The Not-So-Super Ad Bowl

February 4th, 2008

Last night, an estimated 97.5 million viewers tuned into the Super Bowl, and over the course of four hours, were introduced to 54 new commercials from 37advertisers. This year’s Super Bowl ad spots proved to be big ticket items with advertisers paying an average of a record $2.7 million per 30 second spot.

For players, coaches and fans, the Super Bowl has always been the stage for NFL’s much anticipated annual championship, but for ad execs, it’s also the unofficial setting for the national ad title. So, how did they fare this year? Not as hot as the GiantsPatriots match-up, that’s for sure.

 That’s not to say there weren’t some good ones. Overall, sweet-natured spots scored best with consumers and ad execs, rather the than shocking or just-plain-gross ads that seemed to dominate the night. According to the 20th annual ad meter, the USA Today’s real-time consumer rating of Super Bowl commercials, while the Patriot’s perfect winning streak was broken, Anheuser-Busch came up undefeated once again with the best-liked ad for the tenth consecutive year.   

Fittingly, the ad depicted the underdog coming out on top (Eli Manning, anyone?). The ad featured a horse that fails to make the team of Clydesdales horses that pulls the Budweiser wagon. But with the help of a personal trainer played by a Dalmatian, the horse eventually succeeds. As the Clydesdales are a perennial fan-favorite, the commercial not only made unforeseen parallels with the outcome of the game, but it also tugged on viewer’s heartstrings, providing an all over “feel good” feeling.

Another audience favorite that earned high marks was Coke’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float spot. Not only did viewers love it, but The Wall Street Journal and industry professionals said the ad was exactly what a Super Bowl ad should be. It wasn’t gross, shocking or controversial; it was beautiful, sunny and wholesome.

The same cannot be said, however, of’s commercials which were in bad taste at best. The one spot showed a disgruntled employee’s heart literally bursting out of her chest, walking into her boss’ office and holding up a sign that says “I quit.” The message? “Follow your heart.” While the message makes sense, the visual was disturbing – who wants to see a gaping, bloody wound in a woman’s chest?

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only commercial that misfired. E*Trade’s commercials with the talking babies didn’t exactly garner rave reviews. In the first, a child kid spits up on his keyboard/  In the second, a kid rents a party clown and complains about how creepy it is. Really? Call me crazy, but the talking baby with the man voice alone was enough to creep me out.

And last but not least, we have the Victoria’s Secret commercial, reminding viewers that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. While done in semi-good taste, the ad drew varying responses from the critics. Advertising Age Critic Bob Garfield, even went so far as to call it “soft porn.”

While the Giants 17-14 victory over the near-perfect Patriots will stand out in Super Bowl history as one of the greatest upsets of all-time, Madison Avenue left much to be desired by way of the ads. Here’s to hoping next year will bring more creativity and taste to the Super Bowl.

Posted Under: Advertising
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