Worst Super Bowl Call Ever – This Year’s Adverts?

NEW YORK - JANUARY 30 Pepsi Official Soft Drink of Super Bowl XLVIII billboard on Broadway during Super Bowl XLVIII week in Manhattan on January 30, 2014 PepsiCo is a Super Bowl XLVIII sponsor

Being a foreigner, it’s taken me a few years to start to embrace the whole event that is SuperBowl Sunday. Frankly watching a 60 minute game that lasts three and half hours is a massive commitment that traditionally is only made tolerable by ample use of a DVR and the skip feature. But as a media professional, I dutifully informed the family that we would not fast forward tonight, but would enjoy my industry’s best attempts to bring creativity and humor to the long pauses in game action….oh dear, how I was made to pay for that. 


Now I am not going to say that there were not some good efforts this year, which you can watch in this handy recap courtesy of Ad Meter and USA Today. I like when big stars show some personality and humility, for example take Liam Neeson’s deliberately wooden performance in the Clash of Clans ad (and the coffee shop attendants lovely name mistake) or Danny Trejo’s lead in the Brady Bunch spoof for Snickers (although Kim Kardashian’s effort was ironically too truthful to be funny, given our already unhealthy obsession with meaningless celebrity drivel).

Two adverts stood out for their production quality. First was the Boston Tea Party ad for Turbo Tax, which I thought looked great as well as having just enough humor and relevance to one of the teams to work well in context. Second was the extremely beautiful but ultimately punch line lazy Mophie spot which drew me in, but then spat me out more frustrated than impressed.

But let’s be honest. Way too many misses.


Firstly, the automotive category was a disaster. A plethora of ‘me too” ads with amazing HD backdrops and fleeting images of cars driving across the landscape which left me unable to recall any specific standout brand (which ultimately is a miss for them all). There were way too many “father/son” nostalgia ads, and I had obviously failed to consume the vast quantities of Bud Light that might have helped me have the drunken “luuve u son” moment these ads are aiming to tap into. NBC themselves didn’t help matters either. Their spring programming promotions became consistently less inspiring throughout the game, given it all seems to revolve around the same “high intensity, rootin’, tootin’, shootin’, bad guy doing good, with cast of plastic support actors, soup”. This combination of insipid content frankly quickly became boring…and that’s a real damnation of what is supposed to support and enhance this great sporting spectacle.

But all hail the real shockers. GoDaddy’s dire business owner ad, Nationwide’s horrible “dead kid” ad, Squarespace’s tragic “Dude killing” Jeff Bridges effort and the laughable, for all the wrong reasons, Budweiser brewing advert, which should simply remind everyone why it is officially the worst beer on the planet. Special shout out to Victoria’s Secret who even failed to catch my attention with their “hot women in underwear” spot – but perhaps by running so late in the game my tolerance was at an all time low to get excited by a bland remake of their last 50 commercials. With such material, they really have to work hard to fail on delivering a knock out.


However not to finish on an entirely negative rant, I do want to celebrate Always’s spot. In an event dominated by maleness, they perfectly pitched the “like a girl” 60 seconds and hit a powerfully reflective message that should be extended well beyond Sunday’s game. This ad reminds us that when advertising targeting, content and message align and push beyond the product and into a socially important commentary in a quietly understated way, everyone wins. Congratulations to the Always brand and agency creative teams. Your spot was this year’s quarterback sack, 60 yard pass, one handed catch and game winning interception all delivered with the power of the voice of one game stealing little girl.

Dick Reed
Just Media, Inc.

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