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Review of 2010 Super Bowl (XLIV) Television Commercials Pt. 1

A Marketing Review of The 2010 Super Bowl Commercials

Each year, companies spend millions of dollars per minute to promote their goods during the Super Bowl, the single largest annual event in the United States.  Some of these commercials are memorable, others not so much.  While I enjoy the ads for their entertainment value as much as the next guy, typically I’m far more interested in the marketing behind the madness.  Below are my reviews for each of the ads shown during Super Bowl XLIV.

1st Quarter

Product: Bud Light

Summary: A pretty typical Bud Light commercial:  young co-eds having fun with lots of Bud Light; actually a whole house made from cans of the stuff.

Review: The commercial served to embrace Bud Light’s party reputation, but seemed to subtly define the company as anti-environmentally responsible.  Not sure that’s the best message, but I think the commercial was meant more to launch the brand’s new tagline “Here We Go”.

Score: 6/10

Product: Snickers

Summary: Betty White and Abe Vigoda are the stars of this commercial.  A group of friends are out playing football and because they are hungry, are apparently playing like old people.

Review: Another pretty typical commercial, though Betty White has amassed a cult-like following over the last decade or so and really helps this ad stand out from some other recent Snicker spots.  Another new tagline: “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”.  I guess some of these advertisers think it’s good to change their taglines every few months.  I’m not so sure.

Score: 8/10

Product: Focus on the Family

Summary: Tim Tebow’s mom tells the story of how her Heisman Trophy winning son almost wasn’t born.  Son thanks her at the end.

Review: The only commercial this year centered around a political hot topic, this ad got lots of attention pre-Super Bowl.  All in all, had a pretty tame pro-life message starring college football’s most famous player.

Score: 6/10

Product: Hyundai

Summary: Introducing Hyundai’s newest Sonata model and new paint jobs.

Review: The commercial itself is pretty boring, but at least it makes a solid claim and attempts to back it up with visual appeal. In a down economy, it’s very likely that Hyundai can take market share away from Mercedes.  We’ll have to wait and see if their claim of better paint gets people to “Think about it”.

Score: 8/10

Product: Boost Mobile

Summary: Recreates the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl Shuffle, starring members of the team.

Review: Entertaining, especially for those who remember the original version, Boost does a decent job of getting its message across: $50 unlimited talk and text.  Also a good idea to lead viewers to your website, which the spot does fairly obviously at the end.

Score: 8/10

Product: Doritos

Summary: Typical human teases animal, animal gets revenge spot.

Review: This breed of commercial has been played out in recent years, and other than a 1 second chuckle at the end, gets very little for its money. Slightly less funny than the Bud Light spot and equally forgettable.

Score: 6/10

Product: Robin Hood Feature Film

Summary: Trailer for upcoming release of new Robin Hood movie.

Review: Didn’t move me at all.  Considering the competition it will be going up against this summer, doesn’t seem to have a great chance.  Left me wondering where Brian Adams was this time around.

Score: 5/10

Product: Doritos

Summary: Child protects his home turf from mom’s new friend.

Review: Was a crowd favorite at the Super Bowl party I attended and was far superior to the first Doritos commercial. Apparently Doritos’ goal was to get viewer reaction, and for that, I guess it did its job.  Will be one of the longest-remembered spots of this year’s Super Bowl.

Score: 9/10

Product: Bud Light

Summary: World is about to end.  Astronomers spend their last moments enjoying Bud Light.

Review: Yet another typical Bud Light spot.  There’s something to be said for consistency in branding, but when the spots are consistently subpar, it’s probably not the best use of millions of dollars.  At minimum, ad reinforces new tagline and continues Bud Light’s claim to be the drink of choice for the party set.

Score: 7/10

Product: Coca-Cola

Summary: Characters from the Simpsons come to life as Mr. Burns loses his fortune and becomes depressed until of course, he gets his hands on a Coca-Cola.

Review: I knew this was a Coke commercial from the moment it started, so there must be some elements of subtle consistency.  I also thought it was a clever way to tie in the current state of the economy and remind people that there is happiness in the little things.  If Super Bowl ads teach us one thing, it’s that multi-million dollar commercials during the big game are a prime vehicle for unveiling new taglines.  For Coke, it’s “Open Happiness”.

Score: 7/10

Product: Go Daddy

Summary: Typical Go Daddy commercial.

Review: The only good thing about these Go Daddy commercials is that they lead the viewer to the website, but I don’t know anyone who has ever done so, at least not admittedly.  I’m square in their target market and haven’t the slightest inclination to see the supposed racy endings to one of these spots.  If anything, I would think these spots hurt the company overall, but since they keep running them, they must know something I don’t.

