February 28, 2011

Superbowl 2011: The Bottom 5

I present to you - this year's worst Superbowl commercials. They are all equally as bad, for different reasons. Some had the potential to be huge, but it's a fine line, if you aim very high, between nail or fail.


One of the best commercials of this year's Superbowl? Well, not in my world. I feel like watching an Eminem music video, but not a Chrysler commercial. I am totally unclear what they are trying to sell me? Luxury? The finer things in life? The Chrysler 200 is one hundred less than the 300, and that is far from being a luxury vehicle. So we are talking democratic car mass market here. Why do they talk about luxury? Detroit is an ugly city. My apologies to all people up there, but I will not come and visit if I don't have to. You have done cars up there for decades, but lately not cared much about innovation and quality, but more about union contracts, ridiculous health insurance plans, and resting on your laurels. The message here is just wrong. And pulling in Eminem to help out, shows the devastation of mind here. And why is there a concert hall and a choir? This is one expensive Eminem music video, nothing else.


Oh my god! Yes, this woman is hot, but she is going down fast. Shape ups? Seriously? Those super ugly, ridiculously looking shoes? I thought you were associating yourself with cool people (Kanye is a regular on your TV show), and were appreciating the finer things in life (living in the 'Smyths' in New York's Tribeca, having a super stylish store named 'Dash' in Manhattan). You either over your zenith, and you know it, and are trying to cash out, or you are suffering from bad judgment disorder when it comes to endorsing the right brand.



I can hear dozens of people say: Oh, how cute. Well, maybe. But cute doesn't sell product. What I see is a story that features a frog. A slimy, wet, and smelly frog. Then there is a cut. And now I see a Hershey's kiss. In my mind, the Hershey's kiss is now linked to the slimy, wet, and smelly frog. That's gross. Don't they get it? This was another bad transfer.


What a nice short film! With Adrian Brody! Wow! This is one expensive piece of film. The length. The star. All the actors. The film maker. Wow. I am impressed. Beautiful execution, unfortunately very predictable, and not outstanding. Also way too long. This is just very bad, because it's so much money that doesn't get any bang for the buck. Although it's very beautiful.


Here is another one from the category: just stupid. Very stupid. Super stupid. Some twenty-something year old kid cooked this up, the Creative Director didn't care much, or was sick with the flu, and the client clearly has no opinion, or idea. Oh well, the client makes tires, of course. Why is this so awful? The whole story has absolutely nothing to do with tires. The main element of the story is not centered around tires, but around someone hitting the 'reply all' button, now trying to fix his mistake. Besides the fact that this is just ridiculous, and more than stupid, the transfer to the benefit of Bridgestone tires is just way too far removed from reality.

February 27, 2011

Superbowl 2011: Five more mediocre ones


I originally wanted to put this one into the 'Good' category, because the initial idea is great. It is 100% Mercedes-Benz. The one thing that pulls it down though is Diddy's appearance. It is completely unnecessary. It doesn't add anything. Unless they wanted to target the African-American community this way. It's just that just when you think the thing is over, Diddy appears again, and pulls the whole commercial into the 'funny-zone'. It's unnecessary, and just stupid. And not funny at all.


I seriously don't know what to say about this one. I am at a loss for words. I know the Brits have tons of ridiculous TV shows, even worse than American television, but taking that as a foundation to build your commercial around? I don't get it.


We have seen this one in a million iterations already from Capitol One. At three million dollars for thirty seconds, they could have more of an effort to delight us.


I can't help but think of Apple's iconic '1984' commercial. It also ran during the Superbowl. In 1984. The story here is somewhat similar. Except that the Motorola Xoom is a late-comer to the tablet market. They are 'me-too-product', one of many these days. There is nothing impressive about it. Nothing groundbreaking. If you run a commercial with this kind of message, you better deliver something amazing, because the bar is set high. Otherwise, you are just a copy. With your commercial. And your product.


How many 5-Dollar footlongs does it take to pay for a Superbowl commercial? Three million, divided by 5, makes 600,000 sandwiches in revenue. And this equation was about the only exciting thing about this commercial.

February 26, 2011

Superbowl 2011: Five mediocre ones

The next five Superbowl commercials are all just mediocre, average, and will soon be forgotten. Granted, all these brands were there, at the big event, but they didn't capitalize on the opportunity they had.


There is nothing wrong with this one. But there is nothing really outstanding either. I'm pretty sure they had a better idea on the shelf.


Why senior citizens? Seriously? Why? Because your target age group thinks this is funny? Taking the 'misunderstanding' theme, and building the commercial around it? When Hyundai introduced its brand for the first time, they built their entire campaign around it, and made it so big, you couldn't escape. But Chevy? We all know what a Chevy is. So why?


