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Chevy Camaro grad commercialSo I’ve heard some folks spent tonight watching a football game. Me? I was too busy watching commercials, and that means it’s time for VantagePoint Marketing’s third annual Super Bowl commercial review. Here are my admittedly biased first impressions of each national ad (and a few locals too). I’ve tried to capture them as they happened, from kickoff to the closing plays, as they aired here in Greenville. (Want to catch them again, or see the longer version they couldn’t afford to air on the Super Bowl? Check them out on the NBC Sports website or on YouTube.)

So, without further ado:

Bud Light Platinum
Nice production values. But forgettable. Why do we need a platinum beer, exactly?

Audi Vampires
This is a perfect example of telling a story that supports a brand benefit – Audi’s relatively unique LED headlights. Very nicely done, with great editing and a well-crafted story (not to mention playing off the vampire theme that I’m sure more than a few folks would like to see come to an end very soon!). The end is a great touch (I won’t give it away if you haven’t seen it). Nice use of a Twitter hashtag in the commercial as well.

Not sure what a costume drama has to do with Pepsi, but it’s interesting to watch. At last Elton John has a real reason for an over-the-top costume, though. And the blackletter title screen is a nice touch – kudos to the art director.

Hyundai Velostar Turbo
Yep. A cheetah’s always a good way to demonstrate speed. Not sure we needed to see the critter turn on the guy, though. Pretty effective – you can’t leave the commercial without getting the impression of speed.

Bud Light Platinum 2
Yawn. Just another beer commercial with fake, good-looking people.

A naked M&M? Why, exactly? I love M&Ms, but have never really been a huge fan of their current commercial theme of turning-what-you-eat-into-a-character. And this one is less effective than some of the other previous incarnations. Pass.

Best Buy
“We created Words with Friends.” On a plane. Great touch. But I was so distracted by the joke that I didn’t get why Best Buy was doing the commercial. Not really effective in my book.

Coca-Cola Polar Bears
The CGI looks less “real” than some previous commercials. And not sure I really get the theme in just one viewing. Bring back the old bears!

Chevrolet truck
Very effective way to show the Chevy Truck is strong. But the apocalypse theme is a little too depressing. (In fact, some scenes looked a little 9/11 New-Yorkish.) The “Dave didn’t make it. Dave drove a Ford.” “Twinkie?” exchange adds some important light-heartedness, though.

You know, I really wanted to like this commercial. A football made of tire tread had SO many opportunities for comedy and demonstration. But they threw it all away (pardon the pun) with a bizarre curving pass and a Deion Sanders temper tantrum.

Predictable. You can’t help but notice the dot-co domain pitch, but other than that, the innuendo is nothing new.

Pretty ordinary car commercial. There was potential for much more drama and suspense, but the directing and editing (and even music) didn’t allow it to build properly. And why is this Lexus particularly different, other than the front grille?

Battleship movie
Transfomers with smaller robots. I really wanted them to say “G-4” or “you sunk my battleship” at some point. But they didn’t.

Budweiser Prohibition
Very cinematic and gorgeous to watch. (Love the guy from the barbershop with the shaving cream still on his face.) Nice way to show heritage.

Snack food as bribery. Canine-human communication. Post-it notes from dogs. Funny. (Poor Fluffy.)

Chevrolet Camaro
“Hey, Mr. Johnson just stole my car!” Great premise, clear tie to the brand, compelling story, funny. (I love how the innocent jogger passing by gets drawn in to the celebration.) And was created entirely by a 26-year-old dude from Long Island. Very nice.

GE Turbines
Informational, nicely lit and shot. And then they throw in the beer thing? Grasping at straws a little. Maybe even pandering?

John Carter movie
Creatures in the sand threaten the world, and we’re all rescued by some rugged-looking hunk. SURELY this has been done before. Right? Sigh.

Really? Watching a little desperate kid finally decide to pee in the pool? And linking that to “free”? Is that the best they could come up with to compete with H&R Block and TurboTax?

The Lorax movie
Entertaining, fun voices. But I’ve seen it before. My opinion: if you’ve paid for a SuperBowl spot, PLEASE show an original commercial!

Volkswagen, Dog/Vader
This was a good — not great — commercial. Until it “ended.” And started again in (pardon my limited Star-Warsian knowledge) some bar on a distant planet in a galaxy far, far away. In VW’s attempt to reproduce last year’s awesomeness, I think the commercial just got confusing.

