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Super Bowl Commercials: Analyzed

This will be an analysis of the commercials as they air during Super Bowl XLV…

The first ad I saw this year was the Doritos spot when the people like to eat the crumbs. This tries to be funny, but doesn’t really do it. And it kinda creeped me out a little.

Great ads happen during the Super Bowl. This year I'm going to watch them as they're shown during the game. These are my initial reactions. Share your reactions!

The Chevy Cruz spot with the old folks was trying to be funny, but wasn’t. It reminded me of those old-time ads when the writers tried to repeat the name of the brand 12 times in 30 seconds.

Bud Light came in with a great spot with the product-placement movie scene. Not the greatest Bud ad ever, but a good story that connected nicely with the brand.

It’s always good to connect with culture. Chevy Truck created a great spot with a spot that connects with Lassie. The truck is the hero that helps in many different situations like when a little boy falls down a well. Bravo, Chevy!

So far there have been two Pepsi Max spots. Both try to be funny, but the aren’t really nailing it.

Doritos is running a lot of spots so far in the game. They did a great job with the commercial in which a guy uses Doritos to bring things back to life. It ends with a grandfather coming back to life – really funny. I’m not sure what it strategically says about Doritos (they add life to anything?), but it’s a funny spot.

Kia produced a great epic commercial for Optima. It was a big production in a 60 second spot to make a big splash. It’s a great way to position Optima as a car to be proud of. Nice job, Kia.

Brisk ran an animated spot with Eminem. the animation was cool, but the story and the message were weak.

Everyone fears sending an email as “reply all” when you’re intending to send the note to only one person. Bridgestone creates a great ad that connects with this phenomenon. the brand fits nicely into the story. Bravo!

Chevy Volt ran a spot around the theme of “great moments in history,” and they presented the introduction of the Volt as a great moment. They presented the story very well. Great spot.

Go Daddy’s commercials have always been focused on sex. They have been predictable, and they have been getting old. This year Go Daddy made fun of themselves by casting Joan Rivers as the newest Go Daddy girl. Unexpected, and it shows that Go Daddy has a personality (other than that of a sex-craved 16-year-old boy). Bravo Go Daddy.

Bud nailed it with the Tiny Dancer spot. It was a huge production, it was funny, and it had talk value. I’d already like to see that one again.

Teleflora had the recipe for a good Super Bowl commercial. They cast Faith Hill. They made it unexpected. They went for funny. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well written, it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t good.

The Transformers (the movie) spot was a wonderful huge production. I’d like to see that movie just for the production values.

BMW presented an epic-type story around their plant in Spartansburg, SC. BMW needs to watch the earlier spots from Kia Optima and Chevy Volt. It’s not often that BMW is schooled by the likes of Chevy and Kia, but tonight it happened.

Motorola did a great job of positioning Xoom against the iPad (from Apple). This spot was similar to the great 1984 Apple spot which positioned little Apple against the huge IBM. Great job, Xoom.

The diesel BMW spot redeemed the brand from the weak ad earlier in the game. The diesel commercial reminded me of the award-winning “Hate Something” ad from Honda (aired only in Europe).

Coke is expected to do great things during the Super Bowl, and they lived up to their reputation. The huge epic animated spot was fantastic. Right on target strategically (it really hit on the essence of the brand). Bravo, Coke!

A little boy dressed up like Darth Vader is a funny idea by itself. VW used this set up as the baseline for a cute story for their Passat. I can se moms all over the country wanting to drive a Passat based on this nice spot.

Snicker dusted off their successful concept from years past:  “You not yourself when you’re hungry.”  I still love watching those old spots with Betty White, Liza Manelli, and Aretha Franklin, et al. And this year’s story was equally as funny. Selfishly, I’d like to see a new concept or a more-fresh spin on the old idea. But, this was good.

CareerBuilder.com has made some smart (and funny) spots in previous years. This year they used the monkeys again, but gave it a totally fresh spin. Not as funny, but it carried a strong message.

Chevy Cruze makes it easy to update your Facebook status from your car. This spot starts off as an interesting story. Unfortunately when the writers forced the brand into the story, they screwed it up. Lame-o.

For the last few years, Carmax has had very weak TV spots. I think most of them (if not all of them) have been made inhouse. Carmax has a relationship with a new agency (I think it’s Gotham), and the fresh thinking is really good. Carmax finally has a commercial worth running on TV… and this one is worth running no the Super Bowl. Good job.

The second half began with a rarity:  a commercial from Mini Cooper. And it was real nice. Mini was showing the storage space of the trunk (or boot) of the Mini Wagon. The fake TV game show called “Cram It In The Boot” is real funny. An dit does a great job of showing the audience that the Mini Wagon has a big boot (or trunk).

During the first half of the game, CarMax presented a fresh, smart spot. Something happened in the locker room for CarMax. This spot, focused on customer service, is lame, not funny, and lame (repetition intended).

Eminem appeared in the first half in an animated spot for Brisk Tea. He appears in this year’s Super Bowl again – this time for Chrysler. In this long-format spot, Chrysler does a fantastic job of making the brand relevant again. The spot does something that hasn’t happened in years (or even decades). It makes Detroit look cool. Bravo, Chrysler!

Pepsi Max began the fourth quarter with another fairly weak spot. It used sex to try to make the commercial funny, but it was just an indifferent ad. In the Super Bowl, I expect more from Pepsi.

Bridgestone presented a cute story with a beaver. The commercial didn’t seem to really highlight the brand as much as the cool beaver.

In the first half, CarMax presented a good commercial, and they presented a dud in the second half of the game. Go Daddy did the same thing. The second-half spot reverted to the silly sexual titillation of previous years. Weak.

VW used the adventure of an insect to captivate and to maintain the audience’s attention during this new spot where a bug is running around everywhere. The commercial is a teaser to introduce a new model of the VW Beetle. I don’t agree with the strategy of not showing the new car in the spot. Since the Super Bowl is the biggest stage, it seems like the Super Bowl is the best place to debut the car. Maybe they have something bigger planned. I hope so.

A fun and interesting story is used to present Chevy Camero. The often-used idea of an ad inside an ad is a bad idea, but this time it was fresh. There were great images of the car. The story had many fresh turns throughout the spot. And the ending was unexpected and good. Bravo!

The Fox TV show called House had a couple of great spots during the Super Bowl. They recreated the famous Mean Joe Green Coke commercial from the 1979 Super Bowl. It was funny, smart, and right on the House brand.

Whew!  The packers just won. I can finally visit the rest room!

Because of Super Bowl parties, I have not been able to watch the commercials during the Super Bowl for the last few years. There were no parties for me this year, so I planned to watch the commercials and to comment on them as they were run. To ensure fresh eyes on the spots, I made an effort to not see the spots before the game. This year there seemed to be a lot of Super Bowl ads released (either online or on TV) before the big game.

Side note:  This evening was also my father-in-law’s birthday dinner. We planned to eat and get home before the game, but it didn’t work out that well. I missed the first few minutes of the game. Maybe next year I can see all of the ads.

What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial?  To see all of the great spots, visit AdAge.com.