This is an honest, good commercial, with a nice story. The only thing that doesn't make sens though is the message in the end: Designed in America. Built in America. Is that why we buy BMW? No, it's not. We buy a beamer, because we know the Germans make awesome cars. Repeat: the Germans make awesome cars.


I am probably acting against the mainstream here, but I think these Doritos commercials, all of them, are very mediocre, some of them actually very bad, and very dumb. I don't get them, but that might just be me. Licking some other guy's finger? Sniffing on his pants? That's gross, and very disgusting.


This is, well, just mediocre. It's solid, but not Superbowl-worthy. We have seen better ones from Snickers. Like the one with the divas in the car. That one was awesome.

February 23, 2011

Superbowl 2011: No. 6 - 10

Yesterdays review of the top 5 spots represents the best and most outstanding work in my opinion. You are free to disagree, of course. I try to look at all of these commercials through the lens of a judge who has a balanced score card in front of him, judging not only creativity, and entertainment value, but also business relevance, and use of media buy (meaning: did they really utilize the $3 million spent to the max?).

Following are places 10 to 6. None of these is outstanding, and while 1 - 5 were delivering above and beyond, these five are all on par, and pretty solid tv commercials.


Another one from the category I would normally criticize for not making use of a voice over. The story is nice though, a bit far fetched maybe. But it works. The benefit transfer to the tires makes sense. Perhaps the whole thing is a bit too cute for guys. I just wish they hadn't made the beaver act so human, but had put it in a more realistic scenario.


No Superbowl without Bud or Bud Light, of course. We already expect them to outperform themselves at this event year after year. While they have certainly done better in the past, this story here is pretty damn solid. It is culturally relevant, picking up the theme of endless makeover shows on television, and putting a nice twist on them. The story is completely on brand with the Bud Light brand proposition. It is consistent and in line with previous work. It's perfect for Bud Light. Unfortunately it doesn't make the beer substance they are selling any better.


Don't be fooled by the low number of views on YouTube. This is one of the best car commercials I have seen in the last twelve months. While they could have spent a bit more money on a better filming technique (it looks kind of cheap, video-ish), the story, the strategy - everything is brilliant in this commercial. No aliens, no monsters, no car chases or out-of-this world scenarios. No, none of that nonsense. But a REAL benefit I am taking home with me instead. Here is a company that shows us how rigid their tests are, and how brutal the circumstances. "If your winters are tougher than this, you don't need a new car. You need a new place to live." Wow. This must be a pretty damn good (and tough) car. Seriously.


Try putting a positive spin on an old, outdated, and anachronistic approach to building a car, a muscle car for that matter. Here is one, a great one! I just wish Dodge would have spent the dollars that went into product development for this baby on an environmentally friendly hybrid-solar-wind power vehicle or the like. But this is guy's car. A man's car actually. This is what HE is drooling over, while having to buy the minivan with his wife pregnant and the child on its way. Damn, this might only give you 15 miles to the gallon, but boy, how would I love to drive one of these...


I have been on the fence with this one. I have never really been a fan of the 'behind-the-scenes' approach, unless it is for fans, or people who actually care. You want to see the show, not necessarily look behind the curtain (unless you really, really want to, of course). The way this has been executed though is top. It is clear what it's for, right from the beginning. It's fun. It's entertaining. It's unpredictable. It works.

February 22, 2011

Superbowl 2011: The Top 5


Even though words are completely absent here, and I often criticize ad makers for that, this is just a wonderful story. Captivating. Intriguing. Well filmed, in an epic way. Could almost be the trailer to a big-time motion picture. The actors are brilliant. The story has a nice rhythm. Detail in every scene. Wonderful! 


Superbowl. A man's sport. Monday Night Football "mascot" Faith Hill. Valentine's Day around the corner. Then this line: “Because my heart told me to.” Fantastic! On all levels. Would love to see the web analytics for teleflora and the extra business this has brought to the site. And girls, please don't get mad for the macho approach here. If this got your guy to buy you a nice bunch of roses through their site, it's all that matters, isn't it?


What at first looked like a homemade, cheaply done VHS video has a nice twist. Works both for guys and girls. We've all been in this situation. And to be honest, that's what she thinks. That's what he thinks. Don't kid yourself. This is very well done. Perfect for Pepsi. Hope they can keep it up, and this wasn't just a one hit wonder.


In many commercials, a very long intro too often tells us a story that has absolutely no relevance to the actual product. This one here though is brilliant. It's been reviewed a million times already. Seems VW scored a big hit: It is cute. It has a dramatic build up. It is well executed. Bravo!


Previously reviewed. May have only run locally on the East Coast. Still my favorite to this day.