David Beckham, in all his tattooed and skivvy-clad glory. I guess it’s ok, if you’re into that kind of thing — and $15 tighty-whities. (The ad buyer did realize the Super Bowl is football, not futbol, right?)

Coca Cola Polar Bears #2
Ok, I get it. He’s playing football and not even realizing it. This one is more fun, despite the image quality. Was the first one just a setup?

Chevy Sonic
This is a lot of fun, and the agency made a great choice for the soundtrack. Definitely shows the edgy, fun side of a car that Chevy is working hard to sell to fun-loving twenty-somethings. I love that they start the commercial with a full-screen “don’t try this at home” disclaimer. And a “Please.”

Star Wars 3D movie
I guess here is my opportunity to learn about the location of the bar in the VW commercial. And in 3D, no less.

The Avengers movie
Well, I knew it was going to be for a movie. I just wasn’t sure which superhero was going to get title billing. (I almost thought it might have been a satire.)

“Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give, and you shall receive,” she says. Ok, well, maybe in some guys’ dreams (see Kia Optima, below), but I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than that in real life. However, the commercial is memorable for its simplicity and immediate link to Teleflora. I bet it’ll sell some flowers.

Skechers Mr. Quiggly
The CGI looks awkward. As does Mark Cuban. And while the new shoes may have some benefit (not sure what “midfoot strikers” means), it’s certainly not evident how they tie to a pug that runs faster than greyhounds.

Xbox Kinect
Using the NFL Films announcer is a nice touch, but it’s a really boring commercial. No entertainment value. And therefore, in this cast of very capable characters, I lost interest before the ad was 10 seconds in.
Ok, the falsetto singing back-arm is just a little freaky. Not sure it does much to sell, even if it does give you “confidence.” I just couldn’t quit looking at the singing back-arm-thingy.

Grandma-in-a-motorizing-wheelchair endangering a baby by turning it into a strapped-in projectile? Where is Health & Human Services when you need them? (Here’s hoping some nit-wit doesn’t try to emulate the commercial.)

The baby is back. With a friend “speed dating” in the nursery? It’s gotten to the point where I don’t pay attention to what the baby is saying anymore; I just look for the gimmicks. Which means I’m not learning much about the brand.

G.I. Joe movie
Explosions. Machines. Bruce Willis. Works for me.

Win a million bucks. And waste it through sheer excess. Why, exactly? I guess an elaborate scheme to get your contact information.

Touching. Including Rusty and Mr. Sprinkles with their heads out the window. I love how they turn the car into a story.

Hulu Plus
Mint-flavored brains. Mmmmm. Yummy. (Huh?)

Bud Light
Nerds at the Halftime bar, that they got confused with the real halftime. Yawn.

Halftime in America, narrated by Clint Eastwood. Nice followup to last year’s imported from Detroit ad. Perhaps a little too sappy. And if I hadn’t seen the glimpses of Chrysler products throughout and figured out what the gig was, I might have felt a little betrayed. Nonetheless, the “halftime in America” is a pretty effective phrase, and nicely used for a halftime ad.

Jack in the Box bacon burger
I’ll admit I don’t have the insatiable hankering for bacon that some other folks do. But “you may now eat the bride” is just plain funny. Kudos to the copywriter.

Fiat 500 Abarth
I’ll admit I’ve seen this spot before, but not sure if on regular TV or not. So I’ll pretend this was the first time. The foreign language adds a bit of mystery at the outset, but I don’t get the payoff. Too much screen time for the Italian model, not enough screen time for the Italian car.

Pepsi Max
Ha! An ill-timed traitorous purchase of a Pepsi Max means that Regis awards Pepsi Max for life to the Coca-Cola delivery driver. Nice spin on the ongoing series.

Toyota Camry Reinvented
Ok, so I laughed and laughed at this one. It makes it obvious they have reinvented the Toyota Camry. And what’s not to like about a reinvented DMV with golf and ice cream (although the lady behind the counter is still spot-on-DMV-employee!).The deadpan announcer is perfect as well. Maybe not the best spot, but fun to watch.

Ok, back to not getting the point.

Dannon Oikos yogurt
So I’m annoyed with this commercial right away. First, I have no interest whatsoever in watching grown couples tease one another with food. Just not my thing.  And then the violence . . . over yogurt? Not appealing.

Century 21
How many celebrities can you cram in a commercial? At least they all have ties to the new “smarter. bolder. faster.” tagline. And no, Donald, you don’t get a do-over.

