Close-Up: Were creatives bowled over by Super Bowl ads?
campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 February 2010 12:00AM
Solid VW, Coke and Audi spots, Monster.com's beaver and a Leno/Letterman/Winfrey tie-up caught Mark Tutssel's eye.
Last weekend was an absolute feast for sports fans of all kinds and nationalities.
Television history was made when UK football fans were treated to the first live broadcast of a match in 3D - the game between Manchester United and Arsenal.
Invictus opened up in London, destined to take up position among the distinguished line-up of cinema's great sporting blockbusters such as Raging Bull, Rocky, Chariots Of Fire and The Hustler.
After weeks of being e-mailed endless John Terry jokes, Fabio Capello finally kicked the England captain into touch for playing away from home.
And the 2010 RBS Six Nations championship kicked off with England beating Wales, and Ireland beating Italy.
Across the Pond, the 44th Super Bowl, this year being contested by the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, took place in Miami, Florida.
New Orleans broke its franchise drought in the team's first appearance in a Super Bowl, beating the Colts 31-17. Mardi Gras started early on Bourbon Street this year.
Historically, this is the "Super Bowl of Commercials", which are usually better than the game itself. The Super Bowl is the only significant TV showcase for commercials in today's media-fragmented world. And many marketers jockeyed for position by kicking off pre-game buzz, relying on social media to whet viewers' appetite for this showcase event.
At nearly $3 million per spot - or $100,000 per second - and with more than 100 million Americans watching the game and the ads (four million of whom bought a new television just for the occasion), the stakes are incredibly high for every marketer brave enough to play on this big stage.
Coca-Cola made an appearance for the fourth consecutive year with two spots worth a mention. "Hard times" featured the greedy billionaire C Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons losing his entire fortune, only to find true happiness and friends with a Coke.
"Sleepwalker", meanwhile, showed a man on a sleepwalk safari across the African savanna, pulled subconsciously by his thirst for a Coke. It was nicely shot and resolved itself with the guy opening happiness with a laughing hyena. But both failed to live up to the quality of "video game", the 2007 spot designed to look and feel like the hyper-violent Grand Theft Auto game, and the Charlie Brown piece called "mine".
While the fists were being thrown at Twickenham, Croke Park and the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Volkswagen was playing a game of "punch dub".
This was a clever reinvention of the classic US kids' road-trip game that has passengers on long car journeys punching each other every time they see a VW Beetle. The spot ends with the punchline of the comedian Tracy Morgan getting jabbed by Stevie Wonder.
We've all grown a bit tired of ads for "green products" that have become vanilla, expected and boring. But Audi took a big step in the "green" conversation and it did it with assertiveness, intelligence and some really insightful humour. The "Green Police" spot is funny and smart, and gave Audi's new turbo diesel car green street-cred.
For a company that has damned the future of TV advertising, it was interesting to see that Google showed up for the biggest TV advertising spectacle of them all. When most advertisers used silly slapstick, here is a brand that credits the American public with intelligence. "Love story" is a simple, smart and elegant way to tell a tale of how central Google is to our lives, in both big and small ways. Google had the clearest window into our cultural zeitgeist, but, sadly, the story was a little ordinary and uninspired.
The Super Bowl wouldn't be the Super Bowl without talking babies, furry critters, kicks in the crotch, gratuitous use of celebrities, consumer-generated spots, Clydesdale horses and men without trousers. This year was no exception.
But one little animal did stand out from the rest of the pack. No, it wasn't a Russian meerkat. Instead, it was a fiddle-playing beaver and his virtuoso performance for Monster.com. The critter is shown starting off his life in the countryside playing his little fiddle before seizing his chance to make it big in the City because he used Monster.com. The final shot of the little fella sitting in a hot-tub in the back of a stretched Hummer with a buxom beauty was undoubtedly enjoyed by the males in the audience.
And finally, one spot on the "Big Game" showed that true sportsmanship is still alive and well. The NBC spot featured the American talkshow hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman appearing together on a sofa with Oprah Winfrey sandwiched between them.
The significance of this may have passed the UK audience by but next month Leno will move away from a primetime slot he took last year, which has been judged to have failed miserably, and back to a late-night slot - going head-to-head with Letterman again.
Their competition on-air and the drama around The Tonight Show have meant the two have had no dialogue and no joint public appearances in more than 18 years.
Hopefully, Wayne Bridge and Terry can settle their differences in such a way and get back to playing the beautiful game together. Now to the World Cup. The world's best sporting spectacle beckons.
- Mark Tutssel is the worldwide chief creative officer of Leo Burnett.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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