February 9, 2011

Worst Superbowl Commercial: Kia Optima's Epic Ride

I don't even know where to begin. So let's start with the best part about this sixty second disaster. The only positive that this commercial has created was a comment by user sejokedu on the linked YouTube page who posted: "So basically this is telling us that the best car thieves in the universe are latinos... lol". If anyone is offended by that, my sincerest apologies, but he's right. Because whoever created this baby, got it all wrong.

Let's think for a second:  A car stolen by a cop. The stolen car stolen by a helicopter with a rocket-propelled suction device. On the way to the super yacht “Desire” (I’m gonna throw up by all these sublime details), Poseidon comes out of the water, trying to steal the car. But before he can fully get his hands on it, Aliens abduct the vehicle. Then, just when they think they have it, whoops, a black hole sucks it in, and the Incas/Maysa/Aztecs (?) worship it! 

“One epic ride.” Kia Optima. This is so ueber-f….ing ridiculous. Someone should get fired for this. What a waste of money, time and resources. A clear lack of ideas. This is clearly a vehicle that will never ever, not even in a million light years enjoy any kind of excitement other than being driven from a suburban home to school, to work, to the mall, to soccer practice and back. Zzzzzzz.... boring.

Epic is a pretty big word. If you throw it out there, you better walk the wallk, and not just talk the talk. And this is exactly where Kia fails to deliver. The idea just does not match up with the car.

If, on the other hand, Kia had invented a car like the DeLorean from Back to the Future, equipped with a flux capacitator that runs on either vegetables and leftovers or who knows what else, while having a zero % carbon footprint, and while earning 100 miles per gallon, and, on top of it all, looking like a Shelby Cobra, then - but only then - would a story like this justified. 

But a Kio Optima? Come on! It seems that the smaller and more ugly a car gets, the more outrageous and ridiculous the commercial idea (remember The 'Nissan Juke Joke'? Or the 'Hyundai Elantra Sheep' commercial?)

This was by far the worst commercial of the entire game. Not in terms of creative execution - the CGI was great! But the entire premise of the creative idea is just wrong. And at $100,000 a second, that makes me mad. Really mad.

February 8, 2011

Best Superbowl Ad: Sleepy's & Sealy

This year's Superbowl was pretty disappointing. Both in terms of game quality and excitement as well as in terms of quality and entertainment value of the commercials. The next few days will be dedicated to dissecting all the noise and buzz into the good, the bad and the ugly.

There were a few really, really good ones, lead by the one above, two handful of solid ones that lived up to par. The majority, as so often these days, were just mediocre and will sink into oblivion a few days after. And believe it or not, at a price tag of $3 Million for thirty seconds, there were even some very, very, very bad ones. One was even so awful, it deserves to be shown here. Tomorrow.

Today, we celebrate the only true touchdown this year's biggest sports event has brought to us: Sleepy's  Superbowl commercial featuring Sealy's Posturepedic matress. Why does it deserve this year's MVP award? For a number of reasons:

ONE. It takes a mere three seconds, and you are either watching, or watching and listening spellboundly, asking yourself: I wonder what's next. And you're hoping "please... no letdown here, please..." But they keep you waiting, while you're excitement grows (no pun intended). Just watch these couples and their expressions! Wonderful the acting. Whoever did the casting here - kudos! Then the resolution - the perfect fit!

TWO. The music. Perfectly on brand. In sync with the idea. Nice change of rhythm after about thirteen seconds, keeping the excitement up.

THREE. The subtle animation of "It's better on springs."

FOUR. The copywriting: "Whatever you do in bed, Sealy supports it." No one can feel offended. Hey, perhaps they're smiling because they've watched the latest show of Joel Osteen in bed. I guess we'll never know. Simply brilliant!

I wonder though if this spot was only run in the liberal parts of the country, or if the people in Utah got to see it as well. Does HBO broadcast 'Big Love' in Utah?

Tomorrow's review: this year's worst superbowl commercial. Just thinking of it makes me want to punch the wall.

February 4, 2011

Old school: How to promote an ancient technology

The guys at Vice Magazine are known for their off-beat, irreverent approach to the publishing business. That's what has made them successful. It's who they are. It's who they will be. So when I grab a copy, I always expect to see something different than in the regular high-polished, politically correct magazines. Not just in terms of editorial content, but the advertisements as well.

The one above totally did it for me. It stopped me, it made me smile. And I'm pretty damn sure it works. Why? Well, for a number of reasons:

ONE. Whoever created this knows very well that vinyl is an ancient technology, a dinosaur. There is just no way you can convince anyone in this day and age that there is even one technological benefit in a record. So they don't even try to. Not even by selling the romantic aspect of lifting the lever and gently putting it onto the record, the crackling in the speakers etc.p.p. So they took a somewhat ridiculous approach.