Acura NSX
This has Jerry Seinfeld, some great lines and a great surprise at the end. But it’s a lot of money for Acura to throw at a commercial for a product that only a few thousand people will buy, is three years away (says the fine print), and has little if any tie to an Acura you can buy at your dealer today. Fun commercial. Waste of money.

GE Appliance Park
Better than the turbine commercial. A little mundane, and self-congratulatory, though — how does the fact that you’ve created new jobs matter to me, the customer? I’m probably not going to go out and buy a GE fridge as a result.

Budweiser Heritage #2
Again, a nicely filmed review of the last century following prohibition, with Budwesier at the center. I repeat what I said earlier – an effective way to show heritage, and bring the brand into 2012.

Here we go again. Tire technology on a ball – a basketball this time. And why does a quieter basketball matter? I just don’t get it, Bridgestone.

Honda CRV – Matthew Broderick
Fun, and a good way to carry through the “bucket list” theme that Honda has been using for the launch of the new CRV. I’m just a little bothered throughout by thinking that Mr. Broderick would probably be driving something far different than a CRV on his day playing hooky . . .

Act of Valor movie
Intriguing. Real Navy Seals? (Can they do that?) Looks like it could be a good movie.

Met Life
So Snoopy wasn’t enough? Nearly every cartoon character ever invented shows up for Met Life this time? Not sure I get why they are all involved — I got distracted trying to identify characters and missed the message.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Car as a life support device. Now that’s a new one. I like how Mr. Henderson becomes “Bob?!” after he appears to have passed on.

Bud Light
I’m predicting “Here we go” will be one of those phrases that gets WAY overused. And I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for that poor dog Wigo (Wego? Weego?). He just LOOKED weary.

Kia Optima Dream
Motley Crue, massive sandwiches, hot babes, and a  . . . Kia Optima? Really? The premise is good, but paying off with a Korean sedan as a “dream car” just doesn’t ring true. Bugatti, Ferrari, even Corvette, and I’m sold. And Mr. Sandman is just plain creepy looking.

Those monkeys were funny the first time. Now – at least at first watch – they come across as a bit creepy. If I worked with co-workers that bad, I would have left my job LONG ago. (Since I work with the wonderful folks at VantagePoint, that won’t be happening any time soon! Sorry, Careerbuilder.)

Samsung Galaxy Note
It started out looking like a repeat of a previous commercial. Fortunately I stuck with it – did everyone? It gets a little over the top, though. And I wish they’d spent more time explaining why it was a better phone (my Palm Pilot, circa 1998, has a pen). Have to give them some credit for admitting “that was over the top” at the end. (And I promise – I typed it before they said it.)

Cadillac ATS
I’ve driven some really good Cadillacs on a racetrack, and I’ve “driven” (on Playstation) the Nurburgring. But this was one ordinary commercial. Sorry, Cadillac.

If 14-year-old boys were the primary audience for web hosting, this would be a great strategy. However, last I checked, they aren’t

NBC Sports Network
Ok, so I haven’t been commenting on NBC promos. But I have to give a shout-out to this ad. Touching, inspiring, and nicely narrated. And local hero George Hincapie makes an appearance about 3/4 of the way though, at the end of last year’s Tour de France.

My favorite? Probably the Chevrolet Camaro ad, with the Audi vampires spot a close second. That’s my opinion – what’s yours?

So last night’s Packers/Steelers Super Bowl was a pretty good game, going down to the last minute. And the Super Bowl commercials? There were a few hits, a couple of touchdowns, and a number of fumbles.

So sit back and enjoy VantagePoint Marketing’s second annual Super Bowl commercial review, where I give my first impressions of each national ad (and a few locals too), as they happened, from kickoff to closing plays. (We caught as many of them as we could as they aired here in Greenville; you can see all the commercials at the Fox Sports website or on YouTube.)

1. Bud Light: Home improvement show redecorates the kitchen by adding a bucket of beer. Not particularly memorable, but the title of the show (“Hack Job”) is a nice touch.

2. Doritos: Guy makes fool of himself taunting a dog with a Dorito; guy gets floored when dog crashed through the front door. Nice.

3. Audi: What a great setup. Two guys escaping a luxury jail (literally). One chooses a Mercedes as his getaway car (“my father owned one”) and is captured; the other chooses an Audi and gets away. Nice cameo by Kenny G.

