February 07, 2017

By Gonzalo López Martí - Creatve director, etc. / LMMiami.com

  • Here’s a review of the ads on last Sunday’s annual sports & marketing extravaganza.
  • As usual, I wrote this off the top of my head, making the effort to view the material as actual consumers do: surrounded by noisy friends and family, eating processed food, mildly inebriated on cheap beer and simultaneously checking various mobile devices.
  • Point is, in this biz we tend to overanalyze ideas hence distancing ourselves from the actual experience of consuming advertising: regular Joes and Janes are exposed to ads absent-mindedly at best, totally indifferent most of the times. If you throw into the equation the spin we get from our social media echo chambers, the result can be perplexing.
  • Then again we can agree that the Super Bowl is a small barometer of our culture’s mood and sentiment.
  • Here are some conclusions:
  • Madison Avenue is occupied by hipsters.
  • Corporate America doesn’t quite like the course the new administration seems to be taking on certain social issues. That or they thought Hillary would win and they couldn’t change their material on time, which is unlikely cuz these folks are notorious for not making the smallest of decisions in the absence of ample quali-quanti research to support it.
  • Our movies, shows and videogames are rife with gratuitous, ludicrous violence. To judge by the content Hollywood keeps cranking out, the new generations seem to be blasé or numb to violence and all the studios seem to be able to come up with is the same old stale premises only with bigger explosions, more death and more gravity-defying nonsense. This is very worrying. Very.
  • So let’s review the stuff.
  • I’m not going to award points to the work nor am I listing them in order of preference.
  • This is what lingered in my mind.
  • 84 Lumber: never heard of these folks but they have a tremendous pair of cojones. Needless to say, they know damn well that Latinos buy the bulk of their output. I’d dare say this spot is up there with Apple’s 1984 in terms of big thinking and courageous use of a 30 second slot in the Bowl Super.
  • Audi: an anthemic spot advocating for equal pay for women. A tectonic marketing maneuver unfolding before our eyes. You a career gal? Can we interest you in an overpriced Volkswagen with a slightly sportier gearbox and more creature comforts? Brilliant, ruthless strategy and execution. Way to go.
  • Tiffanys: a Lady Gaga confessional that rings a bit staged but, nevertheless, will possibly do wonders for the brand’s relevance.
  • Michelob: working out is the new Happy Hour. The gym is the new bar. HUGE INSIGHT. Not so sure about the execution. Overly literal. Still, it will do wonders to what ultimately is an old brand that´s managed to carve itself a leading spot in a very specific category that’s bound to grow exponentially in the coming years, or so methinks. These guys are onto something and the marketing thinking behind it is outstanding.
  • Honda: various celebs talk to us from their yearbook photos in an effort that seems spot on to capture slightly hipsterized GenXers. Disclaimer: as you might know, Honda is my favorite brand ever and I am a hipsterized GenXer so I might be biased here. Did I ever tell you that my dream job would be Global Head of Design at The Honda Motor Company? Either that or editor-in-chief of the New York Post.
  • Airbnb: a bold and powerful strategic statement executed in the form of a Benetton PSA by a disruptive company that has serious PR, political and legal battles ahead of it.
  • Budweiser: no Clydesdales this year. In its place the giant global brewer reminded ‘murika that it was actually founded by an immigrant. As was Chevrolet, if I may add. Funny side note: a while back I tried to sell Chevy a campaign based on this exact premise. It was rejected. In any case, kudos to Budweiser. Good stuff. Heritage always delivers.
  • GoDaddy: FHBH. For hipsters by hipsters. I liked it. Left me wanting to see more.
  • LIFEWTR: Pepsi hired a committee of shrinks to conceive and execute this spot BLATANTLY geared at the female 16 to 46 demo. And they spent the big bucks. Daddy issues, soothing, purifying rain, new-agey street art and THE VOICE: John Legend. If this stuff doesn’t make the Hillary crowd -and many a trumpette too- run to the grocery store to stock up on overpriced bottled water I don’t know what does.
  • Bai: Walken and Timberlake. N’synch spoof. Made me look. Don’t know what Bai is or does but left me asking for more.
  • Avocados from México: quirky SNL-style writing. This type of post ironic comedy requires a tricky combination of nuance & bite (no pun intended). Maybe a Super Bowl spot is not the best place to do it justice. But I’ll give them credit for trying. Guacamole has become a yuge part of the national casual eating repertoire and these folks want hipsters to keep eating the stuff, hence making the rest of ‘murika follow suit. Makes sense.
  • Tide: An inclusive, crowd-pleasing parody of our social media crazy culture, full of cameos and starring two gentlemen of a certain age who usually can do funny effortlessly: Terry Bradshaw and Jeffrey Tambor. A professionally executed piece for a staple of the CPG category that, for some reason, doesn’t seem to fully coalesce. The brand name recognition and value proposition is there front and center though.
  • Febreze: in similar fashion to the Tide spot featuring Terry Bradshaw, this is modern CPG advertising based on a rock-solid insight and done right.
