Super Bowl XLV Ad Roundup: Like You Needed Another One Edition

By Kiran Aditham 

With another Super Bowl in the history books and the Packers bringing the trophy back to Titletown, all that’s left to do of course is to review the big game’s advertising, most of which unfortunately made a strong case for TiVo usage. Still, there were a few bright spots in between Christina Aguilera’s butchering of the national anthem and the post-game celebration (including the already overexposed VW/Vader ad), some more for their controversial nature, and others for just bringing us some brief entertainment value besides the Black Eyed Peas (kidding).

So, out of curiosity, we tapped a few industry folks to get their picks of the best, worst and middle-of-the-road entries in this year’s extravaganza. Our personal faves: Groupon: Tibet (ignorant, insensitive, yet attention-grabbing and directed by Christoper Guest–so there’s that), the horror-tinged Sony Ericsson: Xperia Play ad from McCann Worldgroup, Eminem/Chrysler, PepsiMax “Love Hurts” and “First Date“, Adrien Brody’s “Stella Artois” performance for classing up the joint and Grey’s NFL submission above.


Also, our old pal Kevin Allocca offers a YouTube report on how Super Bowl ads trended two hours after the game and this morning. Bieber wins again. Anyhow, as mentioned, check out some creatives’ thoughts on the big game ad blitz after the jump.

Richard Bates, Chief Creative Officer at The Brand Union (, on commercials that worked.

Best Ads:
–          VoltzWagon “Kid Vader” – This ad effectively communicates brand personality.  The car plays a role in the family (it brings dad home), which is how they want to be viewed. This also shows the sense of humor and personality of VW owners (young family who doesn’t take itself too seriously). Finally, it successfully adds an emotional element to an Auto commercial.

–          Budweiser “Tiny Dancer” – An excellent use of epic filmmaking, familiar/ heritage characters, a hero story with the product as the hero, emotional tension for buildup to the moment, and a recognizable actor (Peter Storemare from Prison Break). The addition of the light-hearted, fun-loving bar song helps bring sad people to a happier experience, which is perfectly on strategy with the Budweiser “grab some buds” strategy that has been running recently.

–          Coca Cola “Border Patrol” — This spot had the cinematic filmmaking, dramatic build-up and on-brand friendliness and joy expected of a superbowl ad for Coke. The message of peace, harmony, and the joy of their drink bringing people together across the starkest of boundaries was clever and humorous.

–          PepsiMax “Date Night Mindreading” – This spot offered a good combination of user-generated ideas and a simple story. A play on the age-old Man vs. Woman frame of mind, it is just edgy enough, used humor that everyone can relate to, and ends by making the product the hero of the spot.

Josh Rogers, Executive Creative Director, Imagination
Tie: Chrysler.  Not because of the spot alone, which I actually found to be somewhat stuck between an anthem and a confusing mathematical equation (how does this all equate to quality again?).  But strategically they’re taking a bold position—reclaim their birthplace with pride and edge to compete with Ford.
Hyundai.  Not because the car stood up to the spots—particularly the Sonata Hybrid in Anachronistic City, which was brilliantly executed—but because the brand, with simplicity and clarity continues to position themselves as one of the few car brands that speaks to the people, and not just their dealers.
Most average:
Tied between almost everyone.  It was largely business as usual for each advertiser.  Etrade did their next baby spot.  Snickers did their next celebrity spot.  Godaddy gave their next attempt to raise the gimmick girl bar.  Skechers once again proved the value of agencies by not hiring one.
Tie: the user-generated wash of pepsi max’s crotch shots, tired marital clichés and other cheap attempts at humor that at best do not add up to anything resembling the beginning of a brand; and Groupon, who managed to erase any kind of positive “power to the people” sentiment by reducing a whole culture down to what we consumers can suck out of it.

Steve O’Connell, Executive Creative Director, Red Tettemer + Partners

This year, instead of watching the Superbowl spots with my creative director hat on, I figured I’d watch them like most of America… while drinking plenty of beer in a room full of loud, cheering people. The first thing that was obvious is what we already know – comedy wins. Don’t try doing a strategic anthem. It doesn’t play to the crowd. Either be funny (Bridgestone’s “Reply All” cracked me up) or tell a cute story (Volkswagen’s “The Force”). Secondly, don’t make voiceover crucial to your spot. It’s likely most people won’t hear it since they’re probably in a room full of people passing wings. And lastly, a fun rendition of Tiny Dancer gets the people going every time (Budweiser’s western saga). My hat’s off to Audi’s old men escaping prison, my favorite spot of the night. It was a fun story. It had something smart to say about the product. It was executed flawlessly. And it used the word “hoodwinked.” Nice.

John Staffen
Chief Creative Officer, ArnoldNYC

Best = Volkswagen “Darth Vader Kid”:   Charming. Quirky. Cool. Just like the brand.
Worst = Groupon: Did anyone, anywhere think this was funny?
Eh. E-Trade. Snickers. Career Builder.: Time to refresh.