Rating the Super Bowl XLV Ads

Time for me to offer my most humble opinion on the Super Bowl XLV ads.

Since I’m a professor, I’ll offer my ratings in the form of grades.

I graded each ad on two criteria:
1. Marketing/branding value: how well did the ad inform/reinforce the product and/or the company’s brand?
2. Entertainment value: how amusing and/or attention-getting (in a positive, proactive way) was the ad?

Cutting to the chase, allow me to provide some commentary before I give an ad-by-ad review:

THE GOOD:

Chrysler
The statement the brand made about its city will live on for a long time. This was a major social statement, not just an ad.

Coca-Cola
All Coke does is remind us how good drinking a Coca-Cola makes someone feel, over and over again, but in new ways that reinforce to us precisely how good that feels, and how good it feels to share that feeling.

Volkswagen
VW cranked out two of the Super Bowl’s most solid ads with Star Wars/kids/family and animated beetles. Both were on point and on message, cool, and on the cutting edge. They spoke to us in terms we can understand. Well done!

Skechers
Okay, get by the obvious, and bear with me long enough for me to say this: if you didn’t think that the display of Kim Kardashian as she was exhibited didn’t effectively create attention for the product and create a supposed link to the results it can create, then I’m not sure you and I can agree on what an ad is supposed to do.

THE BAD:

Anheuser-Busch
Darren Rovell said it best from his Twitter account: “Put it this way, no one responsible for the ads tonight by Bud & Bud Light has a day off tomorrow. Worst performance in long time.”

Hyundai
I LOVE my Hyundai Sonata. It’s the second one I’ve had in five years, both bought new (I liked the first one so much I bought a second one). They’ve given me great service, great roadside service, great gas mileage, great comfort and features, and unbeatable value. However, these Super Bowl ads Hyundai rolled out shook my perception of the brand, and this impact would’ve been worse if I’d not already been a loyal customer. Their messages were off, and their ads were completely bland with no redeeming features. This isn’t a good step for Hyundai. They blew a ton of money.

HomeAway.com
Whoever you are, whatever you do, whatever you tried to do in this ad—they were all complete, colossal failures, and you wasted $3 million of your angel investor’s money.

THE UGLY:

Pepsi
Maybe one decent ad in the whole lot.

GoDaddy.com
We get it, GoDaddy. Registering an Internet domain is all about T&A. We’ve seen your shtick for what seems like a decade now, and we know who you are. Now just go away, please. And take Joan Rivers with you.

E*Trade
Retire the talking baby!

Groupon
Pray tell, Groupon: what exactly is funny about the situation in Tibet? That’s right, not one thing. So why use that in an attempt to be humorous in an ad? Dumb.

DARKHORSE AWARD:

(tie)

CarMax
CarMax brought a good mix of humor and solid reinforcement of the brand’s customer-friendly focus.

BMW
Solid, no frills ads kept their brand and message at the forefront. I especially liked the one emphasizing how the cars are made in working-class areas of the country, essentially making BMW an All-American brand. Interesting tack for a foreign luxury brand. Just might work.

And now for the moment you’ve all eagerly anticipated; give me a drumroll as I unveil…

MY TOP FIVE ADS
5. Coca-Cola border guards
4. Doritos apartment/Grandpa comes to life
3. NFL sitcoms
2. Chrysler Eminem/Detroit
1. Volkswagen Star Wars/kids

Now for an ad-by-ad report card for Super Bowl XLV:

FIRST HALF

Bud Light remodel show
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C
Nothing they don’t already do
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C
Again, nothing new

Doritos dog owner
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C-
Not focused on product until end
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C-
This stuff stopped being funny years ago

Audi (A8)
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
Too much Mercedes logo
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A-
Solid plot

Doritos office
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
Better product incorporation than first ad
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C
Still not really funny

Chevy Cruze
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B
Good reinforcement throughout
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B
Good end

Pepsi Max
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: D+
How does mental relationship cruelty help sell soft drinks?
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: D-
Nothing funny about pegging someone in the head accidentally with a soft drink can

Bud Light movie set
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
Good stab at product placement by mocking it
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: D+
Just not funny.

Chevy truck as Lassie
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B+
Kept product at forefront
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Crisp, clever, not great but not over top

PepsiMax backyard
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C-
Product surfaces but isn’t at forefront
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: D-
Just nothing funny about this stuff

Doritos apartment
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A
Eating Doritos does magical things; clever concept, enforced well!
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A
Grandpa coming back to life actually made me laugh!

Hyundai Elantra
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C-
Good product focus but..
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: F
…ad was boring, not entertaining at all

Kia Helicopter/UFO
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: D-
Poor product focus; couldn’t tell what it was until late
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Entertaining but scattered

Lipton Tea Eminem Claymation
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
Good because…
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B+
…claymation always holds my attention. I suppose it’s because I’m part of the MTV generation!

