Super Bowl ads: The good, the bad, the wasted money

The Super Bowl has been dubbed the biggest sporting event in America. With an average audience of over 100 million, it’s no surprise that it has become such a huge vehicle for brands to reach consumers. As friend and co-worker (and Spirit of Imaginuity recipient) Nathan Vaughn put it, “They have the most captive audience they will ever get.”

And at an average cost of $4 million just for 30 seconds of air time, one should expect to be impressed. I for one was not very impressed this year. While there were still a few gems, let’s face it. The 2013 overall lineup of commercials was very pedestrian.

Several were down right awful (I’m looking at you, GoDaddy.com).
It seems to me that there is a better way to spend $4 million than to advertise a commodity (milk).
Even the somewhat iconic E*Trade baby mailed it in this year with a stack of Photoshop-altered images making up the bulk of the spot.
Scroll down to check out my Top 5, then stick around for the analysis, and my challenge to you.

My No. 5: “Asking Amy” for Best Buy

A good use of a celebrity in her element. I also like that amongst the humor, there are enough questions that each of us can identify one that we’ve asked in our ongoing inner monologues at some point in time.

My No. 4: “Love Ballad” for M&M’s

What can I say; I’m a sucker for inanimate objects that talk.

My No. 3: “Space Babies” for Kia

Having the vehicle bail out the Dad when his answer is questioned is a unique twist on an inevitable situation for any parent.

My No. 2: “Whisper Fight” for Oreo

I like that this one sparks an instant dialog among viewers centering on the cookie vs. cream debate. A great way to engage the public AND put product attributes front and center.

My No. 1: “Unattended Laundry” for Speed Stick

It’s funny because we’ve all found ourselves in an awkward situation a time or two.

Are we trending toward … boring?

Perhaps even more discouraging however, was the lack of audience interaction these big spenders elicited. I counted less than 5 out of about 50 commercials who used a social media vehicle to actively engage with their audience – beyond just slapping a hashtag on the screen.

Nielsen published an interesting review of social media use in 2012 stating, among other interesting stats, that over a quarter of people are more likely to pay attention to an ad posted by a social network friend. If you engage those people who already have positive feelings towards your brand, you increase your chances of reaching those people who have neutral feelings towards your brand … and you do so for free.

With that, bonus points in the top commercials go to Speed Stick and Oreo for audience engagement. The others at least kept the commercial theme consistent across their website and social channels. And of course, and possibly most importantly, they actually made me laugh.

And now, the bad

I don’t want to continue the propagation of these commercials, but you can find them on YouTube AdBlitz with all of the commercials officially aired during the Super Bowl, if you want to relive the pain.

“Perfect Match” for GoDaddy.com: Congrats to nebbishly actor Jesse Heiman for landing a gig and being paid to make out with Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, but I didn’t need to hear and see it close up.
“Get In. Get Happy.” for Volkswagen: At best it is not funny; at worst it is stereotypical and possibly racist.
“Goat 4 Sale” for Doritos: Meh.
“Man vs. Cheetah” for Sketchers GOrun 2: It’s a step up from Kim Kardashian, but not by much.

Am I right, here? Or am I right?

Agree with my finely-honed analysis and critiques? Think I’m way off base? We invite you to join the conversation here in the comments area.

And be sure to share your best and worst list, too, so we can critique each other’s critiques.

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