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Super bowl XLIV commercials, what went wrong this year?

Ok, I've come down from my sugar-high caused by way too many soda pops and candy bars that kept me chugging through, staying awake from Sunday morning to late Monday night. It's not a good state to watch and try to judge the ads in, so I'd like to thank a whole bunch of people too numerous to mention, among them DDB, TBWA, FLO TV rep Edelman, Teleflora, Lynch Communications and Medialink Worldwide for sending their ads in early to help the process along here. Y'all rock and you know it. The 2010 super bowl XLIV commercials in the collection.

I always come down pretty hard, blaming my negative reactions to lack of sleep, but overall I think this bowl was sub-par. So sub-par I almost instated a "roll-eye rating" for each ad, that's how often I caught myself rolling my eyes.

Now that I have caught some shuteye, I figured out what really bugged me with the ads. The See more online. What is this, the "AOL keyword" of the tens? Why are you telling me to see more online when you have my attention on TV? In the future, I'm sure we'll be able to click links in TV-ads, but we're not quite there yet, so hows about you TV advertisers use the TV-medium to tell us what is it you want us to know? Vizio seems busy putting the internet on TV so I guess I can see more online, on my TV soon.

Examples. Tim Tebow and his well manicured mom Pam Tebow made an appearance for Focus on Family. Pam shares her story of constantly worrying about little Timmy, and then he tackles her, because we're watching football so ads need to remind us about this every chance they get. The ad ends with the super: Full the full Tebow story go to FocusOnTheFamily.com. Nobody needed to do this though, as the pre-bowl hype around CBS allowing this ad to appear made everyone in the world aware that Pam declined an abortion on Tim, despite having just been awoken from a coma herself as she had suffered a life-threatening infection from a pathogenic amoeba. The pre-bowl hype around this ad got more press than the ad was worth, they got the buzz they wanted, and that is why some people are willing to shill out 3million dollars for 30 seconds.

Then there's The Godaddy crud. Why is it that we see so many in house agencies do work for the Super Bowl? There's good in-house, and then there's terrible in-house - Gap had a great run in the 90s, H&M are doing very well on their own, but then Godaddy comes along and makes me shake my head so hard it almost falls off. Their tried and true trick which they have employed in the past five super bowls is to almost strip Danicka Patrick, then ask people to log on to Godaddy for the rest. I have never once bothered. This years Godaddy news strip was the same old, and it's so bad I can't be bothered embedding it. Click at your own risk. "See more online", ah no, I'm going to get another drink and wait for the game to start again, thanks.

Home Away basically advertised that their ad was on youtube. What the hell?

The ones who tried something new and interesting online, now that toys like iPhones and internet are within reach for everyman, were Dockers. "Shazam this man, their ad declared and as pantless men wandered about singing Wear No Pants" by The Poxy Boggard. If you did Shazam them, you were taken to a specially branded content page and could score free pants. It's the first ad to be Shazam tagged during the superbowl, in fact Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher says it's the first ad to use Shazam like that, but it won't be the last: "We see an application of our technology as a direct-response medium"

Then there's the gender war, my god what was with the gender war in this years bowl? Take Dodge Charger as an example. Poor man shouldn't have a dog, if he doesn't want to stay healthy he can skip the fruit for breakfast, but he also takes our call, carries her lip balm and watches TV shows about vampires he doesn't like. Those who think this was all about girlfriends missed that the smooth VO (nice choice of voice by the way), also sits through two hour meetings, and clearly hates doing anything that society dictates, like recycling and shaving. In the end this is just an updated take on the old "your car is your castle" theme that thousands of ads have been produced on before. Except with a lot less car showing, but hearing the engine it does sound like it screams "freedom!". There's a lot of things in the rant which are clearly directed at nagging girlfriends/wives, W+K should have added annoyances outside of the bedroom to avoid the sexism label slapped on this ad by the majority of viewers. Like "I will not fart in elevators", "I will tip the barista", "I will obey urinal booth space laws and pick the one not next to you". Rebels don't care about any of this.

In the Bridgestone ad people yelled "sexism" again, but the real crime here is that pun. "Wife/Life". It should have ended there.