Bridgestone email
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: D-
Doesn’t ever let us know what’s being pitched
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B+
Pretty funny, because we’ve all lived that email nightmare

Chevy Volt history
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C+
Good attachment to history-making
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C+
Probably only resonated with history buffs like me

GoDaddy Joan Rivers
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B
Kept GoDaddy at forefront
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C
T&A just doesn’t zing when overused, and then Joan kills any buzz it might create

Bud western
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B
Product focus good
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C-
Great set-up; cheesy finish

Teleflora Faith Hill
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C+
Hard to distinguish product
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B+
Faith Hill and the word “rack” get men’s attention, right or wrong

BMW factory
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Good product focus
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Nothing fancy; straightforward delivery of message can be good

Motorola drone
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C+
Good product focus but can’t tell what it is; thought it was an iPad at first
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B
A fantasy we can all relate to

BMW changes
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C
Decent product focus
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: D
Nothing special

Coca-Cola Dragons
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Late but great
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A+
Coke is the best at this

Volkswagen Star Wars kids
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A
Very good without being over top
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A+
Fusion of universally liked themes of Star Wars, kids, family

Snickers celebrity lumberjacks
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
Late product focus but in line with other similar ads
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A+
Wish Rosanne Barr would suffer that fate in reality!

Careerbuilder.com monkeys
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C
Nothing special
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C-
Monkeys are funny but have been overused to the point of ineffectiveness

Chevy Cruze date night
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Shows something new/relevant that a Chevy can do; especially appealing to 20-somethings who target market for this car
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Not high but solid & not stupid

Castrol Steelers
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B
Good association with a tough team (just not while the ad ran, bad timing!)
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C+
Football + more football = likely ignored

CarMax similes
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Got to product focus before cutting to humor
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A-
Laugh-out-loud funny

SECOND HALF

Cars.com Go first
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C-
Late, not very strong
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C
Mildly funny, nothing special

E*Trade talking baby tailor
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C+ reinforced E*Trade’s overall marketing campaign, but not all that special
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C-
The talking baby should’ve been retired when the original talking baby got too old to do these ads

Best Buy Bieber Ozzy
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
Okay but late; celebs could’ve been too distracting
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B+
Ozzy always funny; GREAT closing line about Bieber: “Kinda looks like a girl!”

Mini Cooper game show
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: D-
Product there but almost disparaged
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: F
I’d like to cram that ad in the boot!

HomeAway.com gobltygook
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: F
Didn’t learn anything about them.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: F
Fail. Just Fail.

Hyundai Elantra Hypnosis
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B+
Good message about compact cars
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C+
Catchy, solid, safe

Groupon Tibet
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: D-
Just didn’t get it
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: F
Nothing funny about the plight of Tibet

Coca-Cola border guards
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Great reinforced Coke mantra
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A-
Clever! Coke tells same old story but in new fun ways!

A-B Stella Artois speakeasy
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: F
Drinking one will make me cry or sing badly? That’s the only vibe I got.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: D
Great scene, poor execution

CarMax old service station
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
I’m always looking for good customer service, so this was a good hook
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
A little hokey but okay

Chrysler Detroit Eminem
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A
Late/weak placement, but what a strong statement!
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A+
I’ve been to Detroit and have seen what a great city it was and can be. Major props to Chrysler for this ad. Strong social statement.

NFL TV shows
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A
Strong reinforcement of why we like the NFL
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A
Great mashup of favorite sitcoms, proving few understand branding like the NFL! Talk about stealing your own show!

Cars.com talking cars
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B
Tells what Cars.com does quickly and clearly
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Uses Cars movie effect to reel in

Bud Light Dog sitter party
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B-
In line with overall Bud Light marketing campaign
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B+
Funniest Bud ad tonight

Hyundai Sonata antiques
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: D+
Too easy to make Hyundai equate to antiques
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C+
Liked oddity of antiques in modern world

Pepsi Max date
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C+
Good save of product, but it came very late
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Funny, but humor was too adult-centric

Bridgestone beaver
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B
Product link not good, but good enforcement of brand value of trust
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B
Not spectacular but solid

GoDaddy dressing room
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: F
Completely confused; unrelated to product
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: D-
But only because I think Danica is a great spokesmodel

Volkswagen beetles
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: B+
Very late but very effective underscore of product
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A-
I always wondered why VW didn’t use real beetles to pitch their Beetle car

Mercedes timeline
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A+ kept product actively front & center the whole ad
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A pretty good timeline sequence

Chevy Camaro
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C
The Camaro isn’t a stunt car; only idiots believe that
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: B-
Corny but palatable stream-of-consciousness with decent hook end

Verizon iPhone
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Speaks to a hot-button technology/cell phone issue; reinforced by the familiar Verizon man character
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C
But entertainment not really needed in this ad

Skechers Kim Kardashian
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: A-
Made us wait, but what a statement on fitness Kim makes!
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A-
Why hasn’t Kim been in an ad like this before now?

E*Trade talking baby & cat
MARKETING/BRANDING VALUE: C+
Reinforced E*Trade’s overall marketing campaign, but not anything special
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: C-
Again, the talking baby should’ve been retired by now

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