Between the Super Bowl and the Oscars, Adweek editors had a welcome abundance of spots from which to choose in February. I wish I could say reviewing the Super Bowl selections nearly a month later put some of the ads that teetered on the delicate line between distasteful and delightful in a new light, but few, if any, looked better the second time around.
Last month, consumer-generated ads appeared on both big event shows. But I found them to be no more telling of the consumer mind-set than any other spot on TV. I would have liked Dove's without the bumpers starring Grey's Anatomy's Sara Ramirez, who admittedly is a great model for the brand's "real beauty" positioning. In the end, she just distracted from the freshness of the spot, a grainy, homemade-looking one in which the contest winner sings in the shower while her voiceover asks, "What's better than knowing you're beautiful, even when no one's looking?"
Many brands introduced new campaigns last month, including Bank of America and Volkswagen, but few lived up to the expectations of their taglines. We did like Diet Coke's friendly feel, J.C. Penney's new stylish look and Pepsi's "More happy" commercials (one of them, at least)—all brands that have been getting little praise of late.
On the Academy Awards, Diet Coke introduced the tagline "Yours, Diet Coke," as in the sign-off of a greeting. Our favorite in the campaign is a spot that takes place on a Hollywood back lot. In it, a temperamental starlet won't work until she has a Diet Coke, so a PA is sent scrambling through various productions—a Western, a zombie flick—to find one. After getting the soda—with a bendy straw, as requested—he leaves the diva's trailer with a dazed look and a lipstick kiss on his cheek. This sends the production into another tizzy because makeup is needed, again. It's entertaining and reinforces the idea of brand loyalty.
Rival Pepsi turns San Francisco into a thrilling pinball game. The first few seconds of the spot elicited a groan (not another hill demo on Lombard Street!), but as the ad progressed, it was hard to resist the bouncing ball and the various city locales that serve as the inventive, moving pinball machine pieces.
The most oddball characters cast in campaigns last month were Robert Goulet as an office gremlin for Emerald Nuts and William Shatner as "the negotiator" for Priceline.com. Why the Las Vegas staple for Emerald Nuts? Who cares. The random quality makes the spot even funnier and is in line with the brand's past nonsensical ad scenarios. The best shot is Goulet crawling on the ceiling as the voiceover explains, a "handful of Emerald Nuts is enough to keep Robert Goulet away—until tomorrow anyway."
Shatner has been a spokesperson for Priceline for years. Put him in an eye patch and give him a "falcon of truth" and the comedy is ridiculously hilarious.