TWO. This approach is actually quite funny. Yes, it's true, but it's kind of stupid at the same time. Which means it's perfect for the culture it promotes, and the medium it advertises in. I bet a hundred bucks that the percentage of Vice readers who still own a record player is significantly higher than GQ or Details or any other.

THREE. The way it's written, that little copy blurb at the bottom, doesn't take itself too seriously.

"This mathematical observation is brought to you by the volcom entertainment vinyl club - reminding you to support your local record shop."

It almost comes across as a public service announcement, promoting a good cause. Which it is.

So don't throw out your record player just yet. Your next date, or - a few  years down the road - your children or grand children will think you're the coolest person on the planet when you put on that vinyl disk.

Related links:
Vice Magazine online
Vice on facebook

February 3, 2011

Terribly bad: Hyundai Elantra's Sheep Commercial

How on earth did this commercial pass multiple levels of approvals? There are so many things fundamentally wrong with this concept - it makes me really really mad! Here are five reasons why:

ONE. "If you're not driving a Hyundai Elantra, you are dumb as sheep." Are you f...ing serious? That is the message you are sending out there to the world? Because that's what I'm getting out of this. Oh my... whoever cooked up this awful mess either wasn't thinking, had no one to straighten them out, or is just very bad at their profession. I get the thinking behind it. The shot just went off into the wrong direction.

TWO. If the guys from TOP GEAR were to draw an anology like this, while testing an extraordinary, and outrageously expensive sportscar, then it would be funny. It would work. As a joke. And we would take it as such. But a serious automaker, introducing a very, very boring, cheap, and extremely ugly car?! WTF?! I cannot comprehend the stupidity that is at play here.

THREE. The creative execution is just awful. The flashing words, the quick cuts. The shaky camera movements... I can think of a bunch of other brands that this style of filming would be more suitable for, instead of a serious auto maker.  All this actually makes me quite nauseous, the way my brain processes the information.

FOUR. The first 22 seconds are 50% wasted media space, as there simply is no audio message except for the ridiculous sound. Whoever checks their phone, has the TV running in the background, or simply does anything else but stare at the TV, simply doesn't get the message. Does anyone care here at all?

FIVE. There is a complete disconnect between the message the first 22 seconds send us (Other car makers make boring cars. Hyundai makes awesome cars.) and the second message the last 8 seconds send us - "Stop setting for predictable. The 40mpg Elantra." What? What does one have to do with the other? What makes the Elantra unpredictable? Why don't they tell us? Instead they spend 75% of the time NOT showing us the car. What a waste of time and dollars!

An they really want to run this during the Superbowl? I don't get it. Someone please explain this to me.

February 2, 2011

Iconic: Dos Equis' Most interesting man in the World

Every once in a while, there comes a big idea that stands out. It sits on a clearly defined strategic platform that allows for years and years of unique creative executions. Dos Equis has accomplished just that. Its 'Most interesting man in the world' has the right amount of humor mixed with a relevant sales message. It's memorable. And most importantly, it works. It builds brand equity. It moves product.

I can't say how, but this man got me to start ordering Dos Equis again after ignoring it for years and years. Not that it's a unique beer with great taste. Quite the opposite actually. It sits right there with all the below average concoctions that need a strong branding approach and plenty of marketing support to leave the shelves (did anyone say Budweiser?). But there is something in this message that is real.

It starts with the aspirational brand image Euro RSCG has put together. Clearly, this man is not real, but somehow we all wish he was. His demeanor. The way he carries himself. The fact that he is around 60yrs old makes it even more intriguing. He's not this twenty-something metrosexual model-type. He's not a young kid without life experience. He is the guy you wish you met in a bar, even if it just were for a few minutes. He's got that special something around him that makes both men and women gravitate towards him.

"The police often question him just because they find him interesting." Hilarious!

"Some say that he found the Fountain of Youth but didn't drink because he wasn't thirsty." Fantastic!

"He doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis." Brilliant!

Let's deconstruct this sentence for a moment. This is neither a binge-drinking teenage kid nor a pre-game tailgating drunkster - "I don't always drink beer" - and it leaves enough room for interpretation: a) he drinks other things as well, or b) he only drinks occasionally. "But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." It sends us another message. He has an open mind. He tries new things. He simply prefers Dos Equis. They don't tell us why. There obviously doesn't seem to be a product benefit here. But who cares? He's the most interesting man in the world. Wouldn't you want to meet him? I would. And I would drink Dos Equis with him.

Related link:
The Most Interesting Man in the World on Facebook


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