4. Doritos: Gross. Dude sucks another dude’s fingers and steals a co-workers pants for Doritos dust. Just gross.

5. Chevrolet Cruze: Clever way to repeatedly state that the Cruze gets 42mpg, although using hard-of-hearing elderly folk might be a bit politically incorrect.

6. Pepsi Max: Wife steals high-calorie food from husband, and hurls Pepsi Max can, striking innocent bystander. Does violence sell (fake) sugar water?

7. Bud Light: Dozens of anachronistic Bud Light product placements in a swashbuckler movie, including a Bud Light stained glass window. Is it a commercial, or a commentary on the preponderance of product placements?

8. Chevrolet Silverado HD: Truck becomes Lassie rescuing Tommy. (“I didn’t even know this town HAD a volcano!”) Great way to show the capability of the truck over and over again, and great cinematic touches. One of the night’s best.

9. Fast Five movie: Fast & Furious, same song, third verse. (Or is it the fourth?)

10. Pepsi Max: Make fun of geek, geek gets revenge. Yawn.

11. Doritos. Doritos can revive fish, plants, and grandpa. Gross. Again.

12. Hyundai: Apparently we’ve been hypnotized into believing that compact cars are boring. Problem is, they don’t show us the exception to the rule for more than just a few seconds.

13. Cowboys & Aliens movie: The other trailers I’ve seen are better.

14. Kia Optima: So, apparently everyone wants the new Optima – the cops, the bad guys (was that the helicopter from Airwolf?), the sea gods, the aliens, and . . . the Mayans? It is a pretty cool looking sedan, though.

15. Brisk: A stop-action Eminem ad. We learn why he doesn’t do ads. But we learn nothing about the product.

16. Bridgestone: An embarrassing “reply-all” email leads a cubicle-dweller on an around-the-state quest to gather everyone’s computers. Problem is, the retrieval barely features cars or tires, so it doesn’t tie sufficiently to the brand.

17. Chevrolet Volt: A very nice use of the history of electricity to position the Volt as historical.

18. Go Daddy: Joan Rivers is the new Go girl. Yikes. The ad does its part to make the point that the new domain suffix is .co, not .com.

19. Budweiser: The clydesdales save a saloon shootout. Cinematically gorgeous, great comic timing, unexpected “Tiny Dancer” singalong. Probably the best ad of the night.

20. Teleflora. Could be funny, but ends up being a bit crass. Not the best tie in to the new Faith Hill collection (what is it?), but her the look on her face is great.

21. Transformers: Nothing new here folks, just more of the same. Which probably means it works perfectly for the target audience.

22. BMW: Go South Carolina! Ok, not the strongest commercial, but anything that mentions the Upstate favorably on national TV can’t be bad.

23. Motorola Xoom: This ad tries to invoke Apple’s 1984, unsuccessfully. It doesn’t really sell the uniqueness of the tablet, and the hooded masses look more like a precursor to the dancing crowd from the halftime show.

24. BMW diesel: Funny. Definitely shows BMW diesel in a good light. Might be even better on a second watching.

25. Coke: Interesting – Planet of the Apes meets Lord of the Rings meets the 4th of July.

26. Thor movie: Um, ok. Not nearly enough info to make me want to see it.

27. Volkwagen: This is the 30-second version of the mini-Darth Vader spot. Still very good, but not nearly as good as the 60-second version. VW did pull a major PR coup though by releasing the 60-second version before the game — 14 million views on YouTube can’t be bad.

28. Snickers: This may have been the best thing to happen to Roseanne since, well, forever.

29. CareerBuilder: Dude gets overrun by chimps again, this time in the parking lot. Not as funny as when he’s in the office, and I can’t help but cringe at the damage to the cars. Doesn’t help me remember CareerBuilder.

30. Super 8 movie: Interesting music juxtaposition. Unlike Thor, the mystery makes me want to see it.

31. Chevrolet Cruze: Facebook status updates? Is that really why I buy a car? Um, no.

32. Captain America movie: Another superhero movie? Yawn.

33. CarMax: The giant circle of similes. Sortof funny, but what’s it have to do with selling cars?

34. UPS Store: Not sure how “we love logistics” applies to color copies. Otherwise, entertaining.

35. Salesforce Chatter: Not sure what it is, or what it does. But bracketing the halftime show with stop-action Black Eyed Peas was clever.

36. The Daily: Nothing earth-shaking, but they tell what it is (electronic tablet newspaper/magazine) clearly over a remixed “What a Wonderful World.” Makes me want an iPad. Oh, wait. I already wanted an iPad.

