February 06, 2018

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

If the Super Bowl is indeed a barometer of national sentiment, it is quite clear that the mood of the masses is shifting. Save for some allusions to recent natural disasters, the “cause marketing”, “virtue signaling”, social commentary and moral grandstanding we witnessed last year seem to have taken a backseat. The Dow is a damned geyser. The labor market is tight as a Telemundo weather girl’s dress. Taxes are low, life is good. Rocket man? Border walls? We’ll get to that later. It’s time to make hay now. It’s back to business in ‘murica to judge by the hefty prices brands, movie studios and streaming services*** are paying to appear in the crevices of the last football game of the season. So, what can we say of the repertoire? It was quintessential Super Bowl fare. Crowd-pleasing tropes, unpretentious gimmicks, not too brainy. Don’t overthink it, just throw a ton of money at the brief. Write a simple script, have the planners sign off on it and get a seasoned, big name director to shoot the boards. With “a big name director” I mean someone who knows how to blow shit up and handle celebrities. And their publicists. Problem is, advertising is always a tossup. Even if you throw all the right ingredients into the equation to play it safe with a sure bet, the acid test of memorability can still be elusive. Hence, without further ado, I give you my impressions below.  Disclaimer:  what you are about to read is 100% morning after unaided recall.

  • Amazon’s Alexa: the Leviathan from the Pacific Northwest goes all Hollywood with a multimillion-dollar star-studded super production. Including a front & center cameo by its founder, Jeff Bezos, aka the richest sonabitch in the planet according to Fortune’s latest ranking. The premise of the spot is a bit far-fetched but the writing is good and the execution precise. The message comes across loud and clear. All in all, it is a perfectly crafted product demo. The bonus track of including the founder in the storyline is a great branding maneuver. America has a long tradition of using its swashbuckling entrepreneurial CEOs as endorsers (Col. Sanders, Lee Iacocca, the dude from Papa Johns, etc). The tech world has taken the “rockstar CEO” logic to the next level (Jobs, Gates, Musk, Zuckerberg). Ego trip? Possibly. But it is sound marketing too. Mission accomplished. Money well spent. Just don’t send it to Cannes.
  • Verizon: thank you calls to first responders. Great idea, great execution, lotsa legs. A favorite of yours truly.
  • Kraft: use your mobile device to show us “how you family” with some cutesy hashtag. A nice, no-frills way to create social media traction and good will around the brand that brought you Velveeta.
  • Ameritrade: Made me chuckle. The lion’s share of Ameritrade’s customer base is made up of what the industry calls “day traders”, meaning amateurish parvenus, adrenaline junkies and assorted shut-ins who fancy themselves part-time stockbrokers. But wait: Ameritrade lets you gamble your savings “all night long”! And they hired Lionel Ritchie to get the point across! Deadpan comedy, perfect timing. A small winner in a somewhat niche category. Money well spent. Needless to say, this spot will be decried as an obscene proof of greedy exuberance come the inevitable day Wall Street takes a nosedive.
  • Toyota. Orthopedics. Can-do attitude. Mettle. Resilience. Nice work. Money well spent.
  • Universal Orlando with Peyton Manning. An infomercial. Sort of. Still, money well spent.
  • Doritos Blaze + Mountain Dew Ice: kind of looks like a spot for a 16 year-old target audience crafted by a 40 year-old creative team. Can’t say it ain’t memorable. Money well spent.
  • M&M. Read my Doritos & Mountain Dew comments above.
  • Budweiser. Stand by me. OK. But show me a documentary. A heartfelt spot with actors is not enough.
  • Stella Artois. Matt Damon. Clean Water. Similar premise to the Budweiser “Stand by me” spot but with a better execution.
  • Lexus. Black Panther. Hey, Lexus CMO: it is gonna take the teens who’ll watch this movie at least 15 years to reach their 30s and be able to afford a $50k sports car. You know that, right? Otherwise, I guess I can only commend the way you are planning ahead.
  • Pringles. Stoner humor to sell potato chips. Sure.
  • Halftime show: Justin Timberlake’s comeback, sans wardrobe malfunctions. He gave 120% in his performance. A painstakingly choreographed one-take tour de force of his career, including an homage to the deceased artist formerly known as Prince. Social media was ambivalent, if not hostile. Seems like a lot of people were left asking for more (more performers?). Was the crowd expecting an N’sync reunion? A Mickey Mouse club revival with Britney Spears? Who knows.
  • Pepsi: the bluebloods sponsored the halftime show and opened it with a turgid self-referential mashup supposedly “for every generation”. Really? The ages-old problem of trying to be all things to all people and being meaningless to everyone. A clear example of a marketing department talking to itself. Not sure I can blame them. After the Kendall Jenner snafu those folks must be scared shxtless. Don’t get me wrong, marketing a cola in 2018 is EXTREMELY difficult. The risk of fucking up or falling flat is quite high. Which brings us to…