Score: 5/10

Product: Doritos

Summary: Man fakes death to watch Super Bowl and eat Doritos in peace.

Review: The onslaught on unwitty Doritos commercials continues.  Obviously Frito-Lay subscribes to the school of quantity over quality.  Slightly better than the first Doritos commercial, not quite as good as the second.  Doing their best to keep chips on your brain during the game, though I’m sure people had already stocked up on chips prior to these commercials airing so I’m not sure how much they gain from these spots.

Score: 7/10

Product: Bud Light

Summary: Weak recreation of the classic “What’s Up” ads.

Review: Auto tune has been a popular trend in music and T-Pain is a popular online figure.  I guess Bud Light felt they could use the issue to recreate one of their past commercial hits, but I think they missed badly.  Another case of quantity over quality.

Score: 7/10

Product: Monster.com

Summary: Violin-playing beaver uses job search provider to find his true calling in life.

Review: I think Monster really missed out on an opportunity to connect with those out of a job right now.  Instead of inspiring those seeking employment to use their new “precision job search”, they chose to use a puppetry with little or no emotional value to drive traffic to their site.  I doubt it will work.

Score: 6/10

Product: Wolfman Feature Film

Summary: Trailer for upcoming release of new Wolfman movie.

Review: Commercials for this film seen throughout the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl were actually far better (and longer).  I guess the goal is just to get the word out to as many people as possible, and I suppose, that was accomplished.

Score: 5/10

Product: Bridgestone Tires

Summary: Cheap (and blatant) knock-off of the Hollywood hit “The Hangover”.

Review: You really could see the punchline coming a mile away.  In my opinion, you do more harm to your brand than good when you so blatantly rip off hot pop culture bits.  They may get some publicity, but at what cost?  I don’t think it’s true any longer that all publicity is good publicity.

Score: 5/10

Product: Skechers

Summary: Promotion of new line of “body shaping” shoes.

Review: About as lame as the Bridgestone commercial but in half the time. I doubt anyone believes Joe Montana is actually using this product.  Poor misuse of a Super Bowl legend, but at least they accomplished their goal of promoting a new product line.

Score: 6/10

Product: Cars.com

Summary: Completely recycled their commercial from last year’s Super Bowl.

Review: I’m guessing Cars.com got a spike in traffic from last year’s ad and figured why not try to catch lightning in a bottle a second time.  Something about being totally unoriginal that in my opinion hurts a brand more than it helps.  Basically gives the viewer permission to get up and use the restroom instead of watching the rest.  And a whole minute?  Really?  Shame on whoever gave this the thumbs up.

Score: 6/10

1st Quarter Score – Advertisers 0, Viewers 7.  Commercials have been more entertainment (not very good entertainment, but entertainment) than effective.

Product: Budweiser

Summary: With the town bridge out, it’s up to the town’s people to help the Budweiser truck get across.

Review: Slightly better than the Bud Light commercials, but barely.  I think Budweiser is smart to stick to using their famous Clydesdale’s in their ads, but at least the commercial was slightly entertaining.  Sadly, when I see this type of Bud commercial, it just reminds me that the company is longer American-owned.

Score: 7/10

Product: Shutter Island Feature Film

Summary: Trailer for upcoming release of new Shutter Island movie.

Review: See Wolfman review above.  Something about upcoming release commercials that seems like a might big waste of money, brining nothing new to the table that hasn’t been showing on television breaks in weeks leading up to the big game.  Commercials we’ve seen before = bathroom breaks.

Score: 5/10

Product: Late Show

Summary: Dave, Oprah and Jay on a couch.

Review: If nothing else, it made you pay attention.  I thought it sort of odd they had three television celebrities from three different networks, but it was kind of interesting and got a chuckle from the crowd I was with.  Decent use of tying in current events.

Score: 6/10

Product: Careerbuilder.com

Summary: Casual Friday’s taken a bit too far.

Review: In what turns out to be the beginning of a disturbing trend of commercials featuring people with less than enough clothes on, Careerbuilder actually does a little bit better job than Monster did in inspiring job seekers to take action.  Seriously, would you want his job?

Score: 7/10

Product: Dockers

Summary: Men declaring their right to wear no pants.

Review: A second commercial in a row with pantless men.  A relatively witty, metaphorical shot at the lack of masculinity in today’s society.  However, I just don’t see Dockers as a legitimate answer to their request to finally wear the pants once again.

Score: 7/10

Product: Hyundai

Summary: Brett Favre continuing to play on his off the field antics.

Review: Completely different from the first Hyundai ad.  Mildly humorous vehicle for reinforcing the company’s warranty.  I remember the commercial more for Brett Favre than the actual product, which in my mind, isn’t the best use of money.