  • Sprint: dad fakes death with spectacularly silly antic to break out of contract with his predatory mobile phone carrier plus former Verizon spokesman partaking in the joke. Strong insight and strong simple concept.
  • Advil: kinda looked like a Red Bull commercial. I think it is an old one. Might have seen it before. Big Pharma exploring new uncharted territory. I guess the opioid abuse epidemic will not go anywhere for generations to come.
  • Taco Bell: retro hipster footage. Not sure what they were selling but I kinda liked it enough to give a burned brand like Taco Bell a second look.
  • National Geographic: a bunch of teasers announcing the launch of what seems to be a new show about Einstein in some sort of scripted format or genre. I’d they left me wanting to know more.
  • McDonalds: a music vid featuring a cool MC in various slice of life environments. Ronald seems to be desperate for some pop culture/street cred. There’s a Big Mac for that was the theme/tagline of the spot. Clever appropriation of Apple’s App store call to action.
  • AFLAC: the AFLAC duck keeps annoying audiences in this shameless rip-off of GEICO’s long-running campaign. I guess it must be paying off to judge by the way they stick to it.
  • Coca-Cola: a very bold statement in full “Hilltop” mode. It needs the tactical stuff around it to actually sell cans of soft drink, of course, yet it certainly is powerful and courageous. Full disclosure: Coca-Cola was my client for several years, I am emotionally invested so my POV can be biased.
  • Cigna: Loved it. Great work. TV doctors make fun of the whole premise of the TV doctor and the mannerisms of the genre to get people to get a yearly checkup. Clap clap clap. Sound marketing, sound creative. An unexpected small masterpiece in a what usually is a stodgy category littered with self-important clichés that only add to the mistrust of what most folks regard as a predatory industry (trust me, I know the category first hand and it is painfully hard to get good work approved).
  • Proactiv: teenager with zits is startled by Olivia Munn. If you are 13 this might be the most hilarious spot of the Super Bowling. Cannes material it ain’t but it certainly is a marketing home run.
  • Ford: a compilation of funny YouTube-style fails leads to a visual bullet-point litany of Ford’s latest technological achievements, creature comforts and features. Disruptive advertising it ain’t but it certainly is good thinking, professionally executed.
  • Google Home: some sort of humidifier that talks to lonely people and keeps them from mixing sleeping pills with vodka.
  • Michelin: ¿?
  • Mobile Strike: Ahnold. Again. He’s gaining new currency, I guess.
  • H&R Block: Lost me at second 5.
  • Skittles: a brand manager’s dream, with the planner’s fingerprints all over it. The kind of material that certainly works with the 14 year-old demo and send lots of them to the dentist’s chair.
  • Busch beer: another brand manager’s dream come true. Good ole Pavlovian material with a hipsterish twist.
  • Intel: Nobody knows exactly what Intel does but, hey, they must have oodles of cash if they can afford to hire Tom Brady and a cute pet for their ads.
  • Yellow Tail: a nice little workhorse of a campaign to get ‘murika to try cheap wine. Not particularly brilliant but I guess it does the trick.
  • Pistachios: cute talking beast. Funny writing delivering all the right copy points. Celeb VO. Everyone’s happy: client, agency & consumer.
  • Buick: a crowd pleaser about idyllic life in the exurbs. Cam Newton, lotsa cute kids and some hot model. Feel-good stuff all the way. Don’t spend money sending it to Cannes.
  • Tmobile: Justin Bieber and some overpaid football playas clowning around to pitch some unlimited something to the post-pubescent consumer. It’s the name of the game this days in the cutthroat mobile category.
  • Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola and food. Why spend money writing & shooting a commercial when you can air that endearing mood board the planner clipped together with stuff he/she found on YouTube?
  • Alfa Romeo: I worship this brand and everything they do. I would’ve expected something edgier and more risqué from these dudes.
  • TurboTax: Ok, I get it.
  • GEICO: bank robbers use a getaway Uber. Funny-ish. A little subdued for the over-the-top context of the Super Bowl. Geico has better material but still the quality of their work is so good and steady across the board that you gotta cut them some slack.
  • Lexus: Meh.
  • Squarespace: great insight, a simple joke beautifully delivered. Plus, anything featuring Malko scores points with yours truly.
  • Wix: the hardest working man in B movies -Jason Statham- and the Wonder Woman actress destroy a restaurant in this total cliché of a spot. A waste of money, if you ask me.
  • Turkish Airlines: Morgan Freeman. Gravitas. Peace of mind. Nothing is particularly brilliant about this spot but it certainly is money well spent.
  • King’s Hawaiian: a zero-sum campaign in terms of ROI. It will recoup the money and then some. The CEO will be happy, everyone will be happy.
  • Bud Lite: Spuds comes back from the grave. Not sure about this one. At all.
  • Mercedes Benz: they say the Coen Bros. directed this pompous piece of flat-footed pandering. C’mon. The whole thing looks like a Pontiac commercial from the late 80s.
  • Wendy’s: The other QSR chains use frozen beef, we don’t. I get it. Simple, clever, the hipsters will like it.

 

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