In FLO TV "Injury report" we learned that a man who goes shopping with his significant other is spineless. That's nice, kids. May you never get laid. Men hate shopping meme has been done to death in super bowl ads before though.

In 1995, guys hated shopping so much they had their own shopping anonymous corner of the store. It didn't matter that the girlfriend was played by a young Keri Russell, men don't like to shop.

In 1998, Sean Hayes wo played "Just Jack" Jack McFarland on Will & Grace was shopping game day as well. He wasn't spineless though, and a bunch of other guys drinking Bud in the petites saved his day.

In Bud Light Book Club, beer and the possibility of getting laid by anything including "little women" is the only thing on Man-stereotypes mind.

Gay inclusion! The only time we saw anything including gay men this year was in Motorola Bath tub. Megan Fox is so hot even gay guys slap each other for looking at her nudie pictures. We've done a clear step back from Carson Kressley in the Pepsi ad super bowl 2005, when gay men were allowed to check out other men.

I've watched enough super bowl ads to know that the stereotypes of soccer-moms, doofus-dad, sexy white chick (notice that she is never black and rarely is she a brunette), and purse-carrying boyfriend come out in full swing during the game, but I'm still disappointed when ideas that should have stayed in the reject-bin make it to air. This year it seems that everyone noticed the strange misogynistic leaning of the ads collective impression. Jezebel collected quotes from critics who though this year was misogynistic and boring overall. It's time for the advertisers to evolve along with the audience.

What really puzzles me is, why would CBS reject an ad for a gay dating service and then include a bunch of ads depicting how much men hate being around women. It seems the prime time for a gay dating service ad to air, in hindsight.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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xcreativity's picture

Really good overview!

Dabitch's picture

Thanks. Kinda long but I get like that talking about super bowl ads. ;)

michael_marks's picture

"What really puzzles me is, why would CBS reject an ad for a gay dating service and then include a bunch of ads depicting how much men hate being around women."

Clever phase, but are you really confused?

Many Americans are homophobic, and the absolute rejection of anything gay is what allows many men to feel secure in male bonding activities. Being strongly anti-gay ensures they won't accused of being gay.

On a simpler level, saying that men are dogs isn't going to rile up an American audience. That's accepted. Running a advertisement for a gay dating site would have every media bobblehead talking the next morning. Gay isn't accept by a large number of Americans.

Gay is a divisive topic in current American culture. So is environmentalism (going green), I believe that's part of the reason the Audi ad failed with the green police.

Dabitch's picture

I'm being sarcastic. I realize that "Don't ask. Don't tell. Don't sell to" is the major networks policy.

The audi ad reaction shocked me though, I like it, I love the ridiculous and the over the top helicopter-cops ordering a man to let go of the rinds "that's compost" had me giggling. The white car (white horse) was the sleek way of having something cool to drive while at the same time doing something green, presumably to be able to make Green Nazi-type STFU.
But people on twitter said the ad felt "douche-baggy". If that ad was douchebaggy, then what is driving a Hummer?

michael_marks's picture

Grist has a more articulate response than I can put together on the Audi ad: http://www.grist.org/article/2010-02-08-the-unheralded-significance-of-t...

I think the ad appeals to a minority of the audience and annoys the majority of the audience. Plenty of audience isn't green and gets spitting mad on topic of green laws, etc etc. Since I'm for 'going green', while parts might be funny, disappointed it riles up the other side and doesn't help the cause. So for me, comes across douchebaggy.

Neo's picture

The clean Diesel ad was satire, perhaps too clever by half for the audience but it succeeded in one thing: greenwashing. We're talking about a diesel car here, not some electric hybrid.

Robbotman's picture

Interesting that it takes a "raging feminist" like you to figure out that the Dodge ad isn't about hating women but not wanting to conform/grow up. What bothered me about that ad was it made them sound like bitter little men, crushed under the heels of everything expected of them. It was like an invitation to a road rage club for dysfunctional dudes.

Dabitch's picture

A raging feminist? I'm not sure that I'm fulfilling the raging bit, do I have to tear my shirt off in anger, break things and yell AAAARRRHHHH a lot?

Neo's picture

The ads this year were A) Bland B) Emasculating C) Misogynistic D) All of the above.