ad Agency: Young & Rubicam, New York
Summary: Father and son play baseball. At the start of the spot, the kid is a toddler, and as the spot goes on he ages and becomes a teeen. Copy talks about keeping kids healthy and talking to them about smoking.
Opinion: An average spot. The visual is some what intriguing, seeing the kid grow up. But that's pretty much where it ends.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy: "Ghost Office", "Ghost Subway"
Ad Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, NY
Summary: Ghost Office shows a woman being confronted by a girl who died because of violence connected to drugs.
Ghost Subway shows a man on a subway train being confronted by dead people who blame him for their deaths because he did drugs.
Opinion: More of those ever popular scare tactics. And very "Sixth Sence".

Sub Shops
Subway: "Dreams"
Ad Agency: Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer EuroRSCG, NY
Summary: Jared dreams of having a Subway shop in his kitchen.
Opinion: Enough with Jared already. Does the fact that he wishes he had a sub shop in his kitchen make me want to go to Subway? No. Not at all. I would have liked to have seem something more original for the Super Bowl from them.

Quizno's Subs: "Focus"
Ad Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners, NY
Summary: A chef is so fixated on making the best subs using the best ingredients that he forgets to put on pants.
Opinion: An okay spot. Although I wonder about how appealing people find it to get food cooked by a man lacking pants.

Non-alcoholic beverages
Pepsi / Diet Pepsi: "Mud People"
Ad Agency : BBDO, NY
Summary: A kid at a muddy rock concert (a la Woodstock), discovers his father standing next to him, and that his mother is lost in the mosh pit. Tagline: Drink Young.
Opinion: My first question is why did they vary the "think young" tag line? Just seems unneccary. I liked this spot in that it follows with the other "Think Young" spots. And it's a heck of a lot better than their Britney ads of last year. The campaign as a whole is very good (and has great legs) and I would like to see more executions of it.

Pepsi-Cola / Sierra Mist: "Hydrant"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: A man is walking his dog, and incourages it to pee when they reach a fire hydrant. The dog kicks the fire hydrant over and both dog and master and blasted by the water.
Opinion: This ad keeps with their other ad of a dog leading his master to "refreshment". A bit silly but it keeps with their strategy.

Pepsi-Cola / Sierra Mist: "Monkey"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: Two smart monkeys build a seesaw to launch themselves into the nearby polar bear pool.
Opinion: Monkeys are always good. Always use monkeys. *smirk* This ad falls flat compared to the other spot. Why do we care that monkeys want refreshment? Obviously it's for the entertainment value. But there are a few links in this ad that just don't make sense. Do you have to be ingenious to figure out how to get refreshed? Sierra Mist is like being a monkey risking it's life getting into a polar bear's pool to cool off? Who knew?

Pepsi Twist: "Osbournes"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: Ozzy dreams that his kids are the Osmonds. When he screams for Sharon, he wakes up in bed with Florence Henderson.
Opinion: I liked this spot. I find Ozzy amusing, the way he bumbles through life. And he was very "himself" in the spot. His facial expressions in this were great. I'm not quite sure why the Florence Henderson bit was added...wasn't there enough 70s through-back with the Osmonds? It keeps with the tone and concept of other campaigns that Pepsi has done (Mike Myers spot, Halie Berry, etc).

Gatorade: "23 vs 39"
Ad Agency: Element 79 Partners, Chicago
Summary: Michael Jordan plays some basketball against his younger self.
Opinion: A well done spot, but do people really care about Michael Jordan anymore? If you're going to fork over that kind of "star money", I think it would have been better to go with someone a bit more current. But then they would have needed a totally different concept :)

Check Cards
Visa / Check Card: "The Barbers / Super Bowl"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: The Barbers are reused in this spot, as the cashier makes a comment how one is playing in the Super Bowl and the other is not.
Opinion: At first this seemed to be an old ad, until you listened to the copy. A smart variation using the media placement.

Visa / Check Card: "Yao Ming"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: Yao Ming tries to write a check in NYC. The cashier points to a sign that says "No Checks" while saying "Yo". Then Yao points to himself and says "Yao". This continues throughout the spot. Ends with Yogi Berra continuing the joke.
Opinion: A nice spot. Very simple and a nice twist on an old concept.

Discover Card: "Diapers"
Summary: A couple with twins use the Discover Card to get money to use towards a night out on the town for themselves by getting paid on the things they buy anyways, mainly diapers. Lots and lots of diapers.
Opinion: An average spot. It made me wonder what the parent are feeding these kids to go through so many diapers though.

MasterCard/ Debit Card "Dead Presidents"
Summary: Dead Presidents (Lincoln, Washington,etc) are left at home to the convience of debt cards as a man goes out on a date.
Opinion: Using the "Priceless" concept, this spot was so-so. There have been much better versions of this concept. And $10 for two ice cream cones?? Where did they get the ice cream? Tiffanys?