37. Yeah, making fun of people getting killed. What a way to sell cars.

38. E-Trade: Creepy baby, creepy tailor. Doesn’t help me want to use E-Trade, that’s for sure.

39. Best Buy: Ozzy and Justin Bieber are not enough to save the lack of a clear explanation of the Buy Back program. Confusing entertainment doesn’t help sell a new service.

40. Pirates movie: Mermaids, zombies, Blackbeard, & Jack. Fun!

41. Mini Countryman: I think we could do with out the double entendre, but otherwise a satisfactory job of show the extra cargo capacity of the countryman.

42. Actually explains the service AND is entertaining. I love the test baby — the best use of a flying doll in a commercial perhaps ever.

43. Hyundai: Less trance, more car, please.

44. Groupon: The fake “save Tibet” approach gets you drawn in, and Groupon makes the sale when the ruse is up. But I couldn’t help but feel I’d been had. After all, there is a real political struggle going on in Tibet.

45. Coke: World peace by way of a Coke? Well, at least border peace? Cute, but I got the point 10 seconds in. 50 seconds of wasted advertising in my book.

46. Stella Artois: Jazz club, smoky swooner, gorgeous girls. I don’t get it.

47. CarMax: Guy pulls up to service station and gets unprecedented customer service. “Are you trying to steal my engine?” “I’m being carjacked!” “Oh, dear, my delivery!” Funniest lines of the night, and a great way to make the point about customer service.

48. Chrysler: Detroit knows luxury? Why? “The hottest fires make the hardest steel” doesn’t answer the question. Gorgeous cinematography, well directed, nice soundtrack, and Eminem (again!) make for a good piece of film. But a 90-second commercial to sell a slightly redesigned mediocre family sedan seems like a waste of money. (Hey, waitaminutehere — that’s MY money!)

49. NFL: Best fans ever, illustrated by what seemed like 60 great classic TV show clips crammed into 60 seconds. Will definitely bear multiple watchings.

50. Jack in the Box: Jack grows a Lincoln beard in honor of America. I love what they can do with his head.

51. Rango movie: Action. Romance. Comedy. Explosions. And Johnny Depp. Sign me up.

52. Talking cars make snarky comments about one another.

53. Bud Light: Dogs host a party. And they close by, you guessed it, playing cards. I saw it coming 25 seconds away.

54. Hyundai: Great concept – what if we settled for giant brick cell phones, portable record players, bike races on giant wheeled bikes. But I can’t remember what it had to do with Hyundai.

55. Pepsi Max: I wonder if this ad could have been any more demeaning to men in general.

56. Rio movie: I think we’ve seen it all in the trailer. Or, as my son said, Happy Feet 2, Tropics edition.

57. Bridgestone: The man spares the beaver, the beaver saves the man. Now go buy some tires.

58. Go Daddy: Innuendo, but not much skin. I guess that’s an improvement?

59. VW Beetle: A beetle with racing stripes zooms through the insect world. No, I mean a REAL beetle. Fun. Simple. Clever.

60. Mercedes: Fun to watch, and P. Diddy was great. But not sure how all the Mercedes leaving their owners match up with releasing new models.

61. Chevrolet Camaro: Love the parody of every car commercial cliche ever. “She’s a teacher.” “I did not see that coming.”

62. Verizon: The “can you hear me now” guy comes back and answers an iPhone. Classic.

63. Limitless movie: Cryptic. Maybe a combination of Wall Street, Inception, and Vanilla Sky?

64. Skechers: Skin plus reality show star to sell fitness shoes. I guess it’s better than Joe Montana. Maybe.

65. Terra Nova: Lost meets Jurrasic Park meets Avatar. I may be watching.

66. E-Trade: The cat does not help. Is it just me, or does the E-Trade baby look even creepier this year?

67. Mars Needs Moms movie: Kid tries to save his mom from aliens.

68. Wendys: Co-workers slapping one another. Yeah, get me THAT sandwich. Or not.

That’s my opinion – what’s yours?

So for years I’ve watched the Super Bowl for the commercials. This year, I thought I’d give you my 2 cents about the creativity and marketing value of each of the national (and non-CBS-promo) commercials that ran during from kickoff to final play, each in a sentence or two. A few hits, mostly misses, not many repeats, but overall not very inspiring. You can watch any of the commercials again here. Let me know your thoughts (and if I missed any!).
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