This Super Bowl season proved interesting for companies looking for heavy exposure with their ads. Ad sales started off slow in 2009, but last week CBS said that it had sold all available slots. However, several news outlets also reported later that week that CBS’s Standards and Practices Department had turned down an ad from Mancrunch.com, a gay dating site. Given the number of promos CBS aired for its primetime line-up, I personally wonder if the decision was made to sell less airtime than previous years in order to capture a new audience for its flailing television shows.
Despite the drama (and there’s always drama!) leading up to Super Bowl Commercial Sunday, there are some great stories in this year’s class of ads. I’ve created lists of the worst, better, and best 2010 Super Bowl ads, and I’m curious to know who agrees with me and who has an entirely different list!
5 Worst Super Bowl Commercials
5) Dr. Pepper – Audiences expect something new and fresh in Super Bowl ads – especially from powerhouse brands with big advertising budgets. Adding Mini Kiss to the same Kiss/”Dr. Love” spot is neither.
4) Carmax - While they probably had the smallest ad budget of any company on my list, it was disappointing to see them resort to using the tired “Dramatic Hamster” meme. Dramatic hamster is so 2008, and this commercial is so forgetable.
3) All E*Trade Commercials – E*Trade baby #1 was cute. Baby #2 is not. Also, the original campaign concept worked partly because of the grainy web-cam look, but it’s been traded in for a clearer picture. They may have changed up the commercials some, but E*Trade needs to give us a new campaign stat before that baby starts to stink.
2) Dockers - If you remember the Dockers commercial, you’re one step ahead of everyone else. Men walking and singing in a field about not wearing pants. Still not ringing any bells? That’s not a surprise – the commercial had nothing to say. The pitch at the end (something about free pants) seemed more like an afterthought than a call to action. $2.5 million is a lot to spend to not say anything!
1) GoDaddy.com – I don’t think I have to elaborate much here. Ridiculous looking women who can’t act and apparently strip for no reason? And this sells me SSL certifications how?
Also on the Worst List: Denny’s, IBM, Taco Bell, Coke “Sleepwalking,” Budlight “Lost”, KGB, Bridgestone, Sonic, Michelob Ultra, Motorola, Sonic, CSI promos
5 Better Super Bowl Commercials
5) Emerald Nuts & Pop Secret - This spot was weird in a good way. Emerald Nuts’ past campaigns have been a bit out there (like their 2009 Super Bowl ads) so this spot fits with the image the company has already created. Although it’s not likely that their “awesome + awesome = awesomer” line will take off, it definitely got some laughs at our watch party.
4) Careerbuilder.com – Careerbuilder capitalized on that feeling we’ve all had before at work – the feeling that you’re the only sane one in the place. Their commercial used a sort of reality-show style in the vein of “The Office” to emphasize that the website would help you find a workplace that fits your personality. And seeing a grown man ostracized for wearing pants to work is funny.
3) Dave Letterman Promo – Dave is on this list because he got Leno AND Oprah on the couch with him. I like seeing proof that Leno and Letterman buried the hatchet but can still joke around. He didn’t have to do a spot, but he did and it was funny.
2) Cars.com – Cars.com was one of the only companies to use a solid storytelling approach this year. The story of the boy genius was interesting and made me wonder where the genius would falter. The moral of the story is that smart people use Cars.com to research and purchase a new vehicle. The boy genius’s story may not have anything to do with cars, but at least the commercial shows that car dealerships and the like don’t have to rely on the same tired approaches in advertising.
1) Audi “Green Police” – Simultaneously good and scary, the “Green Police” spot was nonetheless effective. This spot educated the public about green living before sharing that the Audi A3 TDI was the Green Car of the year. However, it made some of my Twitter friends uncomfortable with the thought that green lifestyles could be mandated and incandescent lightbulbs outlawed. Either way, the spot was memorable and will no doubt end up on several “favorites” lists.
Also on the Better List: Budlight “Human Bridge” & “Beer House,” Monster.com, Homeaway.com, Vizio, Volkswagon, almost every Hyundai spot
5 Best Super Bowl Commercials
5) Budweiser Clydesdales – Remember, this is my list, so the Clydesdales get a spot. For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen a Budweiser Clydesdale commercial during the Super Bowl. I had given up on seeing one this year, thinking that Budweiser had finally ended the Clydesdale campaign. Bud saved it for the very end though, so I felt relieved when the commercial aired. Plus, I like the message that “Nothing comes between friends. Especially fences.”
4) Coke “Simpsons” – Coke doesn’t have to do a lot of heavy, direct advertising because they’re way ahead in the market. The Simpsons spot was nostalgic and feel-good, which is also reminiscent of the Coke brand. I personally appreciate a softer advertising approach, and of course seeing my favorite Simpsons characters represented in a positive way.
3) Dodge Charger – This spot was not a typical car commercial. It was definitely targeted at men, but it was funny to both genders. I also put this commercial up on the list for the chatter it was creating on Twitter, which is good news for Dodge.
2) Google – I absolutely adored this commercial. It was executed so well, and really showed how much our Internet searches can say about where we are in life and where we’re going. It was simple, sentimental, and effective. Definitely advertising dollars well spent for Google.
1) Doritos “House Rules” – “Hands off my Momma, and Hands off my Doritos! Now put it back!” – this phrase will be repeated many times over the next couple of weeks. The situation and the little boy in this ad are so believable, and the kid really sells the line while being absolutely adorable at the same time. I went searching for more info on this campaign and found out that this commercial (and 3 others in the campaign) were created by consumers as part of a competition. This particular ad was made by an independent filmmaker in California for a whopping $80. Doritos hit it out of the park with their Super Bowl ads this year, and it’s all thanks to consumer-created advertising. Advertisers had better pay attention!
Also on the Best List: Every other Doritos commercial, Budlight “T-Pain,” FloTV, Teleflora, Hyundai w/Brett Favre
*Edited to add commercial links.