Reebok: "Terry Tate Office Linebacker"
Ad Agency: Arnell Group, New York
Summary: Terry Tate tackles office workers who aren't working up to their potential.
Opinion: I really liked this spot. I think it stood out. Who doesn't want certain office comrades to get tackled now and again? Many critics have said that they didn't understand what the connection to the shoe was, or why it was going to make people want to go out and by their shoes. I don't think that was the aim of the spot. As the new official shoe of the NFL, I think Reebok was trying to tie into that fact. Not that their shoes are high performance, stylish, or anything else. I'm looking forward to seeing where they take this.

Hanes / Tagless T-shirt: "Jackie Chan Goes Tagless"
Ad Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond
Summary: Jackie is shown doing his well-known moves in an attempt to scratch the itch caused by the tag on his t-shirt.
Opinion: Jackie's moves are always entertaining. But Michael Jordan's appearance in this spot is hardly worth mentioning.

Levi's / Type 1 Jeans: "Stampede"
Ad Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York
Summary: A couple is walking down an empty street when a stampede of buffalo come at them. Instead of running, they just stand there and ride the rush of the moment.
Opinion: This ad had me wondering if it was for Levi's or the Gap at first. But then cleaver cuts to the Levi logo on the jeans helped to clarify. I'm sorry, but if someone was to do that they'd end up a bloody mess on the pavement. The CGI was well done. For all the money spent on this ad, I think they could have done something more simple that made more sense. I have a question about their tag line too. "Bold since 2003"- so Levi's weren't bold before then? Hmm.

Others with no competitors in their market groups
Trident: "Squirrel"
Ad Agency: J. Walter Thompson, NY
Summary: A squirrel crawls up the pant leg of the 5th dentist and bites him "you know where". And he screams "no" after all the others say "yes".
Opinion: A variation of the "4 out of 5 doctors recommend" "Fly" ad that aired earlier in the week. I think this one was better. It's about time they jumped on this idea. It's a good conecpt.

Federal Express (FedEx): "Desert Island"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: A Fedex driver with long beard holding fed ex box shows up on doorstep of a house. A woman answers and he says he was shipwrecked for 5 years but had to get the package to her. She thanks him and he asks what's in side...she says "just silly stuff, like a global positioning unit, seeds, etc."
Opinion: This spot was very " Castaway." It would have been nicer to have done this spot closer to the movie when it was more current. Although, who knows. They could have but shelved it. I liked this ad. It was effective in showing how FedEx will get you your package by any means. The quality is up there with some of their other spots, like "We Apologize" from 1998.

McDonald's: "Tough Day"
Ad Agency: DDB, Chicago
Summary: A father and son are tuckered out after their respective hard days and are "rewarded" with McDonalds.
Opinion: This spot wasn't all that memorable. A different twist, having the kid have a rough day but over all, it is no where near to their spot a couple years back of the baby in the swing.

AOL Broadband: "Neighbors"
Ad Agency: BBDO, NY
Summary: After the Super Bowl game, neighbors in an apartment run into the person's apartment with the "best" internet connection to watch the Super Bowl ads on AOL. Tag: Everything you want, instantly."
Opinion: This was a good way for AOL to market the fact that they had the Super Bowl ads to view. Probably not the most exciting execution of the idea that they could have done, but considering this was a last minute decision to put an ad up during the game, it wasn't too bad.

Sony: "The Trip"
Ad Agency: Young & Rubicam, New York
Summary: An older man prepares for his trip into outerspace, making sure to bring his video camera. Copy says "when they ask where they money went, show them".
Opinion: Very nicely shot spot. I like the whole concept but I wonder whether knowing you're parents are blowing you're inheritance on a trip into outspace plays as well as other options. It's still a strong spot that gets the message across.

WB Mason: "Perry Mason"
Summary: A spoof on a Perry Mason court room scene.
Opinion: I didn't even realize the connection of Mason and Mason until I typed the above. Were we supposed to get that while watching the ad? This is another idea that has been done before.

The Movie Ads- As usual, Hollywood got into the game with spots for upcoming movies and movies. They inculded The Hulk, The Matrix: Reloaded, Daredevil, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Charlie's Angels 2, and Bad Boys II. None were anything to write home about. Just your typical movie previews.

Additional- ABC self-promotion: The Practice had ads spoofing the MIller Light "Cat Fight" spot, in order to advertise that the show is moving to a new day and time. Two beefcakes argue over "Better night! New Time!" Then it cuts to the women in the show watching the ad. Mildly amusing. The other variation is two women having the same fight, cutting to the male cast as one says "I love it when women fight over me." There were a ton for Alias (too many), and a few for some new shows as well.

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