  • Coca-Cola: a preettee similar problemo. The Atlanta soda peddlers waxed inclusive with such a soft focus that it came across as bland and, how to put it, snowflaky. It looked like a My Little Pony spot for 5 year-old children.
  • Sprint. Artificial intelligence seems to be partial to Sprint over Verizon. Nerds might’ve loved it.
  • Turkish Airlines. Dr Oz invites ‘murica to “widen your world”. Great little spot. Amazing cinematography. Question is, d’you folks running Turkish Airlines’ marketing department have research indicating that Americans want to indeed widen their world? Anyhoo, keep ‘em coming. You guys have a long uphill battle ahead of you but the effort will eventually pay off. If ‘murica is scarfing down guacamole like there’s no tomorrow, ‘murica will eventually fly Turkish.
  • Bud light. A teaser + payoff spot featuring a battlefield in the middle ages. Meh.
  • Rocket Mortgage. Comedian Keegan Mickael Key dispels advice to the befuddled masses about different instances of BS, lingo and jargon that surround us in everyday life. Insightful and clever yet not big enough for a Super Bowl. The SB is all about going big or going home. It is a sound campaign concept though and it should have plenty legs. Money well spent.
  • Avocados from Mexico. Zanier by the year. They are selling so much of the stuff that they just don’t care anymore.
  • Diet Coke. A skinny girl dancing. It’s all I recall.
  • Tide. The Stranger Things dude spoofs advertising tropes and seemingly crashes commercials by other brands in a surgically orchestrated media blitz with flawless executions. I loved it but, then again, I am a middle aged borderline hipster. At a risk of sounding cisgendernormative and heteropatriarchal, I am not sure I am the bull’s eye target audience of laundry detergent. Then again, the socialsphere LOVED it too. The jury is still out on how or why gathering social media love affects a marketer’s bottom line but it certainly doesn’t hurt. A big idea. Winner. Cannes potential. Unbearable professional envy. Money well spent.
  • Febreze. ???
  • Michelob Ultra. Chris Pratt. Live fit. Live Fun. Live Michelob. I’m ambivalent. Chris Pratt probably saves the campaign. I guess.
  • Squarespace. Keanu Reeves bike surfs on a desert road and lip-synchs some tune. It is a teaser and if you want to know how it ends you have to log on to their website (which happens to be a platform to build your own website). The lunatics at Squarespace keep hitting it out of the park with post ironic material.
  • Dodge. MLK speech. This campaign is being trolled to a pulp on social media. Unfairly if you ask me.
  • Tourism of Australia. A Crocodile Dundee spoof with stoner idol Danny McBride and one of the Hemsworth brothers. Money well spent.
  • Persil. Lame as hell but, hey, I remember the brand name.
  • Toyota. A Japanese company claims to be a proud partner of team USA in the Olympics. With a straight gace. Really? It is either very foolish or very unpatriotic. It is not uncommon for marketers to come up with inexplicable cases of cognitive dissonance requiring massive amounts of suspended disbelief. Won’t be the first time. Or the last. I did like the spot though. Sort of. They turned that COEXIST bumper sticker into a campaign for their full-size pick-up truck. Made me look.
  • Intuit Quickbooks. Time is money. I get it but it fell flat.
  • eTrade working retirees. Funny. Drives the message home. A bit overpromising though. The type of hyperbole that comes back to haunt brands when the stock market eventually crashes.
  • Dodge Ram. Vikings. Convoluted. Next.
  • Wendys. Their burgers are not frozen. Ok. Next.
  • Yellow Tail. Kangaroo at surprise party. The typical planning-driven spot creatives loathe. Money well spent though.
  • Jeep Rubicon. Jeff Goldblum vs TRex. A great product demo. Money well spent.
  • Kia. Steven Tyler drives in reverse and goes back in time with lousy CGI. Use your better vocal fry and repeat after me: Thatz. Waz. Weirdz.
  • TMobile. Multiethnic babies. Inclusion. Equal pay. Made me look. Are they accusing the other mobile carriers of being racist or sexist in any way? I’m missing something here.
  • Telemundo World Cup. Andrés Cantor drops the mic. Not a wildly original or particularly brilliant idea, yet bold, relevant, simple and to the point. Golazo. Money well spent.
  • Hyundai. The hope detector gimmick is a bit lame. The premise of the campaign is big and bold though. Cancer research. Hope comes standard. Money well spent. Literally & figuratively.
  • Jeep. There’s your manifesto. Nice product demo. Money well spent.
  • Groupon. Support local businesses. Weird and slapstick. Yet it made me chuckle and I think they have an good angle with strategic premise behind it It is a known fact that mom & pop retailers are not quite fond of Groupon yet that admit it is a necessary evil. Nevertheless, money well spent.

***There was indeed a notable amount of movie trailers, sneak peeks and TV show promos before, during & after the game too which I opted to not critique.


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