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Super Bowl Ads 2011

I took a taste of the steaming New England clam chowder and smiled. Heaven in a bowl.

I was in an exclusive restaurant in the nation’s capital some months ago, an eatery known to cater to the warlords of Washington – the lobbyists and members of Congress.

There was a large circular table to my right, around which sat several key members of Congress whom I recognized. Highballs in hand, all seemed to be communicating deferentially to a bald man wearing thick glasses and the jowls of an English Mastiff.

The man looked familiar. I looked more closely: Rupert – News Corp. – Murdock.

There was some kind of legislation before Congress at the time dealing with cable television and Lord Rupert was holding court.
But the importance of that meeting to the person many consider the Big Brother of Earth media (Murdock, via his company, News Corp., owns the Fox TV network, Fox News Channel, regional sports networks, the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post) surely pales in comparison to the events of last Sunday.
Consecrated over the last several decades as Super Bowl Sunday, the Fox TV network had obtained the rights to broadcast the nation’s premier sporting event this year, which attracted a record to 111 million viewers on game day.

They not only had the opportunity to watch a great football game, but the Super Bowl of commercials as well.

Why would Murdoch consider a single football game so important? Because revenue from the Fox broadcast of the game was a cool $250 million dollars.

Yeah Baby!

A quarter of a billion dollars of income in a single day. Call him what you will, the Murdoch Man knows how to run a media company.

Not so for many of the companies that coughed up an eye-watering $3 million for 30 seconds of air time as the Pack hammered the Steelers and brought the Lombardi Trophy home to Green Bay. You know Vince is smiling down from that great stadium in the sky.

Space does not permit a review of all of the commercials – there were dozens – so I am going to do a quick review of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Truth be told, as a group, the ads were better this year than last, but I beseech the Gods of Marketing to tell me how Pepsi could spend $3 million on a commercial that positions the brand with pain, violence and invalidation.

Opening scene: An African American couple are out to dinner and the husband asks the waitress for some French fries, at which point the wife gives him a swift kick in the leg and he ads something healthy to the order (words I can’t understand). Cut to: the husband is leaning over a cream pie looking at it. The wife walks by in a hurry and, from behind, pushes his face into the pie. Cut to: the guy hiding out in the bathtub about to take a bite out of a burger when the wife’s hand whisks in, grabs the burger out of his hand, and shoves a bar of soap in his mouth. He gags.

The final scene is the husband sitting on a park bench. He takes a sip of Pepsi Max. The wife unexpectedly joins him. He starts to shy away, thinking he’ll get bonked again when she takes a sip out of her own can of Pepsi Max and says it has “Zero calories”. And he has an epiphany and says “Maximum taste.”

Now as bad as it was, it could have ended there and perhaps have made a point. Perhaps, maybe, something….

But no, the nightmare continues: After the husband says “Maximum taste,” a pretty blond jogger pulls into the bench next to him and sits down. She looks over and smiles – it’s a polite smile and he returns it. At which point, the shrewish wife, throws her nearly full can of Pepsi at her husband’s head. But he ducks and it hits the blond jogger in the head.

She falls over onto the ground and the black couple get up and run off with a parting, “Sorry,” while Blondie lies on the cement sidewalk holding her head.

This commercial is supposed to make you want to buy and drink Pepsi Max – I kid you not.

Don’t think Pepsi would be that foolish or that a “big time” ad agency wouldn’t produce something this obnoxious?

Have a look.


But there was some stunning creativity at work this year. While the online media pundits, seemed to have reached a consensus that a VW ad featuring a little kid in a Darth Vader outfit was “the best” of the Super Bowl ads, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Chrysler commercial.

The little kid is cute, but no way does it make me want to buy a VW. Sorry.

The commercial for Chrysler is one of the most powerful ads ever. I love this commercial: the writing gets to your soul; the music and imagery tell a story about the car, and perhaps even more, about Detroit.

In a touch of creative brilliance, they have positioned the Chrysler 200 with Detroit – the tag line of the ad is “Imported from Detroit” – in a way that engenders a sense of pride, and automotive craftsmanship that speaks not only of Detroit, but of the self-respect that made American manufacturing the envy of the world in days gone by. The ad offers a ray of hope, that it could return.

It’s a gutsy positioning…and it works.

The voiceover is pitch perfect, the sound track superb and the use of Eminem, particularly his closing line, is a touch of directorial genius.

I’ve never been a Chrysler fan. I started driving Chevys when I was twelve and stick shifts ruled. In later years, I was seduced by mechanical harmony of the Japanese. But I’ll tell you something, the next time I am in the market for a car, I will test drive this Chrysler 200. And if the car is as good as the commercial, they’ll have a new customer.

Take a look.

All of which brings me to my own 30 seconds in the sun: I have been conducting professional assessments of advertising and marketing programs for many years. On line or off, does the ad communicate, does it deliver a message in such a way that it motivates the recipient to pick up the phone or click a mouse?

None of you, I trust, would spend your advertising budgets producing a marketing piece that was as dreadful as the Pepsi Max commercial. But I have had clients who were spending hard-earned dollars on ads that simply didn’t communicate. Or worse, communicated the wrong message or the wrong image.

If your marketing materials aren’t generating the leads that you think they should, I can provide the assessment promptly and make any recommendations that I feel may be called for.

The cost for service for most clients is $325. I say, “most” as large corporate clients with several marketing channels would be more than this.

If I can be of service, please contact me using the information in the social media press kit below.



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