Monday, February 7, 2011

The Big (Ad) Game

There's joy in Cheeseland this morning thanks to the Packers' win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. I only wish there were as much joy in Adland.

What turned out to be a great football game that kept its viewership in front of the set right up until the final seconds didn't deliver the same kind of thrills during the commercials breaks. Sure, there were some high points. But there were very few standouts and some major thuds.

Some overall comments and then on to my favorite spot from the night.

Apparently, it's not the Super Bowl unless...
  • We see women dressed in tight black tank tops hawking domain names
  • Someone gets hit in the groin
  • The joke is completely irrelevant to the product being advertised
  • An animal takes revenge on a stupid, cruel human
  • Some advertiser thinks spectacular special effects will fool people into thinking their product isn't incredibly ordinary
  • We see Ozzy
  • We're subjected to a dizzying array of movie trailers
  • At least four advertisers cross pretty well defined lines (for the record there's nothing funny about shaken baby syndrome, people who have been oppressed for years by a totalitarian neighbor, "Cram it in the Boot," and Roseanne)
  • Sexual double-entendres rule the day
As bad as most of the spots were (I'm looking at you Crispin and Goodby) there was one bright spot, and if you've been reading this blog you'll know that no one is more surprised than I am about its origin. 

Chrysler scored big with its two-minute epic for the 200.

Unlike most "Detroit" spots that apologize for the city's past, this one embraces it and uses it to make its point. The cinematography exquisitely captures not just the decay, but also the incredible beauty, art and passion that can be found in the Motor City. The message is simple, clear and compelling. The copy is evocative without being overwrought. The car actually looks good. And the celebrity cameo is relevant. 

If a the purpose of advertising is to make people sit up and take notice, to reevaluate one's perception of a brand, then this one did more for its sponsor than all the disjointed Chevy spots, Audi's inexplicably inane luxury prison break and Ford's gimmicky Focus Rally, combined.

Nicely done Chrysler. Well played Wieden. Lets hope this is the start of a new and more interesting chapter for the brand.

Honorable Mentions
The best of the rest? 

VW's "The Force" featuring a mini Darth Vader was funny, but the 60 second version is much, much better. 
Carmax "Gas Station" was a nice demonstration of customer service as a differentiator.
Bridgestone's "Beaver" spot was a nice twist on an old story.
And finally, Fox's promo department nailed it with this spot.


  1. Loved the Chrylser 200 spot. Well done on every level.

  2. Nice post Harvey.
    I was moved by the Chrysler Spot, and even commented that I would have to look at Chrysler when I need a new car.