Score: 7/10

Product: Bud Light

Summary: Stranded passengers from a plane crash prefer Bud Light over being rescued.

Review: Again, Bud Light’s intention is to position the brand as a party favorite, and accomplished the feat with a blatant ripoff of the “Lost” pilot episode.  Mildly amusing at times.

Score: 7/10

Product: Dove For Men

Summary: Man goes through life’s big moments to finally feel comfortable with himself.

Review: The song featured in the commercial is kind of entertaining, but in my opinion, Dove is committing one of marketing’s cardinal sins: that of line extension.  They would be better off creating a new brand for this product instead of trying to stretch a successful brand to cover new ground.  My money is on Axe in this battle.

Score: 7/10

Product: Dodge Charger

Summary: Emasculated man gets to enjoy at least one thing in his life.

Review: The commercial was fine, Dexter’s voice was cool and the car itself is pretty awesome.  Just tiring to see commercial after commercial featuring men who aren’t really men at all.  Especially during a game which is supposed to be a “man’s game”.

Score: 7/10

Product: Teleflora

Summary: Flowers in a box will get you nowhere with the ladies.

Review: Another recycled commercial from last year’s Super Bowl.  While the commercial is not all that entertaining, I think it does do a good job justifying an actual purchase of the product, as opposed to most of the commercials so far.  From a marketing perspective, increasing sales should trump entertainment value, but you wouldn’t know it from the majority of the ads played so far.

Score: 8/10

Product: Papa John’s Pizza

Summary: People at the Pro Bowl love pizza.

Review: As a marketer, I can live with commercials like this. Probably didn’t cost much to make.  Reinforces the brand’s position (better ingredients, better pizza).  And invites the viewer to visit the website for a special offer.  Can’t ask for much more in 30 seconds.  I’d bet Papa John’s gets far more mileage for this type of commercial than just about any of the other ads run so far.

Score: 9/10

Product: Alice In Wonderland Feature Film

Summary: Trailer for upcoming release of new Alice In Wonderland movie.

Review: I don’t recall having seen this commercial before except as a 3-D trailer before Avatar. Probably got some people excited to see a new live-action version of the classic.

Score: 6/10

Product: Dr. Pepper Cherry

Summary: A play on a kiss of cherry with the rock legends KISS.

Review: Seems pretty much the same as their previous ads for this product.  Not as effective as the Cherry Dr. Pepper ads with the Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, etc.  Yet another high price to pay for very little pay off.

Score: 6/10

Product: Tru TV

Summary: Troy Polamalu plays groundhog to promote new NFL series on Tru TV.

Review: Maybe the strangest commercial so far.  Regardless, it does a good job teasing the audience and leaving them in need of more information.  Decent use of celebrity as Troy is an NFL superstar, a fan favorite and a rising star in commercials.

Score: 7/10

Product: Universal Orlando

Summary: Grand opening of new Harry Potter theme ride at Universal Studios Orlando.

Review: I want to say it looks cool, but the fact they only show the ride for about 1.5 seconds tells me otherwise.  I think kids will probably be pretty excited about it, especially Potter fans, but I’m guessing that in this economy, not many families are going to pack up and travel cross country to check this out, no matter how much their kids plead.

Score: 6/10

Product: Flo TV

Summary: Man forced to go shopping with his girlfriend instead of staying home to watch sports.

Review: Spineless is right. The recurring theme of this year’s Super Bowl ads appears to be that men have absolutely no spine and no longer wear the pants in the relationship, and any other metaphor you can think of for men being emasculated.  Is this really the best way to sell products to men?  If so, it’s quite sad.  Very cool product.  Not so cool sales tactic.

Score: 6/10

Product: Intel

Summary: New breakthrough in processors is bigger achievement than humanoid robot.

Review: Cute commercial featuring one of the company’s icons.  Semi-effective message introducing new core processors, leading viewer (falsely) to believe they are powerful enough to power a lifelike robot.  Will probably be effective overall as competition doesn’t really advertise.

Score: 7/10

Product: Flo TV

Summary: Life’s memorable moments are caught on TV, so don’t get caught without a television at all times.

Review: I have to say this Flo TV commercial is exponentially more effective than the first one which is simply offensive. Why will.i.am needed to be involved I’m not sure as it didn’t take a musical genius to “remix” the classic Who song being played in the back (the commercial also led into the Who halftime show), but the commercial as a whole will probably sell some product.  Definitely one of the more effective commercials of the first half.

Score: 8/10

Half Time Score – Advertisers 3, Viewers 7.  Second quarter commercials have been slightly more effective marketing-wise, allowing the advertisers to creep back into the game.