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Phases 2012 Super Bowl Ad Roundup

February 6th, 2012 by
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Ever since Farrah creamed Broadway Joe Namath in the first “Super Bowl Ad” (as opposed to an ad that runs during the Super Bowl), watching and critiquing the commercials has become just as important as watching the big game.

Because of the massive audience the ads have become incredibly expensive ($3.5 Million for 30 seconds in last night’s Super Bowl XLVI). With all the expense and spectacle, you’d expect the ads to be great across the board. And while the ads tend to be memorable and to generate some heat, they’re not necessarily “good.” Why not?

Here are our thoughts about a few of last night’s ads.

Best Campaign

Budweiser managed to effectively touch all of its potential demographics with memorable, brand appropriate ads that demonstrated

  1. The brand’s longevity with “The Return of the King.”
  2. The brand’s ability to evolve with Bud Light Platinum “Factory.” Bonus points for introducing a new beer during the Super Bowl – genius move! And for making Kandra “almost want to try a Bud.”
  3. Bud’s “good guy,” credentials with the very sweet and effective “Rescue Dog,” ad.

The campaign essentially said everybody drinks Bud. Here’s something for each of you. It’s very, very tough to hit so many different targets effectively without damaging your core brand values, but Budweiser pulled it off.

Runner up: Samsung for memorable, snarky, benefits-focused ads that made a giant phone with a stylus (Hello? 1996? Your Palm Pilot called and wants its pen back.) seem like a slightly less terrible idea. And for reminding us that  “iAnything” does have competition.

Audience Awareness

Despite the fact that the Super Bowl audience is so massive (3 of the 10 most-watched television events ever are Super Bowl games), audience awareness is still perhaps the most important factor in the success or failure of an ad.

  1. The Ferris Bueller-inspired “Matthew’s Day Off” for Honda’s CRV SUV/Minivan was perfectly pitched. Ferris fans are of the age and temperament to buy the product. It was funny, memorable and hit the nostalgia centers of our brains with surgical accuracy.
  2. The Acura “Transaction,” ad with Jerry Seinfeld and that other guy also hit the nostalgia and comedy notes effectively, along with making Acura seem modestly cool, exclusive and inspirational.

Two ads stood out for their epic audience awareness fails.

  1. M&M’s “Just My Shell,” was too racy for a family brand. Bonus demerits for it not being brand appropriate either – M&Ms are innocent and sweet, not sexy and hip.
  2. Audi’s “Vampire Party,” was funny (and the Echo and the Bunnymen soundtrack tickled Travitt’s pleasure center), but didn’t seem to recognize who would buy an Audi – the commercial seemed targeted at late teens and twenty-somethings more likely in the market for a Scion, than their parents who are actually buying and driving Audis. Plus, shouldn’t we just assume the headlights are going to work?

Big Misses


The VW “Dog Strikes Back” ad. The audience seemed to be people who remembered that their ad last year was also Star Wars-centric. This should have been a home run around here (Dogs? Star Wars? Are you kidding?), but instead was just confusing. The trailer for the ad with the dogs barking the Imperial March was light years better. Also, is it weird that there are now trailers for commercials?

And in the final Big Miss, here’s hoping the folks at Dorito’s come to their senses and run with Phases pal Reid Fernlaw’s “Hot Wild Girls,” extravaganza.

Worst Ad/Campaign

Go Daddy. Sexist. Gross. Dumb. We won’t even link it.

About 

Kandra is influenced in her design by everything from Hubble Space Telescope imagery to the strawberry plants in her garden. Her concepts are known for their characteristic combination of warmth, simplicity and functionality, and for their strong resonance with her clients’ brand and corporate identities.

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